SingaporeMotherhood | Baby & Toddler

May 2017

8 Free Ways to Engage Kids in Arts At Home – Singapore Style!

Did you know that exposing your child to the arts also helps equip them with important tools they need to be successful in life? Here are some simple ideas with a uniquely local touch to get the little ones started.

We should encourage all children to dabble in the arts from a young age for many reasons. For one thing, it helps them to express their feelings in ways they may not be able to articulate through speech. Also, the arts expose them to different cultures, giving them a better understanding of people from different backgrounds. Along the way, children learn important life skills like empathy, self-awareness and self-discipline.


Canvass founder and programme director, Jolie Michelle Ow, agrees. She adds, “Art is an especially nurturing method of learning for kids who may have learning disabilities like dyslexia. It can even be useful in managing children with hyperactive or anxious temperaments, helping to calm them or overcome low self-esteem.”

Fostering kids’ creativity through expression, experimentation and discovery even seems to result in better academic success. Just ask the 2016 cohort of graduates from the School of the Arts (SOTA). They achieved a 100 per cent pass rate for their International Baccalaureate (IB) examinations! Read all about it on

The good news is that there are many ways to engage kids in the arts. Just visit The A List Singapore to stay up to date. For starters, check out these hands-on activities in the upcoming June school holidays:

  • Playeum’s Children’s Centre for Creativity invites kids to create their idea of a future home
  • Discover how eggs can be art at Singapore Philatelic Museum
  • Join your toddlers in parent-and-child art workshops at Singapore Art Museum
  • Let the kids be entranced by handbells at Victoria Concert Hall
  • It’s Children’s Season at National Museum of Singapore again − ’nuff said!

Don’t be surprised if your child is inspired to create their own art at home after all that! But don’t fret, here are some examples of how you can have more artsy fun together in the comfort of your own home. All you need are some ingredients from your kitchen or storeroom, and a healthy dash of creativity!

Visual Arts

1. Painting up a Rainbow

arts for kids - painting rainbows

Remember these toys and games from our childhood? Chapteh, zero-point rubber band rope, goli (marbles) and even those space bubbles we used to blow – all these make for excellent tactile painting ‘tools’ – who knew?! Just set the little ones up with some washable paints and watch them create beautiful artwork! Former primary school teacher and founder of PlayLeXue, Joey Ng, came up with this series of inspired ideas to keep her 3.5-year-old son, Qi Rui, busy, and he loved them! You can use washi tape to create relief art and peel it off after it’s dry.

Watch these video snippets to see how simple yet fun it can be:

2. Getting the Melt On

arts for kids - ice painting

Freezing coloured ice adds a cooler twist to watercolour painting. A cooler twist – geddit, geddit? Never mind, but you’ll surely appreciate this idea if your kids have a habit of putting their fingers into their mouths. Fill up an ice tray with their favourite drinks, such as Milo, orange juice, Ribena and bandung. You can use ice trays of different shapes and insert popsicle sticks if you wish. For another variation, let them drip the melting ice through a coffee sock like uncles use at old-school kopitiams.

3. Stamping Your Way around the World

arts for kids - eraser stamping

Got old erasers lying around? These retro country flag erasers we used to collect work perfectly for this purpose. Kids get to learn about other countries at the same time. You can help younger ones carve letters and patterns on them, and let them loose with some colourful non-toxic stamp pads. Of course, other common household items, such as dishwashing sponges and good old potatoes, can also make good stamps. The possibilities are endless!

4. Stringing the Fun Along

arts for kids - raffia craft

Plastic raffia string is not only useful for tying parcels, but also makes for fun crafty projects. Use any clear plastic as a backdrop – this can be anything from book-wrappers to Ziploc bags. Then let the kids get creative with scissors – younger ones may need help here – and clear sticky tape. Any details can be drawn in with a permanent marker. Stick the finished collage up in a window and you have a cute suncatcher! Or how about wrapping the raffia string around a toilet roll core to create a fun pen caddy?

Culinary Arts

5. Rolling in the Dough

arts for kids - play dough

Yes, culinary arts are a form of the arts too. Many have taken to Instagram with meals that are almost too cute to eat (see here and here for examples). Start the little ones with something simpler, like what WAHM Siew Lin Cherie, who blogs at Cherie Noms, did with her four-year-old daughter En Qi. Create homemade play dough with flour, salt, water (recipe here) and some food colouring, then just have fun. Learning to use moulds helps develop motor skills too, and as the kids grow, so will their culinary skills!

6. Cooking up Zero Calorie Meals

arts for kids - zero calorie meals

Five-year-old Tan Kai Yi loves to help his mama, art director Ng Say Lee, in the kitchen, and sometimes gets inspired to create his own ‘meals’. The photo above is the result of one of those instances. He used materials such as old magazines and cardboard scraps, and with some colour pencils, cooked up his favourite foods! Because which kid doesn’t love French fries, chicken nuggets and pizza?

Performing Arts

7. Beatboxing for the Soul

arts for kids - musical instruments

Even if your toddler is too young to be formally learning the piano or violin, what about giving him a head start with ‘music instruments’ you can DIY? Start with an empty tissue paper box, a couple of pencils and a few rubber bands, and voila! – It’s a guitar! Dry beans or rice in a tin make rhythmic shakers. Drums are pretty self-explanatory – experiment with a variety of containers and ‘drumsticks’ for different tones. You’ll find more instrument ideas here.

8. Not-So-Traditional Chinese Dragon Dance

arts for kids - dragon dance

The ancient Chinese art of lion and dragon dance is something we look forward to every Chinese New Year. Using materials like strips of paper folded accordion-style, straws, pipe cleaners and a toilet roll core, Joey and Qi Rui had lots of fun making their own dancing dragon! Once you’re done, pair it with your homemade drums for the ultimate dragon dancing performance! Like this:

Special thanks go out to creative mummies Joey, Cherie and Say Lee, and your talented children, for sharing your ideas, photos and videos.

This sponsored post is supported by The A List Singapore – Singapore’s Essential Arts & Culture Guide. #ALISTsg

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8 Free Ways to Engage Kids in Arts At Home – Singapore Style!