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DIY Canvas Art Projects for Kids

Updated on January 20, 2015
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Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

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Canvases are an inexpensive, versatile, and readily available material that are perfect for kid art projects including painting and much more. Whether you are a stay at home mom looking for rainy day activities for toddlers and preschoolers or you are an art teacher looking for ideas that appeal to middle school students, there is something here that fits the bill. Happy crafting!

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Initials

Typically initial art is promoted as something that adults can make to decorate their homes, but there is no reason that kids can't make many of these projects as well. You can let a kid decorate a canvas as he or she chooses and then finish it with a wood or foam letter or you can create a letter. Popular materials for making letters include buttons, pom poms, sequins, and crayons, but don't feel limited to these options.

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Melted Crayons

The only supplies that you need to make melted crayon wall art are a canvas, glue, crayons, and a hair dryer or other heat source. While this is not an ideal project for little kids, it is perfect for older elementary and middle school age children. There are endless possibilities for color combinations and designs. I've included just a couple tutorial links here so that you can familiarize yourself with the basic concept. Search Pinterest or Google for further inspiration.

There are so many creative possibilities for these hand prints.
There are so many creative possibilities for these hand prints. | Source

Hand Print / Footprint Ideas

Kids can use their hands and feet to make prints on canvas and then turn them into any number of different objects or animals. Family trees, Christmas trees, and of course turkeys are popular options. The post below from The Frugal Girls has ideas for butterflies, elephants, bees, fish, horses, and cows. You can also find inspiration online for peacocks, caterpillars, monkeys, and much more as well as how to use lots of prints to make shapes (i.e. hearts).

Mont Marte Joe's Hand Print Christmas Tree Lesson

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Adhesive Letters for Phrases / Sayings

You can use adhesive letters to spell out the words, phrases, or sentences of your choosing. Simply apply the letters, paint over them, and then peel the letters off when the paint is dry. You'll be left with white letters that contrast beautifully with the painted design. Of course you can also keep it really easy and apply letters over a finished design as well.


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Abstract Art

There are numerous possibilities for abstract canvas art, but here are just a few to get you started.

  • Apply paint with an eyedropper Jackson Pollock style. Grab a few eyedroppers and let kids go to town filling their canvases with tiny spots of different colors. It will keep them busy for quite a while and produce a beautiful effect. Read more about it Better Homes and Gardens.
  • Squeeze paint blobs on canvas, and then smear them. I couldn't find an original source for this concept, but the idea is fairly self-explanatory and easy for kids to do independently.
  • Create a multiple layers effect with painters tape. Rip strips of painters tape and apply them at random over the canvas. After the paint has dried, remove the tape. Kids can repeat this process as many times as they like to create a desired effect. Check out the full tutorial at Artchoo!.

Crafts for Kids : Easy Abstract Art

Kids can make neat or messy concentric circles or some of each.
Kids can make neat or messy concentric circles or some of each. | Source

Concentric Circles

Kacey of Stay at Home Artist has a neat concentric circles canvas art tutorial that stems from Russian abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky. Her tutorial is very colorful and very ordered. Most young kids are not going to have the patience to paint these type of concentric circles, which is fine. You can modify it as needed, which of course, includes switching up the colors as well as the instructions.

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Batik Effect

Gel glue is the perfect medium for creating a batik effect with paints on canvas or watercolor paper. Some people also opt to sprinkle salt on the paint before it dries. The salt soaks up some of the paint pigments, adding another dimension to the finished work. You can find many examples of this technique online. I've linked what appear to be the original resources for it below.

Batik Workshop • Fun with Paper and Fabric

You can make paper butterflies out of scrapbook paper, music paper, book pages, and much more.
You can make paper butterflies out of scrapbook paper, music paper, book pages, and much more. | Source

Multicolored Butterflies

Many kids will spend many happy hours punching and gluing paper butterflies on canvas. A butterfly punch makes the project easy, but of course you can trace and cut butterflies as well. Think about using different materials for the butterflies such as scrapbook paper, sheet music, and book pages. Children can also paint the paper of their choosing and then punch their butterflies from it.

© 2014 Rose Clearfield

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    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, Journey! That's great. :)

    • Journey * profile image

      Nyesha Pagnou MPH 4 years ago from USA

      This is really nice! I'll be pinning it to my kids board on Pinterest. Thank you and rated up.

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Absolutely, RTalloni!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Giving kids a creative outlet with these ideas would be a terrific way to spend some summer hours!

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      That's great, prestonandkate! I appreciate it. :)

      That's awesome, pstraubie. :) I hope that your daughter finds some new inspiration here.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      My daughter does many creative activities with her baby son...she has done some of these but you have some ideas I know she will like.

      I am sharing this with her.

      Angels are on the way to you. ps

    • prestonandkate profile image

      Preston and Kate 4 years ago from the Midwest

      LOVE some of these ideas! I'm pinning them for later use with our little guy. You have so much creativity!

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      prul3agony, I think that the melted crayon projects are pretty straight forward, but I would imagine that the melting process goes more slowly than you would think.

      Eiddwen, have fun with your grandchildren on Sunday!

      FlourishAnyway, little artists in residence, I love that. :)

      Shasta, I'm the same way with canvas. There are so many possibilities for it beyond painting. You're right that all of these ideas are appropriate for adults as well.

      Glimmer Twin Fan, that's neat. :) Pre-stretched canvases are so affordable these days that there is no excuse for not letting kids use them on a regular basis.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 4 years ago

      How fun! My daughter loves painting and once said that drawing on a canvas made her feel more like a real artist. These are some fantastic projects!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 4 years ago from USA

      I used to think that canvas was only for painting, but have learned to expand my thinking to other forms of art. You've provided lots of great ideas for children and adults to use canvas for arts and crafts. Voted up and pinned!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      This is chock full of great ideas for creating wonderful memories with little artists in residence. I especially like the melted crayon idea. Voted up and awesome and pinning!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      What a great hub and one which I shall be using when my grandchildren come over on Saturday. Voted up and please keep them coming. Saving for easy reference too.

      Eddy.

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 4 years ago from USA

      These are some great ideas for art projects. I've seen that melted crayon project all over Pinterest - for some reason, I doubt it's as easy as it looks :) but I love the idea! Thanks for sharing these creative projects!

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, lady rain! There are so many possibilities for the batik effect.

    • lady rain profile image

      lady rain 4 years ago from Australia

      These are great projects for school and kinder classes. The batik effect looks very interesting, won't mind trying it out for my own projects!

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