Updated: May 4
“Art is not a thing. It is a way.”
You might wonder how best to approach art with your kindergartner. What are the kindergarten art skills that should be covered? What are the benefits and does it matter what types of kindergarten art projects you do? And, do you ever wonder if you are doing enough in terms of art at home? What are the best art resources out there that I can provide for my child?
Here is everything we think you need to know to feel confident in carrying out kindergarten art at home.
First, we share the skills and concepts that are generally covered in kindergarten art, so that you can feel reassured that you are giving your child the right exposure. Next, we provide some of the key benefits of art and the ideal way to approach art at this level. Finally, we share art resources (websites) that offer fabulous opportunities for art projects and virtual classes.
In kindergarten, the focus is on exploration and experimenting with materials and colors, learning more about line and texture, developing art vocabulary and knowledge about how and why art is displayed, and advancing creative expression in artworks and discussions of art. Below, you will find a complete list of the skill that are generally covered in kindergarten.
Engagement with Materials
Have experience using standard and non-standard materials.
Standard examples: paint brushes, crayons, colored pencils, chalk
Non-standard examples: painting with Q-tips or pine needles, drawing with charcoal, using foods, spices, or beverages as watercolor paints (e.g., juice from crushed berries, veggies soaked in water, turmeric in water, tea and coffee)
Awareness of how to use art materials safely and appropriately (e.g., scissors, glue, etc).
Familiarity with different types of materials and ways to put them together to creatively address a problem or as an artistic expression.
Examples: collages using different materials, sculptures made from clay/playdough combined with nature objects or other loose parts
Be able to represent real-world and make-believe objects through drawing, painting, sculpting, etc.
Know the basic colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue purple, black, white, gray, and pink).
Identify ways in which certain colors make people “feel” differently.
Colors like red and orange feel “warm”
Colors like blue and green feel “cool”
Determine how to use colors to match an object that is represented in your artwork.
Example: Finding the right color to capture skin color in a self-portrait.
Recognize different types of lines and create these in pieces of artwork.
Curved line examples: slide, waves in the water
Straight line examples: tree trunk of certain tree types, swing set
Curly line examples: curly hair, vines on a pumpkin plant
Zig-Zag line examples: mountainous terrain (e.g., on a map)
Explore what different types of lines can do in drawings, paintings, and sculptures.
For example, lines can be used to suggest motion or emotions (e.g., curved lines in the sky can suggest a breeze, small straight lines drawn around someone with their arms in the air can suggest excitement).
Be able to describe different textures using adjectives (e.g., smooth, rough, silky).
Familiarity with using textured materials in artworks.
For example, make collages or sculptures that include pipe cleaners, pom poms, craft sticks, nature objects, and loose parts.
Be able to share the process of your art creation and details about the artwork.
Select artworks to display as a portfolio or in an art exhibit, and explain why these were chosen.
Describe why artists display their work and where art is typically on display (e.g., art museums, art exhibits).
Identify art preferences and explain why you like a piece of artwork.
THE BENEFITS OF KINDERGARTEN ART
Doing Art Enhances Creativity & Imagination and Builds Confidence
If you are giving your child opportunities to “do art” by picking up markers, pulling out paints, or drawing with crayons or colored pencils, then you are giving your kindergartner wonderful art experiences! Maybe they pull out stickers, do art with nature, such as tree rubbings, or you invite them to cut up magazines and old cards to make a collage. These art activities are fabulous - you are fostering their creativity and imagination! By providing your child opportunities to engage in art, you can build their confidence in their initiative and decision-making as it relates to self-expression, color choices, and understanding who they are!
Doing Art Builds Fine Motor Skills
Not only do art activities contribute to raising a well-rounded, confident child, they also are integral for building hand strength. So many parents, including me, would love to see their kindergartner writing with neat handwriting, similarly sized letters, and staying on the lines. The reality is that fine-motor control required for these skills is still developing through age 6 or 7. What helps greatly with fine motor skills are art projects - coloring, drawing, painting, cutting with scissors. The more children engage in these art activities, the more quickly they are building strong fingers and wrists, which are necessary for good handwriting.
WHAT TYPES OF ART PROJECTS ARE BEST?
Combining Process and Product Art Can Enhance Your Child’s Art Experiences
Do you sometimes feel it is a cop out to say you did “art” when your child is just coloring or drawing or painting or gluing. Is that really enough? Is that the right way to incorporate art with your kindergartner? Please know, it is not a cop out, but yes there are other ways you can incorporate art.
At Thoughtful Play, we embed art activities in our Exploration lessons. These lessons are interdisciplinary - they cover science, social studies, art, music, and much more. So, what kind of art do we do in these lessons?
First let me explain the two categories of art that are often talked about in the early childhood world: process-focused art and product-focused art. By describing these approaches to art, this will guide you in choosing the ideal art projects for your kindergarten art at home.
Process art means a child directs their own process of what they will use and how they will create the art of their choosing. Product art is adult-directed with a goal of a particular product a child will make. To do product art, an adult provides directions on how to do the art project.
Sometimes these two types of art are positioned as opposites, but that is not how we see it. The two can be combined. When done well, combining process-art and product-art can create fabulous opportunities for children to engage in meaningful art experiences and build their confidence as they make decisions based on their own artistic preferences.
As we created open-ended learning opportunities for children in our Thoughtful Play Exploration lesson plans, we focused on particular topics that align to science and social studies standards, while incorporating art with a goal to create a particular product. However, the directions we provide are entirely flexible and require that each child make decisions about the materials they will use and how they will carry out the project. The activities center children’s creativity and imagination.
Giving children the freedom that comes with process art within a structure of product art is the way to go! YES, take me to Thoughtful Play's Exploration plans so I can give my child fabulous process-product art projects!
When you are searching for kindergarten art ideas, stick with projects that give your child opportunities to make their own decisions within the structure of the project. Steer clear of the Pinterest-perfect crafts and projects that require the adult to do more than the child, or that result in a finished product that is not unique to your child's own style and preferences.
Be sure to give your child opportunities to explore their artistic expression through a kindergarten art project. Ask them questions about their artwork. Inquire about the process they used, what the title of the artwork would be and why, and how their creation makes them feel. If they ask, "Do you like it?" Respond with, "I love how hard you worked on this and the detail you included." Remind them that what matters is that they like it and that they feel good about it.
If they become frustrated because they are struggling to attain a level of perfection that so many children strive for as new artists, remind them that artists do drafts and practice their techniques. This is part of the process.
ADDITIONAL ART RESOURCES
You might wonder if you are doing enough around art, or maybe you have a child who is very passionate about art and you are looking for more to do. There are some great elementary art ideas that you can find at these resources below to expand your repertoire of art activities to carry out with your child(ren):
If you would like more ideas on how to incorporate different types of mediums into your art, such as oil pastels with baby oil, salt and watercolors, and shaving cream with watercolor paints, The Artful Parent has lots of great ideas! Check out their Top 10 Favorite Art Activities at https://artfulparent.com/top-10-art-activities-for-kids/.
If you are looking for various ways to combine process-focused and product-focussed art that also taps into art-history, we have a recommendation for you! For a more in-depth art study, in which you could learn from the works of famous artists - what materials they use, how they create depth, texture, and so much more, check out The Apprentice Art Studio at https://heather-s-school-b17f.thinkific.com/collections. In this type of pursuit you create a product, although it is unique to the creator, with a goal to recreate a famous painting through the guidance of a teacher. If this sounds like something your child would love, definitely look into The Apprentice Art Studio.
Another great resource for combining process and product art is the well-known art teacher, Cassie Stephens. Check out her blogs with fabulous art activity ideas:
https://cassiestephens.blogspot.com. Something I love about Cassie’s work are the videos. You can play them for your child and carry out the projects. She is fun, engaging, and knows how to teach art to kindergartners!
Finally, a fabulous resource for all things art, from printable coloring pages to information about the best art supplies to purchase to creative and fun process-product art projects for kids, check out https://www.kitchentableclassroom.com/category/for-kids/.
Share this with others so they too can find these websites and enhance their child's at home art engagement:
Given the Benefits, Accept the Messiness That Art Can Bring
I know that it is not always easy to dive into kindergarten art projects, in part because of the messiness that can sometimes go with it. We feel your pain with this! On the flip side, as you tidy up, just know you have given your child something wonderful. Feel good about yourself for empowering them to explore their creativity, find out who they are and what they love, and express their feelings and their spirit!
Painting with Tire Tracks (Thoughtful Play: Construction Vehicles In the When I Grow Up Week-long Plan)
Keep painting and keep playing!
Hollie Young, Ph.D.
Co-founder, Thoughtful Play, LLC
P.S. Possible organizational system for kindergarten art at home - little hands can grab what they need so they can get to work on their next masterpiece!