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Projects for Youth: Ages 5 & Under

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Leaf Prints

Try your hand at printmaking with this fun activity! It only takes three materials to create vibrant prints of your own.

View Instructions Here

Glue Monsters

This is a great project that combines art and science for kids to create their own slimy monsters!

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Fire-breathing Dragon Craft

This activity is a great introduction to kinetic art for kids and will provide hours of fun!

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Cardboard Roll Flower Stamp

This is a great activity to teach young artists the value of reusing materials. After you master flowers try creating other plant and animal shapes!

View Instructions Here

DIY Foam Paint

Foam paint adds great textures and is tons of fun! 4 supplies is all you need – Shaving Cream, Elmer’s Glue, Food Coloring, and Paper!

View Instructions Here

Paper Owl Mask

Create cool masks for your next backyard play with these simple and fun instructions. Once you master owls, try to challenge yourself to create other animal masks!

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Egg Carton Ocean Scenes

Display shells, gems, rocks, and other treasures by transforming an empty egg carton into an ocean wonderland! 

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Bubble Snake Maker

Take your bubble game to the next level with this awesome Bubble Snake maker! Mix and match your snakes with different sized bottles and coloring to unleash snakes throughout the entire yard!

View Instructions Here

Colorful Spinners

These paper spinners will provide hours of fun for the whole family!

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Straw Flowers

Give your summer beverage some flair by turning your straw into a flower and sip in style. 

View Straw Flower Instructions

Glue Suncatchers

Sun can be hard to come by in Michigan sometimes, so catch it while you can! A little bit of glue and food coloring can go a long ways towards brighting up your windows.

View Glue Suncatcher Instructions

Fingerprint Art

Here’s a project you can really be “all thumbs” with! This is a great little project for the kiddos. All you need is paper, a stamp pad, and an ink pen. Ink up those fingers and stamp them randomly around a piece of paper. Give them a few minutes to dry and then use an ink pen to transform them into monsters, animals, cars, balloons, fish- the sky’s the limit!

View Fingerprint Art Examples

View Fingerprint Art Video Instructions

Cloud Dough

Oh, man. For a super pleasant, squishy experience, check out this easy-peasy cloud dough recipe. We gave this recipe a spin and it literally took 1 minute. It may take 2 or 3 minutes if you wanted to work in some food coloring. We used cheap V05 strawberry conditioner with corn starch- roughly 2 parts corn starch, 1 part conditioner. Slowly mix in the cornstarch until the dough feels right. It smelled lovely and made the softest clay. This is definitely addictive and is very much how we imagine a cloud would feel.

View Cloud Dough Instructions

Construction Paper Mosaics

A mosaic is artwork created by placing colorful small pieces of stone, tiles or other materials closely together to form an image. Tile mosaics were a popular form of artwork used by the Greeks, Romans, and other cultures throughout history. Lightly draw an image on a piece of construction paper. Now cut other colors of construction paper up into small squares and glue the small squares of colored construction paper onto your image to in effect, “color it in”. Keep the tiles close together, but allow a little bit of breathing room between them.

View Paper Mosaic Examples

Homemade Stamps

We hope you’ll find this easy craft for kids “imPRESSive”! (We really worked hard on that pun.) Homemade stamps can be made in a wide variety of ways. Bottle caps and craft foam are a great way to create very specific shapes. Blocks wrapped with yarn, the time-tested potato stamp carving, and wine corks with foam or other stampable materials attached all work well. This is kind of a 2 activities bundled into 1 sort of experience, as once they make the stamp, kids can then enjoy using it to create lots of patterned artwork.

View Homemade Stamp Variations

Nature Collages

It is practically summer, so we are sure spring must be… neeaar-ish??? Yes. Yes it is! There are leaves on trees now and a couple of flowers here and there! Don’t let this window of opportunity pass you by! Forage and gather a few natural materials, being careful not to harm new growth, and get collaging! The image paired with this post is of animals and may appeal more to young children, but the link below contains inspiration including a few more advanced collages, fairies, butterflies and insects, collages that incorporate drawing, and some outdoor earthworks. Get in some sunshine and fresh air this weekend with these seasonal sensations!

View Nature Collage Examples

Coffee Filter Butterflies & Crafts

While toilet paper may be hard to find, coffee filters seem to be plentiful. Add some dazzling color to the filters with washable marker designs spritzed with water or dip them in food dye, then transform them into stunning butterflies, beautiful blooms, and more! View more crafts below.

View Coffee Filter Crafts

Tin Can Crafts

We CANnot believe how many cool things can be made with tin cans. We know you’re thinking, tin can art was so 1980’s. Wrong. It’s totally in for 2020. With more cans around our house than tp rolls, we’re bringing it back. Make some prolific robot sculptures, luminaria, windchimes, or your own unique metal marvels with last night’s spaghetti o’s (or organic, low-sodium, gluten free soup) can!

View Tin Can Crafts

Watercolor Insects in Warm & Cool Colors

Are you buggin’ out from all the indoor time? Check out this bright and cheery watercolor insect project. Learn about warm and cool colors. You can incorporate any type of bug you want- a giant beetle, lady bug, praying mantis, bumblebee, ant, stink bug, or even an imaginary insect.

Watercolor Insect Instructions

Secret Drawings

With just the flick of a white crayon or oil pastel, create a secret drawing that no one else can see. Just paint over the paper with vibrant watercolor paints, liquid watercolor, or watered-down tempera paints and all will be revealed! The paint will not cover over the white crayon or oil pastel- they act as a “resist”. The drawing will show up best if you press a little harder with the crayon or draw thicker lines.

View Secret Drawing Instructions

Tiny Pets

These pocket-sized pets are great for kids and even more fun to make. Put those old altoid tins or small boxes into use. Many of the examples in the link below use felt, but construction paper, found materials, sculpey clay, and other odds and ends will work just as well.

View Tiny Pet Examples

Fairy Garden Accessories

With the weather starting to warm up, there’s no time like the present to get working on a Fairy Garden. Grab your glue gun, some twigs, twine, wire, acorns, and whatever other found materials you have laying around to accessorize your fairy’s dream home.

Fairy Garden Accessories Examples

Nebula Jars

Are you obsessed with glitter? For those of you that need some sparkle in your life, here’s a colorful, swirly, hypnotic project for you and the kids. You can use a mason jar, a plastic water bottle, a small vial, or just about anything that is both sealable and transparent.

View Nebula Jar Instructions

Upcycled Fashion

Even while we’re indoors, it can never hurt to dress your best! Check out the link below for instructions on how to make candy wrapper bracelets, newspaper hats and outfits, recycled t-shirt headbands and bracelets, a superhero jet pack and duct tape mask, easy fabric scrap tutus, no-sew t-shirt bags and more!

View Upcycled Fashion Examples & Instructions

Paper Marbling

Add a little zip to your paper scraps with a variety of different paper marbling techniques! Try one or try them all. From our experience, we love how well paper marbling with shaving cream comes out. The colors are usually vibrant and crisp, the leftover shaving cream is fun to play with, and it leaves a pleasant smell in the air… for a very long time. So you might want to do it outside. Our summer campers adored this activity. Be sure to check out some of the other paper marbling methods that use oil, milk, and more. You can use the marbled papers you make to create cards or other projects.

View different paper marbling methods

Pop-Up Cards

Bring your cards to life with some 3-dimensional elements! Make a cute chick, like in the picture, or a scary monster! Are you a little older and up for more challenge? Try out some of the more complex examples of pop-up cards show in the link below.

View Pop-Up Card Examples and Instructions

Scribble Creature

Start with one continuous scribble on your page, then find faces within your scribbles and draw them in! Do this on your own or with someone else. You can make a scribble, trade it with a partner, and then find the creatures within it. To stretch this activity out, add some color!

View Scribble Creature Examples

No-Mess Smush Painting

No mess. Such beautiful words. This is a super easy one for the kidlets. Just a few drops of paint on some paper, pop it in a ziploc bag, seal it up tight, and let your tiny painter smush away!

View Smush Painting Instructions & Twists

Homemade Sidewalk Chalk Paint

Chalk this up as an easy-breezy outdoor activity for those upcoming sunny days. There’s a number of different recipes or ways to do it. You can use brushes and muffin tins, squirt bottles, or spray bottles- you can even make frozen sidewalk chalk. Test this out on the next nice day.

View Sidewalk Chalk Painting Info

1,000 Toilet Paper Tube Crafts

Okay, so we know some of you out there have, shall we say, an abundance of toilet paper. Like a beaver building a damn, you have assembled a near fortress of toilet paper Here is your chance to emerge from your 2-ply, ultra-soft Charmin abode and put the remnants to use in a creative capacity. Get rollin’!

View TP Tube Craft Examples

RAISED SALT PAINTINGS

Feeling a little salty lately with all this indoor time? Get it all out on paper with this fun painting activity. It calls for liquid watercolors, but you can use watered down food coloring or watered down tempera paint.

VIEW RAISED SALT PAINTING INSTRUCTIONS

Fabric Mache Bowls

Put some of your nicest fabric scraps to work and make a dazzling fabric mache bowl. We tested this out with our youngest group of Art Campers (5-7 year olds) and they made some great pieces. In that case, we had solo cups on-hand and used them instead of bowls to make fabric pencil holder cups. Feel free to experiment with different shapes and vessels beyond bowls. Narrow strips of fabric work well and they shouldn’t be too long- no more than 6 inches. It may take more than one layer of fabric mache. Let each layer of fabric dry before you add another. Thinner, natural fabrics, like cotton work best. If you have old cotton shirts or clothes, this is a great way to repurpose them.

View Fabric Mache Bowl Instructions

“Taste Buds” Pairings

Designer and Illustrator Philip Tseng created a series of “Taste Buds” Pairings- food characters that have found their better half. His fun kawaii-style characters brightened our day. Some things are just better when they’re together. Try your hand at creating your own favorite food pairings!

View examples of “Taste Buds”

MAKE THE LONGEST PAPER CHAIN EVER

This activity is guaranteed to keep going and going and going…

Light up your life with a little color, or a LOT of color! Use up all that scrap paper and junk mail- just make sure the paper is thick enough to hold a little weight. Give it a nice color pattern. Start out with some easy goals. A paper chain that’s 10 feet long, a chain that goes around the entire room, a chain that can go around the entire house… you can really take this as far as you would like it to go. The internet tells us that the Guiness Book of World Records lists the longest paper chain as 54.33 miles. So you should probably get started now.

Moveable Cat or Dog Character

Make some kinetic art today! Use the instructions and template below to create a moveable dog or cat character. You can also use the same premise and construction methods to create an entirely different character that is all your own. Cardstock or posterboard works great for this (if you do print the template out, you can glue it right onto it). Construction paper will work too, but may be more fragile. What are you waiting for? GET “MOVING”!

Calling All Pancake Artists!

Wondering what to have for breakfast? Dial up your first meal of the day with some color and creativity! Add a little food coloring to your pancake batter. Pouring each color of batter into a squeeze bottle is great if you have them, but you can also use whatever containers you have at home- a liquid measuring cups, empty-clean-and-repurposed condiment squeeze bottles or water bottles, a turkey baster, etc. No food coloring on-hand or prefer not to use it? No problem! The link of examples also features some images of pancake designs made without food coloring. We hope you will share with us your culinary creativity and send pics of your pancake art to artpix@annarborartcenter.org!

Learn how to make pancake art

View examples of extra cool pancake art

Sweet-to-Scary Drawings

These drawings may start out sweet and innocent, but a terrifying surprise awaits when you unfold the paper! Let loose your creativity and explore how to design your own monstrous creature or character!

Learn how to make a Sweet-to-Scary Drawing

View examples of Sweet-to-Scary Drawings

Painting with Bubbles

Who doesn’t love bubbles? You might— if you do this indoors, lol! So take this project OUTSIDE and enjoy all that bubble painting has to offer. We did this with our summer camp and the kids had a blast! Word to the wise, tempera paint may be a little less “stainy” on the skin than food coloring (#lifelessons) -unless you’re using red. Red with any type of paint likes to linger. Experiment with using one straw to blow bubbles or even tape a few together. If you don’t have straws, you can always use bubble wands or a water bottle cut off 1/3 of the way down from the top. You can put the bubble mixture in cups or in a muffin tin. For an extra “burst” of creativity, mask the paper with cut-out shapes and blow bubbles around the mask. Explore and experiment!

Learn how to make a bubble painting

Mini Golf Course Design: Indoor or Outdoor

As a 16 year veteran of summer camp programs, if you want something that will keep your kids busy and requires relatively little effort on your part (at least for kids ages eight and up)… mini golf course design is a real winner. This can be as artful as your kids want to make it. Cardboard, large cardboard tubes, old pool noodles, and random upcycled materials are your friends. Truly, you can make a mini golf course out of just about anything. The whole effort is a balance of artistic design and engineering. If you don’t have a golf club handy, no worries. You can make one out of found materials or cardboard. If you don’t want to go big, you can go TINY and make a tabletop version that you can play with a marble. For an extra challenge (or strategic advantage!), have them spin around ten times before they golf.

View examples of Mini Golf Course Designs

Sculpt with Kinetic Sand

Kinetic sand can be a little messy, so it may be better as an outdoor activity or in some sort of deep container indoors. It is easy to make, holds some form (like beach sand does), and the squish of the sand is strangely satisfying! We found that you will occasionally, over time need to rehydrate this recipe with more of the solution. If you see colored kinetic sand on the web, it was probably made with pre-colored craft sand. Regular, plain brown sand from the sandbox works just fine. So whip up a batch and sculpt away! Note: the recipe is way at the very bottom of the webpage listed below.

View kinetic clay recipe