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The Artful Playground: Engaging Kids in Creative Play and Expression

A hand drawn sketch by a kid. Engaging kids in creative play.

The imagination of kids is a wonderful thing. One can never keep up with it. One moment they will be digging in the ground pretending to be a miner of worms. Another moment they will be an astronaut flying to the planet cheesecake! Engaging kids in creative play and providing opportunities for artistic expression becomes a necessity as it plays a vital role in their cognitive and emotional development.

From the early years, children naturally gravitate towards creative expression, whether it’s through drawing, coloring, or engaging in craft activities. These endeavors are not merely child’s play; they contribute to their overall growth by fostering cognitive abilities and enabling them to navigate and understand the world around them.

Have you ever reminisced about the numerous sandcastles your child built with beach sand? Or perhaps you’ve discovered their artwork adorning the walls of your home, a testament to their fascination with pens and pencils as tools of creation. These experiences illustrate the innate drive in children to express themselves artistically.

In this blog, we will embark on a journey to explore the profound importance of engaging children in creative play. Grab your notepads and pens, as we delve into the step-by-step exploration of the multifaceted benefits that interactive art play offers to children.

Phad painting by students of Maharaja Sawai Bhawani Singh.
Image source: Instagram. @msbss.official

What does interactive art play for children exactly mean? 

Apart from the usual definition of art and its application by children on pen and paper, art can be used as a creative teaching method to understand the core concept in education. A child’s mind needs continual stimulation and they need to express themselves in one way or the other to improve their social, physical, and cognitive skills. 

Interactive and creative art play, such as drawing, crafts, painting, etc., can satisfy their need for self-expression to develop physical skills. Of course, creative play also includes role-play, music, and dancing. Creating an artful playground can help in stimulating an environment not only for creative expression but also as a learning mechanism. 

For example, recently we initiated a program ‘Phad se Padh’ where we wished to redefine the conventional methods of learning. Phad is a traditional art painting form and students used the Phad paintings to better understand their textbook concepts and other issues. 

Hence, in a very basic sense, engaging kids in creative play would mean maintaining a synergy between visual arts as a medium of expression and learning educational concepts to better stimulate the cognitive learning skills of children.

Why are expressive art activities for kids important?

As mentioned, the creative play makes sure to develop the abilities of your child as a creative thinker and make it possible for them to give a physical form to their ideas and thoughts. Inculcating this may seem tedious to educational planners with already hectic schedules and the need to teach new technology coming up every day. 

However, creating space for immersive education, at home or school, is important to enhance skills such as problem-solving, social interaction, spatial awareness, understanding symbols, etc. One of the research papers by Sylvia Stavridi has summarized the benefits of visual art on children, which can be seen in the following image.  

Research study on the benefits of engaging kids in creative play.
Image source: Research Gate (The Role of Interactive Visual Art Learning in the Development of Young Children’s Creativity)

Yes, whenever a new drawing appeared on your walls, it helped stimulate your child’s cognitive skills and aided in the development of some very necessary skills. Now, how amazing would it be if your children drew on proper surfaces instead of your walls? That’s what we are talking about!

Engaging your child’s creative quests in interactive art play can help you both. Whether you are a parent or an educator, we strongly recommend expressive art activities for kids because they include many benefits such as: 

Stimulating imagination and creativity

Children get a chance to experiment with new ideas, materials, and objects. They can create various environments and be in charge of whether they like it or not, or what are some of the changes they can implement to make it better. 

Boosting intellectual abilities

When your children are engaged in creative activities, it becomes easier for them to recognize patterns, understand symbols, and comprehend more complex concepts. 

Enriching the development of social skills

Role play is a suitable method of initiating social interaction, but kids approaching teenage might not feel it as fun as before, right? Well, many collaborative art activities and projects can further help in the development of social skills, not to mention exchanging of ideas and thoughts!

It might seem like a task to get your children and students to pick up artistic endeavors if they haven’t done so before. But, they need to start the journey. You can routinely talk about art and try to instill interest in your kids to consider engaging in creative expression and play. You can take them to art fests or museums to get them curious about art history and how art has evolved with time. 

What are some artful playground activities to engage young artists?

There doesn’t have to be a trade-off between digital art and traditional art, believe us. Whether it is ancient art styles such as mandalas or phad painting, or it is 3-D modeling on Procreate, you can help your child learn both. 

But don’t forget, digital art is more advanced and complex than traditional art, so it’s for the best that your children start with traditional art. There are many ways of creative exploration for young artists such as: 

Collaborative Art

Collaborative back-and-forth drawings where a group of children can create a masterpiece together. Let’s say while drawing a Mandala children can take turns to decide on the design they want to carry forward in consequent circles. 

Simon Says

Simon Says, Draw! Yes, you can replicate that game outside your playgrounds and onto your drawing books. 

Art activities improve the creative expression of kids.
Image source: Photo by Yan Krukau from pexels.com

Pictionary

Pictionary can be used to help children better express words with drawings. It is one of the best ways of engaging kids in creative play because its primary focus isn’t drawing, but rather the best way to visualize a particular word, facilitating them to link objects with their visual representation. 

DIY Board Games

What if you can make your own board game? How fun would that be! One sort of interactive play can be to create a board game that students can ideate themselves. 

Murals

Using paints and painting styles, such as Warli art or Madhubani art, you can create beautiful murals. How about letting students decorate the art room themselves with beautiful traditional murals? 

Comic Strips

Creating a comic strip is a way to get students to practice their storytelling skills and display their artistic prowess. 

Observe & Draw

Observational Drawings such as ‘What do I see around my home?’ or ‘What do I encounter the most in my surroundings?’ can be used as interactive art play for children.  

You can experiment with as many creative settings as you can by combining traditional art with learning. While Legos are a good start in helping your children to build structures, you can slowly progress to other mediums such as clay to help your children give visual representation to their ideas. 

Conclusion

There’s no end to expressive art activities for kids, whether it is on online websites, tutorials, classrooms, or in the comfort of one’s home. By giving children a way to express their thoughts and understanding, you can do a wonderful job to stimulate their minds and help them to be more aware of what they like or dislike, or how to model a particular situation. 

Initiatives like ‘Phad se Padh’ are proven successful in how one can use traditional art as a medium of learning and creating awareness, and we hope more such activities and initiatives are recreated as a process for the better development of children. By engaging young artists you would not only support their dreams but also help in creating a better world!

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