“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” -Pablo Picasso

Even though he shared this quote over 40 years ago, Picasso’s words remain true today. Children are naturally creative. They can cook up new and imaginative ideas on a whim and express themselves and their ideas with ease.

But there’s been a steady decline in America’s creativity over the last 10 years, which education psychologist KH Kim has coined the “creative crisis.” Due to technology and new learning standards, creativity is stifled and youth today have fewer opportunities to stretch their creative muscles.

Yet numerous studies show creativity is an essential skill in school, work and life. Creativity breeds originality and innovation, which spurs economic growth and social change. It was also listed as the most important leadership quality by more than 1,500 CEOs in a recent IBM study.

So how can we keep kids creative in order to foster the next generation of innovators and changemakers?

Art is a simple and proven way to spark creativity in students. Incorporating the arts not only helps to foster creativity, but it also encourages innovation, problem solving and creative thinking. With a few art supplies and eager hands, students can have fun creating masterpieces while honing their creative skills.

Sparking Creativity with Bleeding Art Tissue Paper Painting

Despite its name, bleeding art tissue paper creates some of the most beautiful art and is sure to be a crowd favorite in your afterschool program. Part of the fun is students get to make a total mess before the painting even starts (by ripping up large sheets of tissue paper into smaller shapes). There is also an element of surprise because you’re not entirely sure how the painting is going to turn out until it dries.

Try this fun art activity to spark creativity in your students!

Materials:

Instructions:

  1. Start by having students rip or cut the large tissue paper into smaller pieces. If you’re going for a cleaner look, let them cut the paper into shapes.
  2. Have them separate the pieces into piles by color.
  3. Brush a little water onto the watercolor paper, place a piece of tissue paper on it and paint over it with more water. The wetter the tissue gets, the more the colors will bleed and mix into each other. Resist removing the tissue paper right away.
  4. When students are happy with the shapes they’ve made, let the painting dry. Then, have them pull away the tissue paper pieces to reveal the painting made underneath! (Tip: Save those pieces of tissue paper - you can reuse them.)
  5. Hang the painting as is, cut it into pieces and attach it to a string to make a pretty garland or cover it with contact paper to make a unique place mat.

For variations of this activity and to find similar activities, check out Banish Boredom: Activities to Do with Kids That You’ll Actually Enjoy.