Entertaining with Art
1. Give younger kids a coloring book.
- You don’t have to buy coloring books from a store. Search online for free coloring book pages that you can print out. If you don’t have a home computer or printer, find out if your local library has any available for use.
- There isn’t an age limit for coloring books, but most children lose interest by the end of elementary school. Offer to color with older children to get them interested in the project.
- You can engage with a child who is coloring by asking questions. For children from ages 3 through 5, try asking the names of the colors being used. You can also ask about the picture being colored: “What/Who is that?” “What if we color this lighter or darker?” “Should we blend colors?”
- Be sure to provide only water soluble, non-toxic coloring utensils.
- Avoid markers and pens when using commercial coloring books. Many coloring books are printed on a type of paper that markers can bleed through, ruining the picture on the next page.
2. Encourage kids to draw.
People of all ages love to draw. Give the kids some printer paper or a sketch book and some drawing utensils.
- Toddlers can enjoy “drawing” with scribbles. Encourage them to develop their creativity and motor skills.
- While a child is drawing, ask about the picture being made. Don’t directly ask what the drawing is “supposed” to be, since this may discourage a child. Instead, ask the child to tell you about what he or she is drawing.
- Older kids may not like being asked so many questions. Save them for when the child shows you a finished drawing. You can provide a drawing prompt for older children or ask them to illustrate a story.
3. Find craft projects to do online or in books.
- Paper crafts like snowflakes
- Making pet rocks
- Store-bought crafts like models and jewelry kits
1. Read aloud to young kids.
- Rhyming books, poems, and songs are great options to read aloud. Select bright, colorful picture books that don’t have a lot of text.
- The younger the child, the slower you should go. Speak clearly and slowly, pausing at each page.
- Consider letting the child decide when it’s time to turn to the next page.
- Older kids can still enjoy being read to if it’s a more complicated story, especially before going to sleep.
- Reading to kids early and often stimulates their brains and helps them learn verbal skills.
2. Read with elementay school-aged kids.
- Keep reading the entire story to a child who is just learning how to identify simple words. However, before turning the page, try pointing to a word or two and ask if the child can read the word. Stick to easy words like “red” and “dog” at first.
- Once a child learns how to read simple sentences, encourage him or her to read picture books to you.
- If he or she gets stuck on a difficult word, encourage the child to sound it out. If that doesn’t work, gently tell the child how to say the word.
3. Help older kids to read on their own.
- Stock up on age-appropriate books and keep them where the kids can always grab one to read.
- Take the kids on a trip to bookstores and/or libraries and let them pick out their own books.
- Participate in local community reading events and book clubs for kids.
- If you can’t find a children’s reading program in your area, you can try starting one yourself. You may even be able to apply for grants to help fund these activities.
- Give older kids access to a dictionary to use when they come across unknown words.
- If you’re a babysitter, bring in a few new books to keep the kids interested. Whatever you bring along will be new and exciting and special.