Any invitation to create yields wonderful benefits for children! Self-expression, fine motor skills, and creative thinking are all brought to the table every time. Art can even be therapeutic! But there’s something special that happens when you work on a bigger scale. With big art projects, larger motor movements are often encouraged, strengthening both the small muscles in the hand, used in most art projects, but also inviting the larger muscle groups in the arms, and sometimes even the whole body! With a larger project and bigger movements, kids who typically steer clear of the art table are often more easily enticed. Big art projects also add a social and linguistic element as kids often work together to fill up such a big canvas. And with such big projects and big movements, outdoors is often an ideal studio — perfect for this time of year!
On a Roll
You can start doing big art with just a big roll of art paper. You can find paper rolls for easels at IKEA or on Amazon here (*affiliate), but one of my favorite sources is the local newspaper! I’ve been able to purchase HUGE remnant rolls of newsprint for just a few dollars. For keepsake projects, go with quality paper rolls, but for day to day process art, newsprint is an awesome bargain!
Here are a few projects to do with one big roll of paper:
Make a drawing table like Hands on as We Grow. This may be one of the simplest activities you could set up, but you get a big bang from your simple efforts! It’s hard to ignore such a big invitation to create. Switch things up and work different arm muscles by flipping your activity, putting the paper on the underside of the table and having kids lay on pillows beneath as they color and draw Michelangelo-style!
If you’re feeling more ambitious, cover your table over a drop cloth and set out paints and texture tools to encourage kids to fill up the whole table top with Eric Carle-inspired texture paint. Then, just like Eric Carle, you can use the paper to create awesome paper collage pictures and murals like the ones I share in one of my favorite old posts.
You can also create a big cooperative mural by tracing a design and inviting your whole group to fill it up with paint, markers, or crayons like the cooperative dinosaur mural I created with a preschool class here.
Don’t want to use your table top? Roll out big sheets on the floor or outside and invite kids to create their own self-portraits like these from The Artful Parent. I love the mixed media approach used in these examples!
If you’re looking for a new surface for your next big art project, consider using foil like these samples from Picklebums. You could roll out huge sheets, to create some really big art!
Go REALLY big for some group painting with a similar surface you could use over and over again with this idea from Meri Cherry. (I would never have thought of this!)
Twodaloo also used a unique surface that’s not only reusable, but reusable in different ways each time. In this genius post, she shares how to create a 3-D rainbow for big, see-through, arched painting. It’s fun and see-through, but it also challenges spatial reasoning and works those hand and arm muscles in a variety of ways in one sitting!
Going big can still mean going simple, by using leftover cardboard to create large canvases for kids to take outside and create, like this example from Mama Smiles.
Of course, you don’t have to break the boxes down to make canvases. You could also follow this lead from Lessons Learnt Journal and just plop your little artist right inside the box for 360 degrees of creativity!
Depending on your comfort level, your next big art project could be as simple as a handful of dry erase markers and your nearest mirror, big window, or sliding glass door! (Find washable dry erase markers here. *affiliate) This example from TinkerLab has always been one of my favorites! One of those, of-course-why-didn’t-I-see-this-before kind of moments!
Art in Motion
Big art projects open up the opportunity for really big movements — and often, really unique movements! Often, these motion-driven projects will call to kids who may not be interested in smaller, sitting-still types of art. They also give kids some physics experience with incredible concepts of motion in action!
Picklebums gets creative with a bouncy approach to texture art. Want to go even bigger? You could expand on this idea and use large muscle groups, by swapping out for a hop ball like this (*affiliate).
Pendulum painting is hard for any kid to resist, and Teach Preschool shares all the details to set it up here. (You’ll definitely want to take this outside!)
What’s your favorite way to go big with art?
Want more big art ideas? My friend Jamie and Hands on as We Grow has a HUGE collection of BIG art here.
Do art and sensory play make you nervous? Read this post to find out how to let kids get messy while keeping your own sanity! The Secrets of the Fearless Mess-Makers, on Not Just Cute.