12 Art Therapy Exercises for Kids
Before talking about art therapy for children, first we need to define what it actually is. Art therapy is a creative activity that is very beneficial for all types of people. But if used in childhood, it can noticeably enhance a child’s intellectual abilities.
Let’s look at the two terms separately:
- Art. This refers to everything that human beings use for recreation in an “aesthetic” way. By this we mean something that surrounds us, or human feelings or emotions that we can use different tools or methods to express. Some popular examples are painting, music and dance.
- Therapy. This consists of putting into practice a series of actions or ideas in order to overcome a physical or mental problem.
By using art therapy, we can create expressions of our inner world. We can also learn to express ourselves outwardly, and, most importantly, it can help us solve emotional and psychological problems. These techniques can be applied in children, adolescents and adults.
Why have these two words been combined?
By combining these two words, we create something that is extremely powerful. As we know, taking part in art can be a sort of detox for our inner world. It can act as a type of catharsis.
Through art therapy, the aim is to release emotions, entertain the mind and bring joy to the spirit.
As parents, and being totally responsible for raising our children, we should aim to transmit to them our feelings of peace and well-being. We must always bear in mind the importance of guiding our children along a healthy and beneficial path for their lives.
12 art therapy exercises for children
- Painting outdoors. We recommend carrying out this activity in a nearby park if there is one. Another option is your garden or patio. The important thing is to have a place where you can connect with nature. For this painting activity you’ll need a blank canvas, sheets of paper, finger paints, some colored pencils, and so on.
- Interacting with nature and being creative. Nature also provides us with certain things we can use for art therapy. The possibilities are endless. Stones, sticks, sand, earth, leaves, flowers… everything you can possibly need is there. Great pictures can be created, but the important thing here is to connect with nature.
- You paint me and I paint you. The body can be used as a tool and as the canvas onto which we can create a world of color.
- Lights and shadows. Several objects are placed on a sheet, creating shadows and the child can paint or draw the reflection of those shadows.
5. Drawing in sand. The child’s fingers are used to create figures and pictures in the sand. You can look over them, and then rub them out and start again if you aren’t happy with them.
6. Drawing on your face. This technique consists of painting on your face with your fingers or using an acrylic object.
7. Painting on natural objects. When you go on a trip to the beach, a mountain, a forest or the woods, collect everything that you think could be easily painted on, or used to make pictures. These can be sticks, shells, snail shells, stones or leaves.
8. Painting with your feet. This is a very entertaining and fun activity, which at the same time is quite a challenge. Adult supervision is certainly recommended to avoid disasters in the home!
9. Sewing stones. This activity involves embroidering around stones with a special thread, making figures using a needle.
10. Mandala of wool yarn. To make as big a mandala as possible, the whole family needs to take part enthusiastically, and enjoy this creative activity together.
11. Making sculptures with recyclable material. Instead of throwing them away, you can recycle different items and make some fascinating creations with them. We can use this activity to express our feelings, and portray things that have happened to us in the past. The best objects for this activity are plastic bottles, rolls of kitchen paper, egg cartons, among other things.
12. Drawing in the dark. Have you ever been curious enough to want to draw in the dark? It’s really quite therapeutic, especially with music playing in the background. The key here is the choice of music. Choose some tracks or an album that reminds you of something positive or negative in your life, and let the emotions and your imagination flow on to the paper.
Whenever you want your child to try out art therapy exercises, it’s important to have a responsible person to guide the process and help, if needed. It’s not all serious though, and it’s a great way to have fun with your children. There are so many possibilities and the only limit is your imagination.
Benefits of art therapy exercises for children
- Great fun.
- Develop ingenuity.
- Good for your emotional well-being.
- Increase creativity and inventiveness.
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see” – Edgar Degas.
It is said that art therapy exercises for children fulfill a specific function. The important thing is to be able to determine how to apply them for each individual person or group.
By using and applying these art therapy techniques well, they can help children develop many vital life skills and learn how to channel their emotions in an appropriate way.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Martínez, S. (2009). Arteterapia con niños en edad preescolar. Arteterapia, 4, 159-175. https://revistas.ucm.es/index.php/ARTE/article/download/ARTE0909110159A/8791/0
- Araujo, G., & GABELÁN, G. N. (2010). Psicomotricidad y arteterapia. Revista electrónica interuniversitaria de formación del profesorado, 13(4), 307-319. https://www.redalyc.org/pdf/2170/217015570026.pdf
- Añino, M. I. F. (2003). Creatividad, arte terapia y autismo. Un acercamiento a la actividad Plástica como proceso creativo en niños autistas. Arte, individuo y sociedad, 15, 135-152. https://revistas.ucm.es/index.php/ARIS/article/download/ARIS0303110135A/5837
- Miret Latas, M. À., & Jové Monclús, G. (2011). Arteterapia para todos: La clave está en la diferencia. Arteterapia: Papeles de arteterapia y educación artística para la inclusión social, 2011, vol. 6, p. 13-32. https://repositori.udl.cat/handle/10459.1/59711