From paper plates to Pointillism - Five amazing arts and crafts websites to inspire your child's creativity
“Most children will probably lose their imaginativeness and vivacity as they mature, but some will not” - said the famous abstract artist Mark Rothko, a pioneer in art education for children.
If I were in the same room with Rothko, you would see me nodding emphatically in agreement, and then raising promptly to ask: HOW CAN MY KID BECOME ONE OF THE “SOME”?
Then, I’m certain his answer would revolve around keeping more creative arts and crafts present in my children's daily life.
COVID 19 has certainly open our eyes to how many resources there are online. After inordinate number of hours "researching" (i.e. mucking around the internet) during the lockdown period, I've found many cool websites dedicated on this favorite subject.
Here I present to you five interesting one that I love (and I'm almost certain you haven't seen before! The internet world is so vast!)
(I am not affiliated with any of these websites, nor am I paid for the endorsement. All the recommendations are handpicked by me based on my preference and interest only)
Let's dive in!
1- RAISING WONDER - for drawing and coloring lovers
With their manifesto being: "CREATIVITY IS NO LONGER “NICE TO HAVE, IT’S ESSENTIAL", this website is dedicated to creativity resources, subscription-based art lessons, paper crafts, and activities to raise happily unplugged children.
It's managed by Sarah Jane Wright, a designer and children’s book author and illustrator, who wrote the “Lola Dutch” book series.
Apart from the free activities, Sarah also offers online drawing lessons based on diverse themes from robots to unicorns, dinosaurs to superheroes, mermaid to planet…,. When she made them free during initial phase of COVID-19 outbreak, words got around quickly and she gained a massive following. The lessons are no longer free at the moment, but they are still on discount - and all considered still a bargain for Hong Kong's course fee baseline.
Why I love it: As its name suggests, the website is all about inspiring sense of wonder as kids learn to appreciate ordinary things around them. Sarah's style is quite down to earth, her video lessons are fun, and her whimsical but refined style will surely charm the little kids as well as yourselves! Keep checking her blog for inspiration (even if you don't enroll in the courses), you'll find heaps of fun activities, free coloring sheets, and boredom buster suggestions.
2- ART BAR - for the material experimentalists
This graphic designer-turned-teacher and book author is passionate about helping making fun experimental crafts. Her website has many beautiful craft ideas from all kinds of cool materials: from the familiar such as playdough, cardboard, fabrics … to the more alternative such as floral foams and magnets.
Why I love it: The blog author has ample classroom experience teaching art using a mash-up of cool materials, and her vivid blog entries show! From her book to her craft ideas, she’s consistent with the philosophy: “process over products”, encouraging children to enjoy the creative process while learning to be resourceful and resilient, rather than to make "perfect" art.
If you want to really deep dive, get your hands on her book: "Art workshop for children”, which is described “perfect for anyone who spends time with young children (ages 3-8) and who is looking for art ideas that can support their child’s emerging creative journey”.
- Related: Want to experiment creating with a new material with your little ones? Check out our quiet book DIY and make it a canvas for your creativity!
3- HANDMADE CHARLOTTE - for the inspo seekers (and Pinteresters)
Get your thumbs ready for Pinteresting because this next website will make you pin A LOT. An online magazine of sort that claims to give “equal part instruction and inspiration”, this website has pretty craft projects, inspiring family space design ideas, recommendations for books and toys, all for a more beautiful and thoughtful family living.
You’d wonder how this mama of five, Rachel Faucett, manages to keep this website so polished, with impeccable aesthetics, until you learn she happens to be the designer for major brands like Anthropologie and Pottery Barn Kids!
Why I love it: Many lovely (and original!) craft ideas and stunning photos to match. Rachel is named one the top 20 most influential Pinterest users by Business Insider – I’ll happily follow her Pinterest crowd and get lost in her wonder world.
4- ORANGE EASEL SCHOOL OF ART - for the serious art lovers
(OK, I admit I don’t remember how I came across this website – it just says a lot about my mucking around. This art school is located all the way in Kansas, USA where I’ve never been nor heard about before!)
They have some cool online classes for kids that are definitely worth checking out if you are nearer to the US time zone, though they are not practical for Asia-based families as the lesson times usually fall between midnight to 3am when they should rightly be asleep.
However, the main reason I put the website in this list is because I am in love with and inspired by their unusual approach to art education for kids.
Why I love it: Remember the times you send kids to art making classes and they come back with such cute “art works” that make you go awwww? Well, this school doesn’t do that.
They specifically instruct teachers not to send home final products, instead encouraging children and teachers to focus more on the process of making art in class. I find it quite respectable, a true dedication to teaching the vocation of art instead of pleasing the parents, that is frankly rare in the normal kindergarten setting.
I also love that they are teaching art history from the tender age of three. How cool is that? They introduce preschoolers to famous artists such as Mondrian, Matisse and Van Gogh through easy, do-able activities. That alone makes me want to enroll my kids in this school right this minute!
But no matter how much I love art, I wouldn't want to wake my kids up in the middle of the night for these drool-worthy lessons (mind you, I would always love SLEEP more, for myself and my little ones!). So for now I would contend with gleaning from their blog to copy some of the lessons and free tutorials, including the Van Gogh-et-al art inspired activities above, or this lesson on paper sculpture and sumi ink.
- Related: Inspire your child's inner creativity with our fantastic handmade quiet books!
5- OUTSCHOOL - for the insatiable art learner
This last website is a big online database of lessons for children from 3 years old in all subjects, art being one of them (inside the art category there are drawing, photography, dance, theater, film, and sewing!) You can take the lessons live with the teachers or learn at your own pace, at quite reasonable prices.
You can commit to the whole month-long course or just take lesson by lesson based on a particular subject.
Why I love it: Whether your child is already interested in art or just looking for something new to do, this website is worth bookmarking for a long haul. The art lessons offering is quite diverse, as is the make-up of teachers, so your child can pick anything that piques their interest – from finger painting to princess drawing to Pointillism (yes, four year old can do it already!), and follow the teachers that resonate with them the most.
I’m particularly drawn to the art content that ties in some elements of art history and this collection seems to have plenty of them for my little ones to check out. I'm pinning the "Art Class With A Touch of History, Math, Lit and Science" (age 4-9) and the "Spot-on" Sunflower Pointililism Painting Inspired by George Seurat" (also age 4-9), and possible some for myself!
I hope this list inspires you to do more arts and crafts activities at home with your little ones this summer and beyond. Do you know other cool A&C websites that parents should check out? Please visit our Facebook and Instagram to share!