5 after-school crafts for elementary students

Pablo Picasso once said, “”Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” And it is true that art forms the basis of learning in children, who use all of their senses to discover their world.

Art education is a valuable part of your child’s academic life. It has a profound impact on developing important skills like problem solving, cognitive, and fine motor abilities, just to name a few. According to Americans for the Arts, kids who are involved in an art program on a regular basis reap the benefits. Art helps to strengthen problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, build self-confidence and self-discipline, and plays a central role in cognitive, motor, language, and social-emotional development.

Here are five basic arts and crafts that are great for after-school activities.


Perfect for any age, drawing is critical for toddlers and preschoolers because it helps to develop fine motor skills and prepare them for writing. The best part is that all you need is paper and a box of crayons. But as your child grows older, offer her a wide variety of art supplies to experiment with, such as chalk, markers, colored pencils, watercolor crayons and pencils, oil pastels, construction paper, sketch pads, and charcoal.


Using their hands to create things out of clay helps children to develop their sense of proportion, as well as to develop spatial acuity. Children learn to see an object from various angles and understand that there is more than one side. In addition, creating items out of clay with their own hands helps a child to internalize certain concepts. For example, asking a preschooler to shape the letter “A” out of playdough can help him with letter recognition and develop his pre-literacy skills. Small children should start with non-toxic play dough and modeling clay, but older children may prefer sculpey clay or air-dry clay so that they can keep their creations long after they’re made.


A good stamp set will keep your child entertained for hours. We like this type of art because it requires your child to think about direction (is the stamp right side up?), position, and even mirror images. This activity isn’t as messy as some of the others, which is a plus in my book – just be sure to use washable ink with little children! Melissa & Doug has a large selection of themed stamp sets that are sure to capture any child’s imagination.

But creative parents can offer their children different types of fruits and vegetables, cut in half and dipped in non-toxic paint, to let their children explore different shapes and textures. Just be sure your child doesn’t eat the art supplies!


Painting is such a fantastic form of art because it really can take on so many different styles. It is great for helping children learn to duplicate on canvas, what they see in real life. Children must think about colors, shapes, texture, movement, and other characterics of their subjects. Small children can start with watercolors, tempera and finger paints. Older children my prefer washable, acrylic, and oil paints. Canvas, paper, wood, and fabric are just some of the materials on which children can paint.

 Sticker Collages

Who doesn’t love a good collage? This activity is perfect for helping children learn to think about the individual elements that make up a scene (i.e., the sky, the grass, the trees, the coulds, etc.), or about how things are related when they are creating themed collages (i.e, things your write with, things you eat, animals that live in water, the color red, etc.) Lots of critical thinking is required for making collages. Children can use old magazines, newspaper clippings, stickers, or even three-dimensional objects like yarn, buttons, feathers, ribbons, pom poms, and more. A perfect art project for any age.

5 after school crafts for elementary students monica oliveras profile small 1 parenting family NBC Latino News

Monica Olivera Hazelton, NBC Latino contributor and  the founder and publisher of MommyMaestra.com, a site for Latino families that homeschool, as well as families with children in a traditional school setting who want to take a more active role in their children’s education. She is the 2011 winner of the “Best Latina Education Blogger” award by LATISM.

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