5 Art Activities for Your Kids Without the Mess

  • 01 of 06

    Make Art

    Getty/Morsa Images

    Art can be messy, and art can take some adult oversight. Yet that doesn't mean art can't be part of a kid's repertoire of independent activities in the summer. It is a matter of choosing the right art projects--i.e., things kids can do (and clean up after) themselves. These 5 art ideas for kids will help kids explore their own creativity without leaving a trail of messy paints and projects in their wake.


    Continue to 2 of 6 below.
  • 02 of 06

    String Beads/Create Wearable Art

    Getty/Daniel Birnbaum

    When I was a kid, stringing beads was the kind of thing we did when we were desperate for something to do.The problem was a lack of purpose and the unsatisfying end product. We just found some cheap plastic beads and put them on a string because there was nothing better to do. But beading for kids has a lot more potential than I ever realized as a kid. There are so many projects and so many beads!

    A few summers ago we created long strands of funky, random beads to hang from the ceiling lamp in my girls' room as part of a redecorating project. Making friendship bracelets for everyone they know can amuse kids for hours. And there are many art kits you can buy to help kids graduate to more difficult projects like making earrings or other jewlery.

    Continue to 3 of 6 below.
  • 03 of 06

    Digital Art

    Probably the previous project will appeal mostly to girls, but boys will be equally interested in creating digital art. Kids of all ages can use the computer to create art without a mess. And as with non-digital art, the artistic possibilities are endless.

    Kids can use a computer to create graphic elements or animation using graphic software for kids. They can scan in photos or drawings and manipulate them. They can use a drawing tablet to create new creations. Little kids can use a basic  "MS Paint" program to experiment with color and get a sense of the mouse. My youngest used to make collages of clip art that sometimes told a story but other times simply looked amazing.

    In short, the computer is an wonderful artistic tool, but parents do have to monitor how much time kids spend on electronic devices even when they are being creative.

    Continue to 4 of 6 below.
  • 04 of 06


    Getty/Don Mason

    Now that every phone has a camera and and there's a phone in nearly everyone's pocket, everyone is a photographer. But not everyone is a good photographer. Teaching kids some of the basics of photography, including composition, light and color, and helping them develop confidence as a photographer can make photography a creative pastime that goes beyond the ubiquitous selfie and into an art form that can inspire kids their whole lives. Try giving kids a scavenger hunt of photos to make in order to get them to create some variety in their subjects.

    While a phone may suffice, you may want to invest in a camera meant for kids or simply get an inexpensive one.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Scrapbooking and Photo Crafts


    Whether your kids have an itch to take photos or not, they probably like looking at them--especially ones that they are in! Old-fashioned scrapbooking and online photo crafts are great activities to keep teens and tweens busy in the summer. You can buy scrapbooking kits and let them tell their life story in pictures. Or if digital is more their style, try an online photo site. Kids can upload pictures and create flip books, magazine covers and other projects.

    And while younger kids will not be able to complete such ambitious projects on their own (and without a mess), you can scale tasks to their level. If creating memory books or organizing your photos is something you would like to undertake, then to come up with some tasks that younger children can do to help move along the project.

    Kids love looking at family pictures, so let them sort through your old photos and pick their favorites. Children as young as kindergarten could drag and drop photos into a file if you set it up. Or if you have paper photos set them up on the floor and have them make piles. After sorting, print out some copies of their favorites and let them make a collage.

    Continue to 6 of 6 below.
  • 06 of 06

    Dry Erase/ Chalk Board Art

    Getty/Hero Images

    The impermanence of chalk or dry erase board art in some ways gives kids freedom to try and try again. Kids will take sidewalk chalk and create something for all the world to see (until the next rain, at least). And inside they can do the same on a chalk or dry erase board. We have a dry erase board for our grocery list, but at times it has become a canvas where kids show what they want me to buy rather than write it. It has also become a place for a little one-upmanship among siblings. Having a place where kids can create art of all to see at any time helps keep those creative ideas flowing!