If your children are more creatively-inclined, it can be hard to come up with new activities that will keep them interested. Whether your child is a budding artist, or loves building their very own weird and wonderful creations, we've come up with a list of fabulous projects and games that will unleash their inner designer! These ideas focus on graphic design for kids of all ages and are a great way to help them get to grips with new creative skills.
1. Design Your Own T-Shirts
Suitable for ages: 3+
This fun and easy craft activity will not only jazz up any plain t-shirts you have lying around, but will also encourage your child to consider design concepts such as placement, scale and colour.
You will need:
A plain t-shirt
Fabric paint/ Fabric markers
1. Lay out your plain t-shirt on a flat surface.
2. Insert a few pages of newspaper or some cardboard inside the shirt, to protect the paints from seeping through the fabric.
3. If you like, draw out a simple t-shirt outline on paper, and get the children to work out how they would like their design to look.
4. You're ready to start! Encourage the kids to use tape and paper to block off the areas of their shirts that they want to keep plain. Try applying the tape in various patterns then peeling off to make cool geometric shapes.
5. Use pens and paint (and whatever other craft materials you might like to use!), to see what kind of design you can create.
6. Flip over the shirt and decorate the other side (making sure to keep the paper/card inside!).
7. Wait for the shirts to dry for a couple of hours (some fabric pens require the shirt to be ironed afterwards so you might want to double-check this).
8. Once the shirts are dry, the kids can wear their very own designs!
2. Get Digital!
Suitable for ages: 3+
There are stacks of great graphic design apps out there that encourage kids to be creative and make work. Here is a list of some of our favourite design apps:
- Tux Paint is a free painting app that is aimed at children from ages 3-12. Tux is specially designed to be accessible for kids, and to help them learn to use computer-based design software. Available on Mac and PC, this app is a great starting point for any little designer.
- Once your kids are getting a little more interested in graphic design, Pixlr is a great intermediate step before learning Photoshop. We recommend this app for older children who are starting to be familiar with computers and want to develop their skills.
- If you have an iPad, Procreate is a fantastic way to develop design and drawing skills. Laid out just like a sketchbook, kids will have the best time creating their own drawings, paintings, and even GIFs!
3.Creature Design Game
Suitable for ages: 5+
This simple game will help kids use their imagination to design a variety of weird and wacky creatures. This is a great way to introduce your child to the world of illustration and character design. All you need is 2+ players and drawing equipment!
You will need:
A piece of paper
1. Each player begins with a pen and piece of paper in front of them.
2. Then, each player draws a head and shoulders of their mystical creature, without showing it to anyone else or saying what it is.
3. The player folds down the paper where the shoulders end, leaving the rest of the paper blank (it may be easier to divide the piece of paper into 3 or 4 sections beforehand if you prefer).
4. Every player passes their piece of paper to the left.
5. On their new piece of paper, everyone draws the chest and arms of their creature.
6. Repeat step 4, and now everyone can draw legs.
7. Repeat once more for the feet of the creature.
8. Now, the kids can unfold their paper to reveal the fabulous creatures they have created!
4. Painting With Colours
Suitable for: All ages
This activity, while not directly linked to design, will help kids to understand the basics of colour theory and how different colours interact with each other. This is a key tool that all graphic designers and artists need to know how to use, and can be learned from a very early age!
You will need:
A 'palette' for mixing (a plastic ice cream tub lid or scrap piece of cardboard will work just fine).
1. Lay out a piece of paper, pot of water and brush for each child.
2. On the 'palette', pour out a small amount of each primary colour (red, blue and yellow).
3. Encourage the kids to mix the following colours to make 'secondary colours':
- Red+blue= purple
- Blue+yellow= green
4. From this, allow the kids to experiment as to how the colours work- adding more yellow to green will make a more yellow-y green, etc.
5. Get painting! After they've had time to see how each colour is made, the kids are well-equipped to create their own imaginative pictures, illustrations and designs!
5. Book Character Design Challenge
Suitable for: Ages 4+
This activity encourages kids to design illustrations based on descriptions of their favourite book characters!
You will need:
Pens/ pencils/ crayons
Method: Simply pick a passage from your child's favourite book (or perhaps a book they've never read before!) that describes a character (this works best if the book doesn't have illustrations that the children have seen). Then, read out the passage and challenge the kids to design their own interpretation of what they think the characters look like, based on the book's description. Remind them that there is not a 'correct' way for the character to look, and they can include whatever elements they see fit. This game is not only a great way to encourage design for kids, but it is also lots of fun for adults to play too! If you're stuck, here are some suggestions of interesting characters from children's books:
- Mr and Mrs Twit from 'The Twits' by Roald Dahl
- The Caterpillar from 'Alice in Wonderland' by Lewis Carroll
- The Old Lady from 'The Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly' by Rose Bonne
- The Mad Hatter from 'Alice in Wonderland' by Lewis Carroll
- Hagrid from 'Harry Potter
Top Tip: Expand this activity further by asking your child to design environments, places, and creatures!
6. Design Your Own Logo Challenge
Suitable for: Ages 5+
Now that the kids are well-versed in design, why not challenge them to make their very own designer's logo?
You will need:
Pens/ pencils/ crayons
1. Explain what a logo is, and how it represents a company, business or individual so that everyone can recognise it. You might want to show your children some examples of famous logos they might know from companies around the world, such as Apple, McDonald's, Pepsi, Penguin, etc.
2. Brainstorm some ideas of what your kids love to design or make. Does your child love to create scary monsters, or are they the best at dreaming up creative characters? Help them to sketch out some ideas of how they can incorporate this into their logo.
3. Allow your child to develop their ideas and come up with their very own logo design.
Top Tip: Cut out the finished logo and attach a safety pin to the back with tape to make wearable logo badges!
7. Learn The Software
Suitable for ages: 8+
If your kids are really showing an interest in design, or are simply looking for some more fun games to play online, there are many resources available that combine graphic design content with fun games. Some examples are:
1. The Bezier Method. This addictive game is perfect for getting to grip with the pen tool, that is frequently used for vector programmes such as Adobe Illustrator. Parents will love having a go on this too!
2. Shape Type is another game that is a great example of graphic design for kids. The aim is to adjust the letters to the correct shape- the perfect game for anyone with an interest in typography.
3. I Shot The Serif aids understanding of different types of typographic fonts, and is also lots of fun.
4. Adobe itself also has some fantastic resources to help kids learn the basics of programmes such as Photoshop.
At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.
We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.
Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.
Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.
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