The Top 10 Educational Art Activities for Preschoolers

By Rebecca / August 22, 2017

Preschool education involves much more than just merely preparing children for kindergarten. Rather, preschool is an initiation of sorts into the larger world. Away from mom and from dad, young children are encouraged to independently practice fine motor skills and cognitive development through a variety of games and activities including play time, circle time, and arts and crafts.

For most children, preschool provides their first experiences within a classroom setting that provides structure to many other children. This initial exposure for children allows them to learn important concepts like kindness, sharing, empathy, and the academic foundations for solid learning in future elementary grades.

Preschoolers will inevitably make the slow transition into kindergarten, where curriculum becomes more academic in nature and is viewed by many parents as a fundamental launch pad for children to succeed in school and education.

Early childhood educators must walk a fine line between providing enough of the pre-math and pre-literacy skills needed for future success in school while delivering enough play time and social interaction with children to assist them in building valuable social skills so that they can get along well with their peers when they grow in age.

Preschool is a setting that efficiently enmeshes necessary basic academic standards that children can use as an academic launchpad while also providing ample opportunities to experience art, crafts, socializing, sharing, and more.

As such, preschool holds a special position within school education systems. Grades one through five are typically geared towards academic learning and kindergarten is a transitional area that gets children ready for academic settings. It is only preschool that offers ample opportunity for students to experience high degrees of academics, as well as play time and creative arts, to bolster young children’s learning and development for years to come.

Preschool teachers are important figures who are required to be highly organized and be able to effortlessly transition between teaching children emotional, social, physical, and cognitive education. Preschool teachers must be able to provide an environment that is highly structured where children can safely laugh and make friends with their peers and play well amongst others. The structured classroom that a preschool teacher provides is a boon to children’s social interaction opportunities and serves to minimize most of the conflict found in disorganized classrooms.

Perhaps most importantly, preschool is a locale in which children begin their initial forays into independence and decision making. As children experience their first time away from their parents, they are presented with a litany of choices, from what to eat, who to talk to, what to play with, and finding out what interests them. Confused children may benefit from gentle suggestions from their teacher and can be found engaging in tasks that are of interest to them in no time.

With all of the time available to make autonomous decisions, preschool aged children grow a certain confidence that cannot be found elsewhere. In the safe confines of a preschool classroom, children can make strong choices about their interests and start the emotionally-driven process of building the foundations of their personal identity and interests.

While children are learning to become independent in preschool classrooms, they are also learning to take care of others while also taking care of themselves. Opportunities to engage in “adult-style” work and tasks like handing out papers or setting the snack table before break are special job opportunities that serve to grow a child’s sense of competency and self-worth as they successfully complete their jobs and execute their job performance in an outstanding fashion that benefits their peers and themselves.

Preschool affords children myriad opportunities to take care of themselves and their peers and to promote fine motor skills along with cognitive building skills. Throughout these daily opportunities for interpersonal growth children find their curiosity piqued in infinite ways and they subsequently search to hunt and discover for answers to their many questions. Preschool teachers are well acclimated with the vivid imaginations and excited curiosity that their students have and are expertly adept at providing a climate where children can hunt and discover, build and foster, create and define, in ways that cannot be found elsewhere.

A large part of the climate that a preschool teacher must provide to cultivate the curiosity and exploratory tendencies of children resides in providing plenty of opportunities for self-expression through arts and crafts and creative activities that are either performed autonomously or as a group.

Through art, preschool-aged children are able to take advantage of various artistic tools such as pens, pencils, markers, Sharpies, assorted papers, shapes, and more to create works of self-expression that define the child in a creative and artistic perspective.

Art nurtures the lively curiosity found in preschool aged children and serves to motivate children to express and convey their interpretations of the world around them on to paper through the ultimate form of free artistic interpretation.

Ultimately, preschool is a place that holds imperative value for children and their parents. A place to not only learn pre-math and literacy skills, preschool provides curious, wily, and observant children competency in necessary skills like socializing, following instructions properly, helping out peers, and sharing that they will require in future grade levels. However, it is the creative element discussed above that distinguishes preschool from other levels of school. In preschool, children are able to learn from a wide variety of arts and crafts, games, exploratory opportunities, singing, and more to develop and build their own unique and highly individual personas with confidence and character as they transition into higher grades.

To learn more about some of the incredible arts and crafts activities that you can share with your preschool aged children, read on below!​

Arts and Crafts Activities Perfect for Preschool Aged Children​

Paper Plate Instruments

Make tambourines and other musical instruments from paper plates and simple decorative items! This perfect noise maker is made from basic materials and provides your preschooler with their very own musical instrument crafted from their own artistic hands!

paper plate instruments image

Materials:​

  • Paper plates
  • Beads or dried beans
  • Stapler
  • Markers, glitter, glue, stickers, other embellishments

Painting with ice

Create paintings and other works of art with ice! This opportunity enables kids to swirl paints over assorted papers to create beautifully unique designs.​

painting with ice image

Materials:

  • Craft sticks or popsicle sticks
  • Assorted papers
  • Ice cube trays
  • Liquid child-friendly paints

Hanging CD Ornament

Use old CDs and clean up unwanted clutter by saving this item from the trash bin and letting young children make their own sparkly works of art from it!

hanging cd ornament image

This fun recycling project helps kids to learn the value of recycling and provides them with a fun and entertaining experience at little to no cost.​

  • Sparkly craft items like beads and sequins
  • Fishing line or beading wire
  • Child-safe scissors
  • Craft-style glue
  • Newspaper and other papers

Sparkle Bottles

This activity lets children make their own glittery water bottle full of sparkles and fun! Within the bottle are alphabet letters jumbled up to provide immense fun for toddlers who are trying to learn their letters.

sparkle bottles image

Materials:

  • Alphabet beads or shapes
  • Empty water or soda bottle
  • Assorted glitter colors
  • Sequins and other decorations
  • Water and corn syrup
  • Paper sheets
  • Highlighter marker

Blown art

This activity provides an innovative and fun new way for your toddler to perfect their artistic and painting skills. Blow painting will have your toddler giggling as he creates unique splotches and shapes in an array of vivid hues.​

blown art image

Materials:

  • Watered-down paint for a sheer effect
  • Plain paper
  • Bending straws
  • Spoon
  • Container with sides to hold liquid in

Sensory Dough

sensory dough image

Much like homemade play-dough, this recipe makes use of common household items like baby oil or cooking oils. For the ultimate in cheap and entertaining play opportunities, sensory dough will have your toddler safely entertained while they pull and squish joyfully through this non-toxic and all natural dough.

Materials:​

  • Baby oil – 1 cup
  • Flour – 8 cups
  • Plastic container
  • Food colorings (assorted)

Colorful Rainsticks

Rainsticks are instruments that feature a hollow core and that are filled with small objects like rocks or beads to produce a variety of interesting noises and effects. Rainsticks make special noises when they are turned side to side and upside down and will have your child engrossed with the different effects they can produce with their changing hand motions.

colorful rainsticks image

Materials:​

  • Colored markers
  • Cardboard tube (from empty paper towel roll)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Small objects like dried beans or rocks
  • Masking tape

Waxed paper art

All children love to color, whether it be on paper, books, or even on walls! Rarely are kids presented with opportunities to draw on alternative sources such as wax paper that offers impressively different results from coloring on regular paper.

waxed paper art image

Have your toddler-aged children cut out shapes and give them markers and crayons to decorate the shapes to their heart’s content. As they watch nearby, you or another adult can carefully iron the art to create a seamless melding of bright cheery colors that you can hang up in your child’s room or elsewhere.

Materials:​

  • Iron (for adults)
  • Wax paper
  • Pencils
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Scissors
  • Crayons
  • String

Clothespin Caterpillars

This arts and crafts project enables your child to create their very own vibrantly hued caterpillar bug. Complete with small accessory eyes and pipe cleaner antennae, this lovable and whimsical caterpillar toy will be your young one’s favorite toy as he lovingly carries from room to room.

clothespin caterpillars image

Assisting in promoting color recognition, and strengthening fine motor skills, this art project is both entertaining and educational.

Materials:​

  • Elmers-style white glue
  • Colored pom-poms in a variety of sizes and colors
  • Pipe cleaners for antennae
  • Googly eye decorations
  • Magnets
  • Clothespins

Additional ideas for awesome arts and crafts activities for your toddler-aged child!

  • Tape-resistant art – Place pieces of tape on paper while children color over the paper and tape. Peel off the tape to expose uncolored areas that create a cool collage effect
  • Color mixing activities – Free paint into paint-cubes within ice tray compartments and bring them outside on a hot day to see the paint streak and run and create drippy works of art that will have children enthralled
  • Sponge art – Simply cut sponges into familiar shapes like circles, hearts, stars, and squares and have children dip sponges into their favorite colors and dab away to create their own sponge paint masterpiece
  • Add sensory touches to any arts and crafts projects to provide a multi-sensory experience that ups the educational ante. Anything with texture (such as grains of salt and sugar, tissue paper, and flour) are great sensory additions to art work
  • Shave crayons and melt them with your hairdryer as your little ones look on at awe while your crayons melt into a seamless rainbow of hues
  • Try very simple cooking or preparation idea with your little ones, by letting them do simple tasks like stirring batters and carrying utensils to the sink

As shown above, there is a multitude of activities that are perfectly suited for preschool-aged children. Through the use of color, simple imagery, blocks, shapes, and ample opportunities for self-expression and self-discovery, preschool is a time where a child’s brain is exposed to many of the important components of the world around them. At this young age, children learn to mirror the behaviors of the important adults around them, and are navigating the terrain in discovering new information about themselves, their likes and dislikes, and what their individual personalities ultimately look like.

Through social interaction, pre-math, and pre-literacy skills at preschool, young children are taught a bevy of important subject matter. Within those highly important subjects they are taught, it the paramount concept of art, self-expression, and creativity. The valuable experiences provided by preschool teachers and parents alike in providing significant amounts of time devoted to self-expression through arts and crafts help to ultimately shape the young child’s persona and sense of identity. As such, the importance of preschool arts and crafts cannot be stressed enough; it is a highly important component of preschool education that offers a multitude of educational and personal benefits that are immensely invaluable and will go on to benefit the lives of children for years to come.​