Art Lessons for 4 Year Olds

Get painting with your preschooler.
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Don't let the simple looking crayon drawing hanging on your fridge fool you. A 4-year-old is going through some mega developmental steps in her artistic development. If you think back about the scribblings that your toddler made, you'll see how her preschool-aged art is transforming into a world filled with imagination and ability. Art lessons for the 4-year-old set can tackle the task of sparking your little one's creativity while building fine motor and critical thinking skills.

1 Drawing

Drawing is one of the most basic, and least messy, ways to introduce art to your preschooler. While it's tempting to sit your little learner down with a ready-made coloring book, there are more process-based lessons that can help your child build problem-solving skills, use her creativity, and get a grip on drawing. By the age of three, most kids can make almost-realistic looking drawings such as people. While your child's person portrait may look more like a giant-headed circle with stick arms and legs (minus the body), this step in drawing development is a benchmark in your child's cognitive and motor development. Give your preschooler an array of different drawing tools such as crayons, pencils and markers along with different textures of paper to make a basic drawing lesson an artsy adventure.

2 Collage

If you are looking for a way to get your preschooler to pick up those kids' safety scissors and put them to use (other than cutting off her little sister's braids), try a collage lesson. Give your preschooler a few kid-friendly magazines, have her cut out her favorite pics and glue them on a solid base such as poster board or cardboard. Add in a themed lesson and have her look for specific types of pictures to use. For example, ask your child to cut out pictures of farm animals for a mini-biology activity.

3 Painting

Don't fear the mess that the words "preschooler" and "paint" bring to mind when you combine them. Pick the safest place in the house (such as your kitchen's easily cleanable floor or the back patio), line your work space with newspapers or a tarp, and get ready to get creative. Give your 4-year-old a piece of paper (or three or four), a palette of tempera paints and a brush. Let your child choose what she wants to paint. Add an extra lesson on color mixing and only give her paints in the primary colors (red, blue and yellow) and wait to see what shades and hues she can make on her own.

4 Sculpture

Get your 4-year-old to think in three dimensions. Give your preschooler a ball of modeling clay and ask her to make 3-D shapes such as spheres or cylinders. Have her put her shapes together by blending the edges and turn them into either an abstract masterpiece or a realistic sculpture. If you and your child are feeling adventurous, try a mega-construction by gluing and taping used boxes, soda bottles and other odds and ends together. For an artistic experience that packs a real creative punch, break out the paper mache paste (or make your own by mixing flour, water and school glue), cover a base such as balloon or a box, and make a super sculpture.

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.