But Realistically: How About Some Great Art Projects That Don't Make a Mess

Amy Rees
May 24, 2008

When we let our creative spirits run wild, we couldn't care less about mess.  But for those days when we are a bit out of sync with our muse, we need things to be easy -- and neat -- to be inspiring. 

We know you've got great ideas here. 

Do share with us your trusted ways to let your little ones cook and and draw and sculpt and move and imagine and create -- all without requiring a mop and pail afterwards.

To get the conversation started, here are some of our tidiest treasures from the Savvy Source activity encyclopedia:

Sun-Bleached Prints

Mixed-Up People

Creating Collages

We've already trumpeted our love for pipe cleaners. No stains, no mess, no muss, no fuss. All imagination.

Or, there's our favorite messy-but-not-messy option: sculpting or painting or generally monkeying around with shaving cream!

From the Parents

  • Parent # 1

    My daughter has a finger painting aversion, so we "finger paint" with the paint inside a zip-lock baggie. We can do some color mixing and she has fun squishing the paints together to make new colors. Then she can practice drawing shapes, writing letters and numbers, or faces. Then she just smooths the bag out to erase and start again!

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 2

    We love the craft glue dots that you just peel and stick. You can get them at a craft store. While you there, pick up a bag of "jewels" and maybe a wooden or cardboard box, birdhouse, picture frame, ect. and spend some time making treasures! They make easy birthday party crafts too as they are not too messy.

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 3

    A fun idea that has engaged my 5-year old is the classic paper bag puppet. If you use a glue stick for adhering and avoid glitter, it is nearly-mess free. Just provide some googly eyes, yarn, and stickers, plus some crayons and you'll be all set.

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 4

    It is like pulling teeth to get my son to do a "traditional" art project, but he absolutely loves to chop food! I must say, he can dice a zucchini like a little sous chef. Also, this is a great activity to keep him busy while I am preparing a meal or unloading groceries. The key to keeping activity in the tidy category is food selection. Choose foods that are not juicy! Things that work very well are squash and potatoes. We get out a little cutting board, his kid-sized butter knife, a mixing bowl, and he goes to town right on the kitchen floor. A damp paper towl afterward is all the clean-up that is reqired. When we are feeling a little messier, he chops lemons and then we make lemonade :)

    over a year ago


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