Why and how parents should encourage artistic development in their children.

Updated: Jan 31, 2019

And ... an comprehensive list of resources for little ones.

Young children have a much greater learning ability than in their teenage years because their curiosity is constantly awakened. This is the perfect time to introduce them to art in all of its forms. It is important to do so in the early stages of their life. This way, your little love ones will keep their love for art growing and they will expand their horizons once they become a teenager and a young adult.

Passing on the pleasure to look at a painting takes time so make this artistic initiation a moment of exchange and play. Learning is about sharing. In addition, opportunities to talk about art with your child are not missing. You will find very easily, museums, exhibitions, and also just strolling through the gardens or the streets, you will notice that art is everywhere and accessible to everyone!

The best way to interest your child is to discover #art with them, to guide them in their exploration. Approaching, observing the details. Circling around the artwork seems to be an effective way to immerse a child into the #artistic world.

How to interest your child?

The important thing is to familiarize the child with the artworks in a fun way. Children need to touch, color, observe to immerse themselves. It is their artistic awakening. To be interested in a work of art can sometimes seems complex. I suggest you to bring paper and colored pencils to your artistic excursions. Your children can then take time to draw the artworks as they see it with their own eyes and vision.

In front of the artwork it is important to communicate with your little one "What do you see" "What do you like?" "What do you understand?"

Art doesn't necessarily mean museums.

This artistic initiation must first of all be fun for your child, but also for you as a parent. Therefore, it is not imperative to go to a museum to introduce your child to art. It is entirely possible to organize small playful games at home or to use children's books dedicated to learning more about art. There is also mobile or tablet applications and websites.

List of resources for burgeoning artistic children.

Some of the best museums for children:

In The United States:

  • Children's Museum Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN. The largest children's museum in the world just got even bigger with the addition of a new 7.5-acre outdoor health and fitness area that encourages activity through multiple sports.

  • Please Touch Museum, Philadelphia, PA. The museum focuses on teaching children through interactive exhibits and special events, mostly aimed at children seven years old and younger. An hands-on museum where adults and children can learn and explore together.

  • Boston Children's Museum, Boston, MA. Highlights of this interactive museum include the "Science Playground," featuring giant soap bubble-making tools and the "New Balance Climb," which teaches kids the laws of physics while navigating through a two-story-high maze.

  • Children's Museum of Houston, Houston, TX. Hands-on interactive exhibits in the areas of science and technology, history and culture, health and human development, and the arts.

  • Minnesota Children's Museum, St. Paul, MN. Playful, interactive exhibits for younger kids including a look at state habitats and a rooftop park. Major exhibits rotate out periodically to keep it fresh.

  • The Strong, Rochester, NY. It is a highly interactive, collections-based museum devoted to the history and exploration of play. It is one of the largest history museums in the United States and one of the leading museums serving families.

  • Kohl Children's Museum, Chicago, IL. A bright and friendly place for children of all ages, featuring a life-sized train car and a water room. Thoughtfully geared to small children, the grocery store, the cafe, and transportation centers are captivating. The music room introduces many musical concepts.

  • Port Discovery Children's Museum, Baltimore, MD. Kid-powered museum with three floors of exhibits, many designed by Walt Disney Company Engineers. It is 80,000 square feet and offers three floors of exhibits and programs designed to be interactive and hands on, allowing children to learn through play.

  • Liberty Science Center, Jersey City, NJ. Liberty Science Center is an interactive science museum and learning center. The Planetarium, the spectacular documentaries, touch tanks, huge aquariums and the snakes, bugs, and many exhibits are still special at any age.

  • Children's Museum of Denver, Denver, CO. Explore interactive, super fun exhibits that let kids learn and discover on their own terms. An old fire truck, bubble-blowing lab & other interactive exhibits help kids learn by participating.

  • Madison Children's Museum, Madison, WI. The Madison Children's Museum is a museum that contains exhibits on the arts, sciences, history, culture, health, and civic engagement. The museum take play very seriously by engaging, challenging, and inspiring every visitor, both kids and adults, who comes through the doors.

  • Pittsburgh Children's Museum, Pittsburgh, PA. The tinkering space has real tools and materials such as wood, sewing machines, hammers, a loom, animation station and more. Creative energy is in the Art Studio for silk screening, painting, clay and creating alongside working artists who visit.

  • Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL. Sprawling, hands-on museum full of informative, child-friendly scientific and industrial exhibits. MSI is the Western Hemisphere's largest science museum and home to thousands of exhibits, artifacts and "wow" moments.

  • Exploratorium, San Francisco, CA. The Exploratorium is a museum that allows visitors to explore the world through science, art, and human perception. Visitors of all-ages can step inside a tornado, turn upside down in a curved mirror, walk on a fog bridge, and explore more than 650 hands-on exhibits.

  • Discovery Place, Charlotte, NC. Kids' science & tech museum with interactive exhibits, an aquarium, rain forest and IMAX theater. The aquarium area is really interesting

Other parts of the world:

  • Le Musee des Enfants, Brussels, Belgium. Children's museum in an elegant historical building offering interactive, educational exhibits. Alternating play - educational and fun on different floors. Numerous activities to stimulate young minds and take them into a world of imagination.

  • CosmoCaixa, Barcelona, Spain. This museum is designed to stimulate peoples knowledge and opinion of science through exhibitions and a wide variety of activities. It is not about looking, it is more of a hands-on museum with many things to try out in every corner. Different scientific disciplines are being explained didactically and interactively.

  • Junibacken, Stockholm, Sweden. This indoor amusement park is centered around the universe of Swedish children's book author Astrid Lindgren, possibly the most admired Swede of the 20th century. It offers great fun for kids from 2 to 10 and their parents, with a tunnel tour and visit of places depicted in Astrid Lindgren's books - especially Pippi Longstocking.

  • Pavilhão do Conhecimento, Lisbon, Portugal. A few steps from Lisbon’s Oceanarium, the interactive Pavilion of Knowledge offers an innovative model for science learning. It combines exhibits with hands-on activities for kids. Small scientists can have fun experiencing the gravity on the moon, constructing electric circuits, and defying the laws of gravity on a high wire bicycle 6 meters above the ground.

  • Papalote Museo del Nino, Mexico City, Mexico. The museum is focused in learning, communication and working together through interactive expositions of science, technology and art for children. Here kids can put together a radio program, channel their inner mad scientist, join an archaeological dig and try out all kinds of technological gadgets and games.

  • National Museum of Agriculture, Prague, Czech Republic. The Museum presents modern interactive expositions that will enthuse young and old nature lover. Great for technology enthusiasts (Tractor on the move exhibition), stories about game keeping and fishing, experience the forest in extraordinary way (Laboratory of Silence), teaches children to use all senses to recognize food (Gastronomy studio).

  • Muzej Iluzija (Museum of Illusions), Zagreb, Croatia. Welcome to the fascinating world of illusions. Attraction featuring various optical illusion exhibits and a "smart playroom" with games & puzzles. A lot of things to entertain you and make your brain really work. Something to laugh about, something to stimulate your mind and something just to admire.

  • Seoul Children's Museum, Seoul, South Korea. Children will be surprised how time flies while they’ll be exploring all different playgrounds and activity areas. Just to mention a few of them: you can start by exploring nature and forest then pretend being an artist, dancer or veterinarian, you may send a letter to your alien friend, join the street fashion show in a Scottish kilt costume or spend hours pumping water in the best water playground in town.

  • Santral Istanbul Energy Museum, Istanbul, Turkey. This former power plant is now a well maintained energy museum with some interactive exhibits that the kids will love. Besides the turbines, dynamos (some cut open to display their inner workings) and large control room on the upper floor, you can visit the boilers below. Among the boilers you will find some excellent interactive displays demonstrating some very interesting properties of electricity.

  • V&A Museum of Childhood, London, England. The museum houses the Victoria and Albert Museum's collection of childhood-related objects and artifacts, spanning the 1600s to the present day. It is the home to one of the world’s finest collections of children’s toys, doll’s houses, games and costumes.

Share Art with your children through these wonderful books:

  • Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos, by Monica Brown and Illustrated by John Parra. Based on the life of one of the world's most influential painters, Frida Kahlo, and the animals that inspired her art and life.

  • Touch the Art: Brush Mona Lisa's Hair by Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo. The mysterious Mona Lisa could use a little grooming--so go ahead and brush her long black hair! Continue with the Old Masters.

  • When Pigasso Met Mootisse by Nina Laden. What begins as a neighborly overture escalates into a mess. Before you can say paint-by-numbers, the two artists become fierce rivals, calling each other names and ultimately building a fence between them.

  • My Museum, by Joanne Liu. A young boy learns that art is all around us in this captivating picture book about a day at the museum. We all remember what it was like to be a child in a crowded art museum.

  • Linnea in Monet's Garden by Christina Björk and Illustrated by Lena Anderson. A little girl visits the home and garden of Claude Monet at Giverny, France, and learns about the artist's paintings and his life. The illustrations include photographs of the painter and his family as well as examples of his work.

  • Babar's Museum of Art by Laurent de Brunhoff. In this whimsical, wry caper, Celeste and Babar decide to transform the abandoned Celesteville train station into a museum displaying the objets d'art they've collected on their travels.

  • Kid Artists: True Tales of Childhood from Creative Legends by David Stabler and Illustrated by Doogie Horner. Hilarious childhood biographies and full-color illustrations reveal how Leonardo da Vinci, Beatrix Potter, Keith Haring, and other great artists in history coped with regular-kid problems. Every great artist started out as a kid.

  • Mini Masters Serie by Julie Merberg & Suzanne Bober. The perfect art books for kids and toddlers: Mini Masters pair art by a master with simple and rhythmic text that will enchant your child.

  • Georgia’s Bones by Jen Bryant. Growing up on a Wisconsin farm, Georgia O'Keeffe began gathering all sorts of objects sticks and stones, flowers and bones. Although she was teased for her interest in unique shapes and sizes, young Georgia declared: Someday, I am going to be an artist and that is exactly what she became.

  • Art and Max by David Weisner. Max and Arthur are friends who share an interest in painting. Arthur is an accomplished painter; Max is a beginner. Max's first attempt at using a paintbrush sends the two friends on a whirlwind trip through various artistic media, which turn out to have unexpected pitfalls.

  • No One Saw by Bob Raczka. In a title that sends the message that no two people see the world in exactly the same way, simple rhymed text and beautifully reproduced examples of various modern painters' works point out the particular lens through which each of the artists viewed a particular object.

  • Just Behave, Pablo Picasso! by Johan Winter and Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. A celebration of a modern master-and an inspiration to anyone who's ever felt judged! "One day the world is a peaceful, lovely landscape painting. The next day-BLAM! - Pablo bursts through the canvas, paintbrush in hand, ready to paint something fresh and new.

  • Henri’s Scissors, by Jeanette Winter. In a small weaving town in France a young boy named Henri-Emile Matisse drew pictures everywhere, and when he grew up, he moved to Paris and became a famous artist who created paintings that were adored around the world. But late in life a serious illness confined him to a wheelchair, and amazingly, it was from there that he created among his most beloved works - the enormous and breathtaking paper cut-outs.

  • Museum ABC by the Metropolitan Museum Of Art. This unique and colorful picture book uses the alphabet to introduce young children to more than 100 works of art. The visual and cultural richness of this alphabet tour through the Metropolitan's Museum's collection is ideal for both children and adult readers.

  • Museum 123 by The Metropolitan Museum Of Art. In this simple and elegant counting book from the world's most renowned museum, numbers are introduced to children through masterpieces of art. Each number from one to ten has four pages devoted to it. First, readers are invited to search for how many of a certain object they can find in a single piece of art.

  • Can You Find It, Too?: Search and Discover More Than 150 Details in 19 Works of Art by The Metropolitan Museum Of Art. This seek-and-find book invites kids to take a closer look at art. A list of intriguing details hidden within each work sets readers on a journey across cultures and around the world.

  • Art Dog by Thacher Hurd. Someone has stolen the Mona Woofa from the Dogopolis Museum of Art and it's up to Art Dog, the mysterious, masked painter, to find the missing masterpiece.

  • Katie by James Mayhew. The “Katie” titles are introducing the great works of art to children. These books can now be found in museums and galleries all over the world. In 2015, the National Gallery, London, launched an exclusive range of Katie merchandise based on the books, followed in 2017 by a series of art activity books.

  • Celebrity Cat: With Paintings from Art Galleries Around the World by Meredith Hooper and Illustrated by Bee Willey. It is the cats Visiting Night at the Art Gallery and all the city's cats are gathering to look at cat paintings. But where are they? There are paintings of dogs, birds, tigers, even fish -- but hardly a painted cat to be seen!

  • Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infinity! by Sarah Suzuki, Illustrated by Ellen Weinstein. Growing up in the mountains of Japan, Yayoi Kusama dreamed of becoming an artist. One day, she had a vision in which the world and everything in it—the plants, the people, the sky—were covered in polka dots.

  • ABC Pop! by Rachel Isadora. From airplane to zing, zap, zoom, this witty alphabet book explodes with energy, color, and fun. Rachel Isadora combines an amusing homage to such pop art masters as Lichtenstein, Warhol, and Oldenburg, with a sure knowledge of the images children find intriguing.

  • Henri, Egg Artiste by Marcus Pfister. Henri is a true artist who has grown tired of decorating his eggs in the same old way. Readers are led on an exploration of the art world as Henri creates beautiful works in the styles of celebrated painters of the past.

  • Artists and Their Pets: True Stories of Famous Artists and Their Animal Friends by Susie Hodge, Illustrated by Violet Lemay. Did you know that Pablo Picasso had many pets, including a white mouse and a goat? And that Andy Warhol loved his dachshunds, Georgia O'Keeffe had a passion for chows, and Salvador Dali liked ocelots and walked an anteater?

  • Seen Art? by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. This book combines comical text and playful illustrations alongside full-color reproductions of the artwork. Authors/illustrators Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith give readers the perfect companion for a visit to a museum, and an introduction to some of the world's best works of modern art.

  • Museum Trip by Barbara Lehman. Museums are filled with mysterious, magical art and curiosities? Or secrets? And what might happen if a boy suddenly became part of one of the mind-bending exhibits?

  • Oooh! Picasso by Mil Niepold and Jean Yves Verdu. Crisp close-ups of the everyday objects that Pablo Picasso transformed into sculpture offer a fresh look at the artist's work. With each page turn, the reader's imagination unfolds as the moon becomes a guitar and a dolphin becomes a bull.

  • Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing by Kay Haring, Illustrated by Robert Neubecker. Iconic pop artist Keith Haring comes to life for young readers in this picture book biography lovingly written by his sister Kay. This one-of-a-kind book explores the life and art of Keith Haring from his childhood through his meteoric rise to fame.

  • Hugo and Miles In I’ve Painted Everything by Scott Magoon. What happens when a very creative artist runs out of things to paint? Just runs out—as in, he’s painted everything! Hugo, the artist in question, is in an elephant, so he and his friend Miles leave Cornville for a whirlwind trip to Paris.

  • The Great Big Art History Colouring Book by Annabelle Von Sperber. Young readers will find themselves immersed in art history with this large-format coloring book that provides hours of fun with great educational opportunities along the way.

  • Heres Looking at Me: How Artists See Themselves by Bob Raczka. The author delves deeply into the fine art world and introduces readers to famous works in light-earthed ways. This book looks at the self-portraits of 16 artists from all disciplines and times.

  • Action Jackson by Jan Greenberg, Sandra Jordan Illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker. One late spring morning the American artist Jackson Pollock began work on the canvas that would ultimately come to be known as Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist). The authors use this moment as the departure point for a unique picture book about a great painter and the way in which he worked.

Apps and websites to discover art with kids:

  • Scrap Coloring. Free online coloring pages for kids with a rich variety of colorful patterns, gradients, fabrics, papers and textures for hours of fun and creativity.

  • Picasso Head. Create a painting online with Picasso own style using a virtual canvas, You can save it, and email it to a friend. Get inspiration from a gallery of Picasso-like samples already created.

  • Red Ted Art. Fun, easy and "do-able" crafts for kids and grown ups. Using every day materials, making DIY a great activity to do together.

  • Psykopaint. Paint unique pieces of art from photos. Psykopaint is an online painting application which select the colors from an image and apply it to your brush.

  • Mr Printables. It is a wonderful educational site where you can print flashcards, maps, games, coloring pages, masks, posters, party and holiday printables, crafts, toys, and more for free! They have a ton of learning flashcards that are great for homeschooling.

  • A. Pintura : Art Detective. As A. Pintura, a 1940's-style detective with a degree in art history, you must identify the artist of a mystery painting.

  • The Crafty Crow. Thousands of wonderful art and craft ideas to do with kids that are fun, easy, and enjoyable for grown-ups too! You'll find crafts, art, activities, games and treats.

  • Bomomo. Another cool art generator that runs in your browser. Select one of the dynamic brushes and start playing around, shortly after, you are likely to end up with something nice. Make sure to swap brushes from time to time though.

  • Ngakids Art Zone. The NGAkids Art Zone app contains eight interactive activities inspired by works in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, plus a sketchbook for freehand drawing and a personal exhibition space where users can save and display art created with the program. 

  • Tate Kids. Play free art games and fun quizzes, find art activities, read about artists and share your art.

  • Aminah's World. Children explore the life and art of Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson by interpreting her work and conceptualizing their own world in a fun and entertaining way.

  • Toy Theater. Make learning a blast! Toy Theater is a chock full of interactive online art, reading & math games for kids. These free online educational games for kids are trusted by teachers around the world to provide real educational value for their classrooms.

  • Mondrimat. The website is a simple system which lets you experiment with space, color and visual rhythm in accordance with the theories of Piet Mondrian.