4 Early Childhood Activities to Build Basic Skills

We all know teaching kindergarten is no easy feat. But what about teaching students even younger than that? If you have the unique challenge of working with three and four-year-olds, you know their skills are all over the place.

Some students come to the art room fully equipped with a basic skill set. Others? They may not know how to hold a pair of scissors.

AOE Writer, Lee Ten Hoeve, has lots of experience with this age level. She’s put together four activities to help your students practice basic art skills. Use these activities as skill builders with your students. In no time, they’ll have a plethora of techniques under their belts to apply toward their creative endeavors in your classroom!

4 Early Childhood Activities to Build Basic Skills

1. Josef Albers Hide and Seek

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This activity is perfect for helping students explore shape and color. Students will learn what a square is and work with the concept of “larger and smaller.” Students will also practice identifying colors and discuss where they fit on a color wheel.

In addition, this activity allows for lots of physical movement while engaging new learners in important artistic practices. Students will look carefully, compare and contrast, and work together with their classmates.

Finally, this activity brings in a bit of art history by using Homage to the Square by artist Josef Albers.


2. Crayon Resist Seascape

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This activity is a great way to introduce watercolor paints and the idea of a resist to your preschoolers. By creating different sections, students are forced to hone their fine motor skills to apply the color. Plus, this activity introduces many other art ideas including Pointillism, tints and shades, repetition, and the difference between a landscape and a seascape.


3. The Very Hungry Preschooler

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Eric Carle is a favorite among preschool students and serves as the inspiration for this activity. Students will get to explore two basic printmaking techniques. First, students will practice stamping as they create a caterpillar.

caterpillar

Then, they will explore a simple mono-printing technique to create a beautiful butterfly. Using student photos in both parts of the project will allow students to see themselves as the main character undergoing a magical transformation.


4. Big Brave Shark Hat

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This activity is perfect to use on the first day of art or anytime your preschoolers need a confidence boost! First students listen to the book I’m a Shark by Bob Shea and discuss fears and how to overcome them. Then, they turn themselves into big brave sharks using collage techniques! Your students will love wearing their creations and will get some great cutting and gluing practice in, too.


Preschool artists are wildly creative and should be allowed to explore freely in the art room. However, there are times when you need to pull out a great skill builder, so give one of these a try!

Tell us, how do you help preschoolers build skills in your art room? 

What types of activities do you find the most engaging?

Amanda Heyn

Amanda is the Senior Editor at AOE. She has a background in teaching elementary art and enjoys working to bring the best ideas from the world of art ed to the magazine each day. 

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