Activities for children of all ages to look at, talk about and make their own discoveries about art.
As you explore this resource please keep in mind that there are no wrong answers, or that there is only one way to do the activities - they are all about looking, chatting, making, and exploring art, wherever you are and whatever you have around you.
You know your child best
Some activities may suit you better than others so pick and choose!
We’ve aimed the language at age 7+, but activities can be suitable for any age, just adapt to suit your child.
How long your child engages with the activity will vary. Depending on their age, the way they’re feeling that day, the immediate appeal of any activity... some will work better than others. Don't worry if they're not feeling it - try again another time, or move on to something else. You might be surprised by what they're interested in.
We hope these suggestions will allow your child to develop their creativity by encouraging their curiosity, open mindedness, problem-solving and imagination.
You don’t need to know anything about art to have fun with it. Encourage your child to share their ideas, observations and opinions. There’s never a wrong answer about art. And it's ok not to know all the answers. Nobody does. Where would the fun be in that?
If something worked, do it again!
Let your child lead
You don’t need to have all the ideas. In fact, if you really want your child to be creative, encouraging them to come up with their own ideas is a brilliant way to help your child be creative and explore their imagination.
Try to enjoy, together
Take a deep breath, you’re doing a brilliant job. Let us know if we can support you - we can't wait to see you in the gallery, as soon as we can.
A Seascape, Shipping by Moonlight
This is a dramatic painting by Claude Monet. Dark clouds hide the moon, but you can still see it through bright patches of white light reflecting on the water, and among the clouds. The sailing boats and steam ship provide strong silhouettes against the sky– and there is a bright light coming from the lighthouse. This artist liked moonlight scenes but he found it very difficult to paint nature at night!
These activities are inspired by the idea of finding light in the dark. They will encourage you to build a boat, design your own lighthouse, create your own starry light and listen to a special storm-inspired story.
Activity one: Feeling ‘out at sea’
We can all feel a bit lost, overwhelmed and ‘out at sea’ sometimes. It can be a scary time, and we might think that there is nothing we can do, but we can always find a light to help guide us back to safety.
- Get comfy and close your eyes.
- Concentrate on your breathing. Breathe in and out ten times.
- Once you’re settled, and breathing deeply, read this short story out loud, or in your head:
You set sail on a sunny morning. Sometime later that day, the weather takes a turn for the worse. The sky is turning black, the sea looks very dark and choppy. It is cold, and water is leaking into the boat. You have lost your way and aren’t sure how to find your way back again. But, in the distance, you can see a light – it is a lighthouse showing you the way to safety. You sail towards the lighthouse.
- Draw, paint, collage or describe the lighthouse that you can see in your imagination. It can look however you want it to look. It can be realistic or totally made up.
- Include yourself in the picture and add words that represent who, or what, is there to help you when you’re ‘out at sea’. It could be a relative, an adult from school, a friend, a pet or someone/something else.
Activity two: See, Think, Wonder
Take a moment to think about these questions:
- Look really closely, what can you see in this painting?
- Does it look like a nice place to explore? Why/why not?
- What season is it? What is the weather like?
- What colours has the artist used for the boats? The water? The sky?
- What kind of marks has he made? Smudges, wavy lines, dabs, scribbles?
- How would you describe the colours that he has chosen?
- Do the marks that he has made, and the colours he has chosen, add to the feeling of the painting? Would the painting look and feel the same if it was painted in yellow tones, for example?
- If you were to jump inside the painting what might you hear, smell and see around you?
Activity three: Set sail together
Your challenge is to make a boat that floats, to carry you through the ‘storm’. You can use anything around you. Materials could include:
- Paper or card
- Silver foil
- Plastic tub/anything from your recycling bin (ask permission first!)
- Cork bottle tops
- Egg carton
- Orange peel
- Twigs, leaves or any materials from outdoors
- String, blu-tack, tape, glue
Activity five - for under 5s: Starry night
Together explore light, darkness and shadows by creating your own starry sky.
All you need is a colander, a torch and a dark room.
Put your hand over the holes and rotate and move the colander away from the torch - and that’s it… a simple starry scene!
Enjoying playing with the torch? Encourage your wee one to find and collect objects around the house that they think will be interesting when the torch is held against them. Things that are see-through, coloured plastics, translucent, and opaque are perfect. Which ones are best for reflecting, which ones filter the light, which ones create the best shadows?