Classroom Tips

Teaching art to children | Art lesson plans & lessons for kids

There is a lot of work that goes into starting a children’s activity or education business. You need to prepare a business plan, create a budget, and set business goals for success. Then, once you have the administrative tasks settled, you need to actually think about teaching!

Teaching is an incredibly rewarding and exciting way to help children learn, grow, and develop. If your passion is art, then teaching art to children can help you share your interests and expertise with the next generation. In order to be an effective and confident teacher, you need to learn how to create lesson plans and organize your classes so the children have fun and learn. 

In this article, we will go over the main elements for teaching art to children, including how to create art lesson plans for kids, and we will provide you with some inspiration for virtual and in-person art lessons for kids. And if you want to learn how to write a curriculum, check out our guide!

Teaching art to children

How to teach art to children

There is, of course, no right way to teach art to children. However, we have some top tips to help make your experience of teaching art more fun, effective, and exciting for both you and the little ones in your class or activity.

Make mistakes part of the art

Children of all ages can get hung up on mistakes, which often eats away at the actual time spent creating art. One of the best parts of art is that “mistakes” don’t exist! Instead, from the very beginning of your class, let the children know that everything they do on the paper is part of the process. Model it yourself - if you are showing them an example, make a “mistake” and then show them how you turn it into part of the piece.

Go big

If you are working with young children, have them focus on markers, paints, and oil pastels. These materials cover more surface area as opposed to drawing with pencil, and prompt kids to go with the flow and spend less time worrying about drawing perfectly. Plus, no eraser means no second guessing! Art is about how you feel; it should be done with the confidence to try new things and the freedom to push boundaries.

Choose projects children will love

Since you are likely teaching art as an extracurricular and are not beholden to a school curriculum, you have the exciting opportunity to focus your projects on subjects and topics that children will be interested in. This is their extra art time and they want to create something they will love. Depending on the age of your students, you can even ask them at the beginning of the semester what they’d like to create and incorporate this into your lesson plans. If you teach drop-in or one-off classes, give time for free creation in the last 10-15 minutes of class.

Offer variety in the classroom

Children might surprise you with the level of their creativity! Often, it seems like their brains just work differently than adults. Therefore, you should offer a variety of supplies in your classroom, including old newspapers and magazines, yarn, buttons, string, and other interesting materials. When you explain a project, let the children know that all the supplies in the room are fair game. They will love the opportunity to flex their creative muscles.

Be patient and have fun with it

You will have children tell you that they are just not good at art, that they don’t think they can do it, or that they just don’t want to. That’s ok! Be patient with those children and help them fight against their creative blocks and encourage their confidence. More than anything, children will have fun if you have fun, so show them how much you love art and they will fall in love with it too.

Photo of teaching art to children

Art lesson plans for kids

Creating lesson plans for your classes is paramount to confident teaching and successful learning. Lesson plans help keep you on track, manage time effectively, and focus on what matters. Proper lesson planning ensures that your students will learn what they need to in the allotted amount of time, and allows you to document their progress week over week. Here is a format that you can use when you write your art lessons plans for kids.

Lesson objective(s)

What is the goal of this class? Will students learn about a new style of art, practice a new medium, create a project to take home, or something else? Make your objective action-oriented so you can easily measure if you’ve achieved it.

Materials needed

What will you need for this class? How much of each item will you need? Use this section of your lesson plan as a list and then check off each item when you have it. Not sure where to buy supplies? Check out our guide.

Lesson activities & timing

What will you actually do with the students during each session? In this section, break down your class time into smaller activities that will help your students accomplish the lesson objectives. Make sure your activities are interactive, engaging, interesting, and doable based on your students’ ages and progress. Playing games can enhance classroom learning and Montissori teaching can help students discover their own interests and get excited about the topic. Consider incorporating these techniques into your activities.

Next to each activity, estimate the time it will take to complete. Always give yourself a little buffer time at the beginning of class, between activities, and at the end. Prioritize your activities so the most important take up the most amount of time and add a flex activity that can be done or skipped based on how accurate your time estimates were.

Assessment

Since you are likely not teaching in a school, you probably want to avoid tests or quizzes. However, you should include some way to assess the success of the lesson for your own records and in case parents ask for more information. You can do cumulative group projects or presentations, personal reviews of students’ work, student reviews of the class, or a similar type of assessment.

Evaluation

Use this space to take some notes during and after the class to reflect on what went well and what could have been improved. This will help you as you write your next lesson plans and plan your classes moving forward.

For more information on how to write a lesson plan, including lesson plan examples, read our guide.

Photo of art lesson plans

Art lessons for kids

Now that you know the format for creating an art lesson plan, you need to think about what art concepts you will actually teach. Here are some of our favorite art lessons for kids, many of which are being taught right now by Sawyer educators!

  1. Celebrate the seasons with mixed media art. Let children use markers, paint, yarn, glitter, newspaper, and natural elements to create seasonal scenes (like winter wonderlands or beautiful fall foliage settings) or holiday themed pieces. This is a great activity for a one-off or drop-in class because it can be completed in one session.
  2. Recreate famous artists’ work. Show children artwork from famous artists and then have them create their own versions. Some fun to replicate examples are works by Jackson Pollock, Monet, Frida Kahlo, and Yayoi Kusama. This is a great art lesson for a weekly class so that they can explore multiple types of art and learn about different artists. Plus, the students get to learn a bit about art history and different styles of art!
  3. Illustrate stories. Combine art and storytelling by having children create illustrations along with a story they hear or even write (depending on their age). This is a great way to show students that art doesn’t have to be abstract. You can do this as a one-off class or over a few classes, depending on the length of the story.
  4. Combine science and art. Create an art lesson that features science by making fossils out of clay, potato prints, or detailing the inner workings of a flower. Interdisciplinary classes like this are great for students who might have more of an interest in other subjects beyond art. This can be done as a series or a one-off class.
  5. Let imagination run wild. If you are running a semester of art classes, children will likely finish their projects at different times. It is perfectly fine to have a class where children are free to create whatever they want. If you do a class like this, though, make sure you come prepared with lots of examples of different types of projects so children feel supported.

Virtual art lessons

All of our art lesson ideas for kids can work in-person or virtually. However, it is important to note that if you are teaching virtual art lessons, you need to be aware that supplies can be different for each student. Some educators on Sawyer send the materials needed for virtual classes to the participants, but that can prove to be expensive and logistically difficult. 

Instead, we recommend creating virtual art lessons that can be done with any type of materials. The process and creativity should be what matters most. If you do need to require certain materials, make sure parents are aware and have plenty of time to get them in advance of the class. You should also include a backup option in case a student does not have the material in time for the class. Finally, modeling is extremely important when children are learning art online because they are not often as able to ask questions or see what others are doing. 

We recommend using two cameras, one focused on you and the other focused on the art. This will allow your students to have a clear, detailed view as you show them examples. Also, make time for sharing and presenting, so students can show their peers what they’re working on. For more guidance on virtual learning, check out our article.

Photo of art lessons for kids


Teaching art to children is a rewarding experience. After reading this article, you should feel more comfortable preparing art lesson plans and art lessons for kids of all ages. If you are looking for guidance on managing and running your children’s education and activity business, the team at Sawyer is here to help. We work with businesses every day to save time on admin and spend more time in the classroom. See how it works with a free trial or demo today.

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