chalk art with child

Exploring Art Mediums With Children

The subject of art is vast, providing many ways for a child (or an adult, for that matter) to express themselves. Kids are creative by nature, and can take ideas and run with them. But sometimes the challenge is to simply come up with something new and different. Here are a few suggestions to spark imagination and help kids find their creative voices.

Sidewalk Chalk

One of the beauties of sidewalk chalk is that it’s a good way to get kids outside. Sometimes just being outdoors is all that is needed to get the creativity flowing. Sidewalk chalk is a versatile medium with canvases as big as a driveway or as small as a single brick. Pictures can be as simple as a stick figure drawing, but they can also be much more complex. Colors can be blended to create gradients, or pictures can be drawn from a certain perspective so that it looks different from different angles. Using different techniques helps make sidewalk chalk a fun medium across all age groups.

But chalk isn’t just for pictures. It can be used to draw a track for running or an obstacle course for bicycles or scooters. Kids can also create a life-sized board game with themselves as the game pieces.

Perhaps the only downside to creating art with sidewalk chalk is that it’s not permanent. It’s also very hard to hang on the refrigerator. But you can always take a picture of the sidewalk art and hang that on the refrigerator.


Speaking of taking pictures, photography is an excellent art form! Get creative with composition -- how different objects or people are arranged in the frame. Find an interesting person, plant or thing, and see what it looks like from different angles. Pay attention to the scenery behind the object too. The background behind the main subject can be just as interesting as the subject itself.

Get very close to things, like a bug on a flower. Or look through the camera’s lens at things that are far away; for instance, the shape of a far away building against the sky. Look at how light interacts with different materials. Is the surface shiny or sparkly or dull? Find contrast between different things. A dull rock might look interesting surrounded by sparkly water. Look at reflections. Look at how something appears to distort and bend as it’s seen through a glass of water. Look at shadows and the contrast between light and dark. Take pictures of all of it!

Photography can open up the mind to all sorts of different and creative ways to see the world.

Computer Drawing

There are many ways to draw a picture, but it doesn’t always have to be on paper. Try using a painting or drawing program on a computer. Most computers come with some sort of paint program, and there are lots of other programs and apps that are available, many of them for free. 

There’s a lot of experimenting that can be done in a paint program. Try different sized brushes and different colors, and see what you can draw. Draw an image from your imagination, or look at something in the real world and try to draw it. Some programs have shapes that you can create and fill with colors and gradients. Try replicating a real-life object with simple shapes to create an interesting stylized still-life.

In many programs, you can also use photos. Try importing a picture and draw on top of it. Draw a funny hat on a family member, or put a mustache on the cat. Turn the dog into a pirate or draw a car in the middle of the living room. There are all sorts of creative, fun, and even silly things you can do with a computer paint program.

Rock Painting

Have you ever painted on a rock? Try it, it can be fun! Find a rock with a flat side. What does the shape look like? Maybe it looks kind of like a fish or maybe it looks like a person’s face. Take some paints and some small brushes and turn that rock into what you see in your imagination. You can paint a picture on only one side of the rock, or you can paint over the entire thing. Find several rocks that look similar or look like they might go together. Maybe they can be the buildings of a rock city, or maybe they can be a herd of bison.

Acrylic paints work well for this, and they’re easy to clean up. Different sized brushes can help add levels of detail, and there are also acrylic paint pens that can create fine lines and make cleanup even easier! This activity can be fun for all ages and all skill levels.


Origami, or the art of paper folding, can be an engrossing way to spend an afternoon. There are lots of patterns available, with step-by-step instructions for all different skill levels. You can make decorative animals and flowers, or fun stuff like paper airplanes. There are also patterns for useful things like boxes or envelopes that can hold small items.

Popsicle Sticks

All sorts of things can be made with popsicle sticks. They can be glued together, cut to different sizes, and even painted. You can make something flat like a flower or a fish. If you want, you can then glue on some paper or felt to add detail to your creation. You can even make something with a single popsicle stick. Try painting the stick and add on googly eyes to make a cute little animal character. 

When that’s done, you can enter the next dimension and build 3D objects like a house or a car. You can even make something useful by gluing sticks together to make a box for your pens and pencils.

Challenge yourself by grabbing a bunch of popsicle sticks and some rubber bands to make a structure that’s held together with only the rubber bands. No glue allowed! Try to design a working catapult.

There’s no limit to the creative opportunities if you let your imagination wander.