Kidaptive Blog

Exploring self-expression: Exercising your child’s creative muscles

, November 22, 2014

Art is a natural way for children to exercise their creative muscles and engage in self-expression, and the best way to start is to simply explore the materials! Use this activity to help your child focus on the process of self-expression, rather than the end product.


  • Paper
  • Paint
  • Crayons or markers
  • Any other art materials you and your learner choose


1. Invite your child to make some art, explaining that they can make anything they want.

2. Let your child explore the art materials on their own.

3. Watch as they work, and narrate their activity (without praising, guiding, or correcting their creative choices). For example, you might say:

  • “You’re using red paint now. That’s a really bright color.”
  • “You’re choosing to use lots of glue for that piece.”
  • “You’re making lines on that paper really quickly.”

4. When your learner tells you that they’re done, ask them about their process. For example, you might point out a particular aspect or area of their creation and say, “Tell me about this.”

5. Offer them another piece of paper, and let them explore the materials again until they feel that they’re finished.

As your child works, keep an eye out for signs that they are intentionally expressing an idea, such as using one material in multiple ways, labeling their work with a title or topic, or describing their work with emotion words or a story.

There are many fun craft activities that involve following specific directions, and although those are great for practicing other areas of development, they can hinder children’s self-expression. Make sure to balance your child’s opportunities to make something specific with opportunities for open-ended exploration!

We would love to hear your thoughts on this activity, as well as suggestions on future topics to cover! Please leave a comment.

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