Hands of Children Painting in Art ClassIf you’ve ever read any of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious books or if you’ve started watching the new PBS KIDS series PINKALICIOUS & PETERRIFIC, you know that Pinkalicious and her little brother Peter are all about art. They are constantly using their imaginations — creating inventive crafts, summoning imaginary unicorns and dragons, and painting absolutely everything pink! (Don’t worry. Their parents are cool with it.)

These two characters show us that when kids explore their creativity, it leads to lots and lots of fun. But did you know that it can also lead to other important benefits throughout their lives? It’s true! Research shows that participating in art activities like music, painting, drawing and dramatic play is associated with better academic outcomes, including higher reading, writing, science and math scores. It also gives children practice with self-expression, which is great for emotional health and happiness in general.

And here’s the best news of all: Even though getting your kids into art can be invaluable to their development, it doesn’t have to be expensive for you!

Here are some simple, low-cost ways to make art a part of your family’s everyday life. Pick a few to try today, and then get ready to paint the town pink (or green, or blue, or whatever colors your children choose).

Keep Art Supplies Handy
When inspiration strikes, make sure your little artists have the tools they need to create. You don’t need an in-home art studio or a bunch of fancy equipment — kids can work wonders with some crayons, pens, pencils, markers, construction paper, scissors and tape. But the key is to have your art supplies available and accessible for kids to use whenever they like.

Make Art A Family Affair
While kids are still little, art education is more about encouragement than teaching any particular techniques. And that’s something parents can totally do! Just find a fun-looking arts and crafts project online, collect the supplies and guide your kids through it. You can even have each family member participate, then marvel at how cool it is that although you were all making the same thing, each person’s project turned out so wonderfully unique!

Turn Your Home into an Art Gallery
There are two ways to do this. First, be sure to regularly display your children’s art projects — on the fridge, in a special “art corner” or on your desk at work — to give them valuable encouragement and to boost their self-esteem. And, as a special treat, why not turn your house into an actual art gallery for a day and host a show displaying your kids’ art? You could make it as simple or elaborate as you like, incorporating aspects of real gallery shows like invitations sent to friends, several art pieces made from different mediums, and snacks and beverages for your guests.

Put Kids’ Artwork to Good Use
Once your little ones start drawing pictures and writing letters, you instantly gain the ability to save a ton of money on greeting cards! (Full disclosure: We haven’t used a store-bought card in years.) While you’re at it, think about asking your kids to make some actual gifts too. Drawings of family members, hand-painted picture frames, homemade comic books, tiny clay sculptures of bunny rabbits … so many possibilities! There are surely people on your gift list that would cherish something made by your children’s own hands.

Explore Different Types of Art
Actively engaging with music — by singing, dancing or playing instruments to the beat — is both fun and good for children’s social and language development. Baking might not seem like a fine art, but it’s definitely creative (especially when you’re generous with sprinkles and let your child help guide your creations). And playing fashion designer by redesigning old clothes with scissors, markers, sponges and fabric paint, and beads is a cool way to breathe new life into hand-me-downs.

Play Dress Up
Acting out stories and playing pretend are great ways to engage with the arts. They can also help your child’s social development since pretending to be someone else gives them practice taking on another’s thoughts, feelings and beliefs — an important skill in effectively understanding and interacting with others. You don’t really need any supplies to get started, but putting together a “costume box” full of things like hats, masks, wigs, magic wands and the like can make things even more fun. Especially when your child emerges from her room dressed as a ninja-princess-superhero-unicorn!

Get Inspired By the Pros
Researchers at the University of Missouri and the University of Arkansas found that early exposure to art museums resulted in children developing a greater appreciation for the arts throughout their lives. So look for opportunities to take your kids to the local galleries and theaters near you right now. Many museums have programs specially designed for kids and some even offer occasional free admission days! PINKALICIOUS can help with this, too: the show includes segments that introduce kids to real artists!

Have some creative-licious art ideas of your own? Show us what you’ve got in the comments!

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