Instruction-free art time: watch your child create

creativesummer.jpgI love the innocent creativity of my preschooler. She draws, dances, sings, and invents without a care in the world, and I want to do what I can to give her the space and freedom to create.

There are scads of great art and craft ideas on the internet, and they are some of my favorite places for inspiration. In fact, I’ll soon be reviewing an excellent book that has completely re-inspired me to tap into my creative side as a mama. (Oh, and of course, there will be a giveaway attached to the review. But that’s later.)

But there are times when I just don’t have it in me to plan out a specific craft idea – the research, the supply gathering, the instructing. And you know? Sometimes my daughter just doesn’t have it in her to be instructed on how to create. She just needs the tools to do it on her own.

So that’s when we have free art time.


All you need to do is provide some art supplies, an open, safe place to create, minimal distractions, and time. Soft background music also speaks peace. Depending on the age, your child might need some help or guidance, of course.


But really, that’s half the fun for us – the laundry can wait an hour. Roll up your sleeves and get out the glue. You’ll be surprised at the art your child can muster, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised as you destress and relax as a family.


So many things can become art supplies: there’s crayons and paper, of course, but don’t forget about rocks, leaves, scraps of paper, magazine clippings, cotton balls, toilet paper rolls, fabric, buttons, feathers, sand, and even dirt.


How is your child going to create today? How are you going to create? Start your week on a good note, and let your child tap into her creativity. And don’t forget to tap into your own.

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. This is my FAVORITE art time, my oldest creates his own projects almost daily now! We have a big overflowing drawer filed with STUFF, he loves it!!!

    I love your photos of your girls, what a beautiful mess!

    🙂 Carisa

    Carisas last blog post..Tot School

  2. I am not as creative as a parent as I had hoped to be so instruction free art time is about all I can muster up 🙂 My son is amazing at what he does though and I am always excited to see what he comes up with. Kids have that knowledge already, we just have to give them the time, space, and tools to tap into it.

    Have you read “The Creative Family” by Amanda Blake Soule yet? It is the best book I have ever read on creative parenting. I am looking forward to her next book!

    Amys last blog post..A Struggle to Be Faithful

  3. @Carisa – Thanks! Although I can only claim one girl as mine; the other one is a friend of hers.

    @Amy – I absolutely agree about kids already having the knowledge within them – we just need to give them the space to find it. And yes, I adore that book!

  4. Great read! Art is certainly a healthy way to keep the youngters busy.

    Also, I noticed you fixed your sidebar in IE 7. Congrats! 😉

  5. Um, yeah, free art time is about all we manage around here, too. Free and very creative, since the kids often scavenge and use their own supplies, too. 🙂

    Right now, both boys are “creating” boats and grass and stacks out of legos. Later today they will make mud cakes in the yard or maybe sand castles. My oldest (almost five) just got a new batch of watercolor paper, so he will likely ask to paint later on. My youngest? He already had his fill of pre-breakfast crayons. LOL! He colors for about half a minute and then starts chomping!

    Those are sweet photos — and the egg carton idea seems like a good one. Thanks again for a nice post!

    Oh, hm… for my creating today? I will do some cooking, and maybe later tonight, I will do some writing. I will also take care to create some nice vibes around here. I’ve been a bit grumpy lately.

    Stacy (mama-om)s last blog post..Lies and Broken Glass

  6. I remember LOVING this type of art when I was a kid. Thanks for the reminder.
    Also, I’m using pear budgeting. It is so incredibly easy. My sister is using it now, too!

    chrissies last blog post..Fresh from the Tree Lemonade

  7. Great post – I love free art time! My son spent over an hour this morning “painting” water on our sidewalk – who new?

    Alana @ Gray Matterss last blog post..Kale – 3 months

  8. What a great idea! We’re all sick in my house today so I think this is exactly what we’ll be doing. Thanks for the pointers 🙂

  9. Great reminder! My Pickle-girl just turned two and is really starting to ‘get’ art time! I’m looking forward to your book review!

    Ambers last blog post..Summer ‘Swim’ Date

  10. Glad it was a good “reminder” for you all. This is definitely not a new idea – but in the bombardment of all the great ideas out there to plan for our kids, it’s easy to forget that kids often want to invent and create on their own.

  11. Thanks for the motivation. I am so slow to get the craft stuff out for my kids, but you made it seem doable and fun. I’ll have to get moving around my house! My kids will love it!

    Tami@ourhouses last blog post..Russian movie viewers can now flock to Moscow Flix website for renting russian DVD’s

  12. This was a wonderful post… Hope does a great job creating her own creative art… However, at times it is on the walls and furniture:)~ I want to gather some of our supplies and let her go to town with them… your pictures look like so much fun:)

    Shelly G.s last blog post..Roosters-N-Rickrack Pinafore GIVEAWAY!!!!

  13. I keep a tote in the basement and toss in anything that could be used for a craft. I get quite a bit from thrift sales and garage sales and I never have a shortage of stuff for their free craft time.

    Nikis last blog post..My glass jar obsession

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