Fun Performing & Visual Arts Activities for Kids

A young student fingerpainting.
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Activities in both visual and performing arts give students the opportunity to develop skills in basic techniques and learn vocabulary and principles of individual art forms. Practice in the arts also allows students to develop their abilities to communicate with their peers and express emotions and ideas. Additionally, studying the arts can be done in conjunction with math, history and language arts lessons.

1 Music

Teacher and students making music.
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Simple activities for young kids include sing-alongs and the use of homemade instruments to keep rhythm with traditional songs. As they get older, elementary-age kids can create their own music given a poem or dance as inspiration. Projects include creating instruments to match each type of musical sound. Students in the middle grades can be introduced to sheet music and reading musical notes. Older students can improvise or arrange music from a variety of cultures in conjunction with the study of geography or world history. Projects include creating group presentations of compositions or performing in an assembly.

2 Dance

Teenagers dancing.
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As another performing art, dance gives young students the opportunity to interpret what they learn and create their own dance routines and movements. To begin, young students can be taught to imitate simple dance patterns from a variety of dance genres. Additionally, a game like Simon Says can help younger students to practice basic motor skills like running, galloping and sliding. The game can be furthered in the next grades to include more complex movements, including performing actions in a sequence. Older students can study dance to understand cultural influences on the art over the course of history. Middle and high school students also can begin to learn basic elements of anatomy and the biology of movement through the study of dance.

3 Theater

A school play.
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Children as young as kindergarten can play games including freezing in musical chairs or holding statue poses. Students mirror each other or the teacher or perform pantomimes to tell a story. Older elementary students can imitate the voices of a variety of characters or create fictitious situations to present to the class. Theater projects for older students include comparing stage productions to literature in an English class or learning basic audiovisual practices in developing a stage performance. Participation in the presentation of a theatrical performance teaches students a variety of skills including creating rehearsal schedules, developing set and costume design, and directing and blocking stage movements.

4 Visual Arts

Young girl painting.
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To develop understanding and use of visual arts, young students can illustrate their personal experiences. Students also can use manipulatives and clay to create patterns and play with three-dimensional art forms. Activities for kids as young as preschool age include drawing or painting self-portraits or portraits of another person or coloring images provided by the teacher. As elementary students get older, they can create projects focusing on more detail in replicating faces. Middle and high school students can compare different types of art forms, curate shows for their classmates, or develop analyses of visual artists and their representations of the cultures around them.

Based in Los Angeles, Jana Sosnowski holds Master of Science in educational psychology and instructional technology, She has spent the past 11 years in education, primarily in the secondary classroom teaching English and journalism. Sosnowski has also worked as a curriculum writer for a math remediation program. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism from the University of Southern California.