Planning Creative Art Activities for Multi-age Groups

Child's hands painting a ball of paper

Many child care providers work with mixed-age groups that include children of many different ages. Planning your child care curriculum to include creative art activities that are appropriate (and safe) for infants through school-agers can be challenging. Here are some tips for child care providers to choose creative art activities for multi-age groups.

  • Choose materials that appeal to different ages. Activities such as painting, drawing, and working with play dough are art activities that children of all ages can enjoy. Try using materials such as safe, non-toxic play dough; finger paint and large pieces of paper; large crayons and large sheets of paper; soap bubbles; chalk on different kinds of paper; and markers on aluminum foil.
  • Encourage age-appropriate exploration. Children of different ages may enjoy using certain art materials in very different ways. Infants and young toddlers may simply scribble with a crayon on a large sheet of paper. Preschoolers may use that same crayon and paper to practice drawing shapes or draw simple objects. Older children may create an elaborate picture.
  • Choose materials that are safe for all ages. Young children are likely to put things in their mouths, so make sure all art materials are non-toxic and safe for different ages.
  • Supervise well. Remember that young children are not good at sharing materials. The child care provider may need to sit at the table with children to ensure that the activity is well-supervised.
  • Create time or space for “big kid” art. Preschoolers and school-age children need changes to work with more complex materials that are not appropriate for infants and toddlers. Set aside a special area for older children to create art, or plan art activities for older children while younger ones are eating or napping.

For More Information

To learn more about children’s art, check out our other articles on Art in Child Care, or visit our Early Learning and School Readiness section for more information on early learning. For specific art activity ideas to use in your child care program, check out the Hands-on Activities Database.