Now more than ever, kids are asking a lot of questions about the world and the future. Why did my camp plans change? Why do I have to wear a mask? When will the germs go away? And while these questions are valid, it may be difficult for parents to respond in age-appropriate ways as they contend with the same unknowns themselves. One tangible thing parents can do is introduce thoughtful activities at home to help their children process these complex ideas and emotions. Sarah Ceurvorst, Art Educator at The Ellis School, is sharing four art activities parents can do that will act as a catalyst for answering their kids’ big questions.
Create Installation Forts to Discuss Safety
Addresses questions like: Will I get sick? Why do I have to keep washing my hands? Why do I have to wear a mask?
One way parents can help kids feel safe is by giving them space, or in this case, a place, of their own to feel comfortable. Using blankets, sheets, and strategically placed furniture, create an installation fort alongside your child somewhere in your home. Give them free reign to decorate by encouraging them to add different items that make them happy—stuffed animals, toys, blankets, pillows, etc. Let them know that the tent is a safe space they can go when they’re feeling worried, scared, or vulnerable or just need some quiet time. Inspired by installation artist and sculptor Do Ho Suh, these mini forts can be added on to, changed, moved, or revamped at any time.
Create Simon Says, Drawings to Discuss Control
Addresses questions like: Why can’t I see my friends like normal? Why am I not going to soccer practice?
If you have noticed that your child has been acting out more and not able to control their temper as well as usual, you’re not alone. Many children are feeling out of sorts because their routines have changed, so they are seeking out control in other ways. One way you can help them work through these emotions and discuss control is through the Simon, Says, drawing game. This simple yet effective game allows your child to feel in control in a healthy, safe, and creative way. The idea is simple: your child is Simon and decides what you will draw. Set a timer and encourage them to keep the directions clear like, “draw a dog,” and “draw a funny face.” This game has deep roots in the art world and is inspired by Japanese artist Takako Saito. Let your kid lead the way in a safe, fun way with Simon, Says!
Create Mail Art to Discuss Community and Connection
Addresses questions like: When can we visit grandma? Why can’t you spend more time with me when you’re home?
In the wake of the pandemic, your child’s playdates with friends and family members probably aren’t taking place as normal. One creative way to strengthen relationships and connections with loved ones while at home is through mail art. Simply have your child decorate a letter they wrote, or even the envelope they’re sending it in, and ask the recipient to add onto the drawing before mailing it back. It’s like pen pals but with a creative twist! Embellish envelopes and letters with colored pencils, crayons, markers, or stickers and build relationships through the postal service. Children are always excited to receive mail and this is a creative way to stay in touch with friends and family across great distances.
Create Yarn Tangles to Discuss Racial Inequity
Addresses questions like: Why are people protesting? What is the Black Lives Matter movement?
Approaching heavy topics or abstract concepts with your child can be difficult, especially when you are processing your own feelings and emotions about those ideas at the same time. But the great thing about art is that it gives parents a concrete way to discuss problems and gives kids tangible materials they can touch and manipulate as they process and ask questions. One art project parents can do to discuss racial inequity with their children is yarn knotting. Conceived by Dr. Erin Winkler, ask your kids to make as big a knot as they can. Then ask them to untangle it. Discuss how “unfairness” around race has been tangled up in our country for a long time. Let your child know that some of that knot has been untangled already thanks to people like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., but that our country still has a long way to go and that’s what people are fighting for right now. Take this time to ask your child what they might do to help if they see something unfair happening and think through different ideas together.
To gather even more ideas for art activities for your kids at home, watch Sarah’s free webinar and keep the creativity flowing!