Art making is a staple in every child’s education. And though art is typically an unstructured activity, there are a few ways to ensure the experience is fun for students and seamless for you.

Art making is a staple in every child’s education. And though art is typically an unstructured activity, there are a few ways to ensure the experience is fun for students and seamless for you.

Banish Boredom by Rebecca Green includes a variety of engaging activities that you can try with your students, including art, science, and sensory projects as well as outdoor activities and field trips. Rebecca also provides guidelines for approaching an art project so that it’s a good experience for both you and your students. We’ve summarized them in seven steps:

1. Brainstorm art project ideas

Before gathering materials, spend some time thinking about what kind of art you’d like to make with your students. To come up with project ideas, research ideas online, peruse art blogs and books, and tap into your own interests and experience. You can also find inspiration from everyday things - like a trip to the store or a walk through the park. Keep a running list of art projects you’d like to try that you can refer to.

2. Make art on a budget

Based on your project ideas, find ways to purchase art supplies cost-effectively. You can save by buying in bulk - for example, this Big Box of Art Materials - and reusing the same materials for different projects. Once your art supplies are pretty well-stocked, it’s easier to set your students up with simple activities, like just coloring with markers.

3. Provide developmentally appropriate activities

Consider the age of your students and their particular personalities before choosing a project. Choose projects that every student can participate in, even if it’s in a slightly different way. For example, a spray-painted coffee filters project is well suited for older students with enough motor skills to physically squeeze a bottle full of watercolors. But younger students can still participate by using a paintbrush to achieve a similar effect.

4. Follow their lead

Students may enjoy some projects more than the other, but encourage them to try them all. You can also provide options that best suit students’ personalities. For instance, one student may prefer painting over coloring with markers. There may also be times when a student decides not to participate, and don’t force them. But they will have a hard time not joining once you start the project.

5. Don’t sweat the mess

It’s helpful to keep a laid-back attitude toward art and mess (which doesn’t always work). Find a project that is creative and fits your comfort level. It’s not going to be fun for anyone if you have to obsessively sweep the floor throughout the whole project.

6. Allocate enough time

Once you have the materials and an idea of what project you and your students would like to do, make sure you think through how much time you’ll need for the project. This keeps you from rushing students to complete their projects.

If possible, set up the art project area, gather the materials, and then spend some time talking to students about what you’re going to do. If a project needs to be done in stages, don’t put out all the materials at once. This way you can control the pace and flow of the project. You can also show examples of a finished project, but try to keep their minds open and not make them feel like they have to create in a certain way.

7. Lead discussions

Sit with students and talk about what they’re doing or wherever else the conversation leads. You can also join in on the fun, but discourage students from imitating what you do or asking you do things for them.

In addition to providing a step-by-step process for making art, Banish Boredom also shares art project ideas that you can do with your students. Try these activities and apply the steps above for a fun and seamless art-making experience.


Big Painting

This activity develops gross and fine motor skills, teaches about restraint (in terms of how much paint to use), and stimulates creative storytelling.


  • Several colors of tempera paint in squeezable bottles
  • A large piece of canvas or sturdy poster board
  • A paint squeegee or scraper, an old credit card, or a sturdy piece of thin cardboard

What to Do:

  1. Set up the canvas or poster board so your students can reach the entire piece.
  2. Provide several colors of paint and let students squeeze it onto the canvas, scraping it around in whatever pattern they like. Encourage them to start with a small amount of paint until they get a sense of how much is too much.
  3. Ask students to make up a story about what they’re painting as they paint it.
  4. Let the painting dry well, and then hang it as abstract art. Give students an opportunity to share the stories behind their art.


  • Use a variety of big brushes (hand broom, sponges, and so on) to paint whatever canvas you’re working on.
  • Get a group together to work collectively on a big painting mural. Do this outdoors and hang up a large piece of paper or a white sheet.


Multimedia Collage

Collage can be one of the best open-ended art projects for students. This activity gives students an opportunity to explore shapes, textures, and three-dimensional art as well as repurpose old art.


What to Do:

  1. Give each student a piece of cardboard, a brush, and make sure the glue and collage materials are within reach.
  2. Let them go, and see what they create!


  • Talk to students about geometric mosaics and have them try making them with collage materials, creating a shape or repeating a color pattern.
  • Have students draw something and then fill it in with collage pieces.
  • Collect items from nature or your pantry (for example, beans or pasta) and let students use them to make organic collages.