As a teacher, I know that providing my children with rich, creative experiences is important. As a mom, I need easy and fun activities that won’t take me hours to set-up and prepare.
I have compiled a list of my absolute favorite easy-peasy, creative activities for young children. I use all of these with my 2-year-old and 3-year-old but they are also appropriate for up to age 8 or even beyond. These activities require just a few supplies (that you probably already have), minimum prep and a lot of imagination and creativity.
50 No-Prep Creative Activities for Kids
Open up a can of play dough and let your child use their imagination. You don’t even need to provide tools for this creative activity. Let them squish it, roll it, flatten it and manipulate it with their hands.
Grab a box of crayons and a piece of paper and there you have it- easy, simple, mess-free fun.
3. Musical Pots and Pans
You already have all the musical instruments you need right in your own kitchen. Set up some pots, give your children kitchen utensils for drum sticks and off they go creating beautiful music.
4. Pipe Cleaner Art
Pipe cleaners on their own are an excellent way for your children to get creative. They can be twisted together, made into shapes and used to build beautiful masterpieces. Give them to your children as-is and see what they can do.
You can purchase rubber stamps in a variety of shapes, characters and symbols. Give your child some paper and an ink pad and let them stamp away.
Stickers can be placed on paper or recyclables (think: old pizza or cereal box, egg or milk cartons). The great thing about stickers is they can be purchased in a wide-variety of sizes, characters and shapes and are virtually mess-free.
7. Dress-Up with Mommy or Daddy’s Clothes
No need for fancy play clothes for your child to get imaginative with dress-up play. Let your child explore your closet and see what they can find and use. A pretty hat? Some silky scarves? Mommy’s shoes? These are great for dressing-up.
8. Window Writing
My kids love drawing on windows and mirrors in our house. Crayola makes markers for this purpose and they wipe-off like magic. My kids like to write on our sliding glass patio doors and even if they get a little marker on the white trim, these markers still clean up no problem.
9. Sidewalk Chalk
Let the kids take they’re creativity outdoors with this quick activity. Sidewalk chalk can be purchased in a variety of colors and is perfect for making beautiful art on sidewalks and driveways.
10. Tinfoil Creations
Tinfoil play is an excellent creative activity because it can be manipulated and formed into balls, shapes and structures. The sound and feel of scrunching tinfoil is also a great sensory activity.
11. Blocks or Lego
Blocks provide endless opportunity for creating, building and using your imagination. There are so many different types of blocks on the market too, which can add variety to your current collection. In our house we have foam blocks, wooden blocks, Duplo and magnetic blocks.
String and some dollar store beads are all you need for this simple activity. Kids love making necklaces, bracelets or even key rings with these materials.
13. Markers on Recyclables
Pull some old boxes from the recycling bin- pizza boxes or egg cartons will do. Let your child scribble on them with markers.
14. Water Painting
A cup of water and a paintbrush can be used to “paint” virtually anything. Best suited for outside, get kids to “paint” the fence, rocks and patio furniture.
15. Glitter Glue
This type of fancy glue can be purchased in small pen-sized bottles or larger glue bottles. Give your child a piece of paper, paper plate or cardboard and let them squeeze the glitter glue onto the surface for beautiful creations.
16. iPad drawings
If you have a tablet, your children can draw mess-free and prep-free. There are numerous apps that let your child paint, color or draw all on one device. Just open up your app store and search for “drawing” or “colouring” apps.
17. Cutting Paper
A pair of scissors and some paper can make a great no-prep creative activity for kids of all ages. Let them cut and see what creations they can make. Even if your child is younger and can’t control their scissors well, they can still get excellent practice from this activity (my 2-year-old and 3-year-old LOVE to do this one)
No need for fancy dance-moves. Throw on some fun music and let your children dance to their hearts content.
19. Musical Spice Jars
My kids love playing with our spice jars (I know, it sounds strange). However, we discovered they could shake them and make music with them. Spice jars filled with peppercorns, rock salt and red pepper flakes work well.
20. Vertical Wall Drawings
Use a piece of tape to stick a large piece of paper to the wall. Have your children use this as a sort of easel. Bonus: Drawing on a vertical surface is actually good for your child.
21. Drawing on a chalkboard
Any kind of chalkboard will do. We have an easel-type board at our house but you could buy a small individual one and have your child draw on the board at the table. Kids love creating lines and pictures and erasing everything to start over.
22. Hama Beads
I have fond memories of using these tiny beads when I was a child. Kids use a a mini pegboard disc to place the beads and make beautiful creations. Use waxed paper and an iron to melt their art into something they can keep. Full instructions here.
My young children are just starting to enjoy using Plasticine. It’s a little harder to mold and manipulate than play dough, but the texture and feel is different enough from to make it an entirely different experience. Again, no tools necessary, just grab some and see what your kids can do.
24. Whiteboard Drawings
Whiteboards with whiteboard markers provide a clean, smooth, erasable drawing experience for children. My kids love using our whiteboard with vibrant colored markers.
25. Felt Board Scenes
You can purchase felt boards with pre-cut shapes, characters and images. They are great for no-mess, no-prep creative play. Just pull out the board and let your child get creative with the felt pieces.
Most of us have a few puppets lying around the house. If not, a sock or two will do. Throw a blanket over your dining room table and let your kids use it as a puppet theater.
27. Popsicle Stick Creations
Sometimes I’ll just give my kids materials- like a bunch of popsicle sticks- and see what they do with them. Provide a cookie sheet or tray for them to keep their creations “contained” and see what they come up with. If you’re feeling adventurous, add in some glue they can use to stick everything together.
28. Pen and Paper
There’s something about using a pen that kids love. Anytime I sit down to write out a list or note, my 3-year-old always asks to use my pen. Provide pens in different colors and a sheet of paper to draw on.
29. Sticky Notes
Kids love these things! Give your child a pad of sticky notes and designate a wall in your home that they can “stick” to their hearts content. See what kinds of patterns and shapes they can come up with by using just sticky notes.
30. A Big Box
Give your child some markers, stickers and a box and see what they make it into. Give them a bunch of smaller boxes and they can stack them and build beautiful creations. Just save those recyclables!