Art Opportunities for Cooped Up Kids

The hands of two young children, shown coloring a piece of paper with colored pencils.

What Is Art Therapy?

Melissa Weaver, resident art therapist at Bradley Hospital, explains five common misconceptions about art therapy.

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Spending more time at home, often indoors, means more time that can be spent doing fun activities and art projects as a family. Healing Arts therapists Melissa Weaver, LMHC, ATR-BC and Rebecca Jacobson, LMHC, ATR have put together fun art projects and ideas to engage you and your children.

Outdoor Art

Nature Mandalas

Supplies: Flowers, leaves, twigs, stones, seed pods, etc.

Instructions: Create art using items found in nature. Mandala is a Sanskrit word translating to sacred circle. Working in a circular form is often grounding and calming. Take a nature walk to collect any items you wish to use. You can bring them inside to glue on paper or assemble them on a flat surface outside. Create any design you like with the materials you found.

Sand Painting

Supplies: Beach or craft sand

Instructions: Explore the sensory experience of manipulating loose sand while drawing images on its surface. You can do this at the beach or on a table top with a cup of outdoor or craft sand. Try different ways of moving and drawing in the sand. When you’re done, wipe it clean and start again!

Sidewalk Chalk 

Supplies: Sidewalk chalk or as an option, create your own sidewalk paint with cornstarch, food coloring and water.

Instructions: Spend time making art outside on the sidewalk or driveway. Use store-bought sidewalk chalk, or create your own chalk paint. Decorate the pavement with drawings, favorite quotes or create your own games.

Painted Rocks

Supplies: Rocks found in nature, paint, paintbrushes/toothpicks and as additional options use paint markers and glitter.

Instructions: Walk outside, in your neighborhood, at a favorite park or at the beach. Collect rocks you find interesting, as well as rocks with flat surfaces. Remove any excess dirt with water. Play around with color, experiment with painting “dot art” designs, or add a word that brings you peace. Display rocks around your home or outside in a garden.

Paper Craft

Magazine Vision Board Collage 

Supplies: Magazines, glue/tape, construction paper or poster board, and scissors. Optional supplies can include drawing materials (crayons, markers, colored pencils), stickers, glitter, and gems.

Instructions: Search for words and images that represent desired changes or goals in your life. Cut or rip them out of magazines and adhere to poster board. Add words and/or images with drawing materials, along with any stickers, glitter, or gems. Place vision board on display for use as a daily reminder of your vision!

Scratch Art

Supplies: Crayons, black paint (tempera or poster paint), paintbrush, thick paper (cardstock, watercolor paper, cardboard)

Instructions: Fill the paper with a thick layer of different colored crayons, covering all the white spots. Then paint a thin layer of black paint on top to conceal the crayon. Once dry, use the back of the paintbrush to carve a design into the paper, stripping away the black paint and revealing the colored crayon underneath.

DIY Puzzles

Supplies: Cardboard or heavy paper, such as cardstock, drawing or painting materials, scissors 

Instructions: Using paint or your favorite drawing materials, cover the entire surface of a sheet of cardboard or heavy paper with an image of your choice. Be sure to leave the opposite side of the paper plain. When it is dry and complete, cut the cardboard into unique puzzle shapes (12-50 pieces are recommended, based on age).  See how long it takes to assemble the picture again.

Sensory Based

Aromatherapy Dough

Supplies: 2 cups cornstarch, ¾ to 1 cup lotion or hair conditioner, 5 drops of desired essential oil, 1 drop of food coloring, spoons and cups to mix in, airtight container or bag

Instructions: Combine all ingredients. Start with ¾ cup of lotion and slowly add in more as needed to desired consistency. Keep in a sealed container and enjoy.

Puffy Paint

Supplies:  Two parts shaving cream foam, one part white glue, food coloring, thick paper (cardstock, tag board, watercolor paper), paintbrushes, cups or bowls to mix in

Instructions: Combine shaving cream and glue together. Add food coloring as desired. Spread like frosting on thick paper.

Soap Carving

Supplies: Bar of soap, popsicle sticks or cooking skewers or pencils or plastic utensils 

Instructions: Using tools found around the home, carve a figure or symbol into the soap by slowly chipping away bits from the outside and then drawing details on the resulting form. If you want, you can smooth out the carving with a lightly dampened towel. 

Digital Art

Search online for virtual tours. Many museums offer collections online. Google Earth lets you explore the world. There are apps that allow you to create art on your phone or computer.

More about the Healing Arts Program at Bradley Hospital »