When it comes to art projects, I’m a big fan of form + function. My own experience as a graphic designer has given me a deep appreciation for creating art that serves multiple purposes, so when designing projects for kids, my first thought is almost always, “what will they be able to do with this?”
The beauty of functional art projects (for kids and adults alike) is that long after the actual “making of,” they become part of a larger hands-on art experience through use or play.
This collection features a few of my functional art kid project favorites. Each one reinforces the idea that art isn’t just made to hang on the wall – we can have just as much fun with the product as the process!
These kids art projects are four twists on classics that put the “fun” in “functional” and encourage creativity through sustainable supplies.
Explore printing with DIY Vegetable-stamped Market Totes from barley & birch
Craft a set of beautiful Scrap Paper Bowls from Brainy Beginnings Network
Make a simple, smudge-free Chalk Pastel Rainbow Pillow from barley & birch
Recycle paper tubes into Hen and Chick Treat Boxes from Red Ted Art
Let out your inner art animal with this group of creative creatures that will have your kiddos playing all day!
Build a Play Pet Tank from Recycled Supplies with painted and paper cut foliage from barley & birch
Now that you have a play pet tank, fill it with Cereal Box Lizards from ART CAMP
Put together a Recycled Cardboard Puppet Theater from Make It Your Own
Make your own Painted Carton Bee Pollen-Collecting Game from Honigkukuk
Proudly wear your work with these four handmade costume ideas that use creative art processes and recycled supplies!
Decorate your own Kid-Made Superhero Capes from Oh Creative Day
Cut up and paint a pizza box to make a Lion Mask from barley & birch
Experiment with stamping Butterfly Masks from barley & birch
Fly high with a Paper Bag Butterfly Costume from Make It Your Own
Peg dolls, fairies, mermaids and gnomes – this artistic quartet of crafts is perfect for puppet-making or small world play.
Craft a darling set of Egg Carton Fairy Dolls from ART CAMP
Use up some scrap supplies with these Kid-Made Peg People from Art Bar
Make adorable Paper Tube and Egg Carton Gnome Party Invitations from Honigkukuk
Dip into a sea of art goodness with these dreamy Egg Carton Mermaid Dolls from ART CAMP
PRETEND PLAY FOOD
Food glorious food! From coloring to cardboard cutting, these DIY pretend play food projects are great opportunities for artistic exploration that can be used over and over for dramatic play.
Sew some simple DIY Felt Treats from Red Ted Art
Color-your-own Cardboard Market Food from barley & birch
Top your own Recycled Cardboard Pizza from La Maison de LouLou for Handmade Charlotte
Make a Cardboard Tea Set from Handy With Scissors
Need an escape? These 4 creative projects that will fire up your kids’ imaginations and small-world-building skills...
Imagine your way to hidden treasure with these Kid-Made Felt Maps from Make It Your Own
Construct an artist-inspired Collaged Building Block Castle from barley & birch for ART CAMP
Engineer a Recycled Construction Site from La Maison de LouLou for hello, Wonderful
Arrange a Magic Mushroom Fairy Garden from Make It Your Own
This group of artful activities has us dreaming of summer! Whether you’re inside beating the heat or dreaming of warmer days, these are annual crowd-pleasers.
Combine colors and textures for your own Sunflower Puppets from ART CAMP
Light up the night with an art-lined Upcycled Camp Lantern from barley & birch
Make Mod Podge Reusable Water Bottles from Handmade Charlotte
Get silly with some Paper Plate Summer Face Masks from Creating Creatives for Red Ted Art
ARTFUL BADGES, TROPHYS AND AWARDS
If you’ve worked your way through all the projects on this list so far, YOU deserve an AWARD! Here are a few of our favorite handmade prizes for art-standing efforts!
Create a set of Art Badges (with free printables) from barley & birch for hello, Wonderful
Make flair you can wear with Paper Plate Party Hats from Art Bar
Experiment with patterns for Geometric Cardboard Necklaces from barley & birch
Declare yourself the functional art winner with an Upcycled Trophy from Handy With Scissors
LOOSE PARTS & MIXED MEDIAS
Explore paper-folding, sewing with scraps, using nature finds and loose parts with this mini medley of functional art projects!
Try these cute Upcycled Giraffe Marionettes from Red Ted Art
Use up some scrap fabrics with a Squeezable Softie from Coloured Buttons
Work in a little nature with Mixed Media Stick Wands from Make It Your Own
Incorporate some math with Loose Part Flower Gardens from Make It Your Own
Looking to experiment with new art mediums and processes? Here are four fun functional art activities that will have your kids cheering for more!
Play with clay to make adorable Heart Pinch Pots from Red Ted Art
Create stackable art with a set of DIY Kids Art Play Blocks from hello, Wonderful
Try a Papier Mache Spring Basket from Red Ted Art
Make your own Sharpie Tie-Dyed Tee Shirts from Babble Dabble Do
HOME AND HABITAT BUILDING
From the city to the country, these homes and habitats are STEAM-filled, upcycled stunners your kids can play with for days.
Experiment with textures for a stylish play Mid-Century Modern Shoebox House from barley & birch
Build your own Fold-out Cardboard City from ART CAMP for Rose & Rex
Raise a DIY Recycled Play Barn from La Maison de LouLou for hello, Wonderful
Use colorful papers and washi tape to make Milk Carton Bunny Habitats from The Art Garden
Can’t get enough of this handmade goodness? Art-lovers will enjoy our list of 50+ amazing projects to help kids discover new art mediums (pair the projects with a book from our favorite art-themed picture books FTW!) And check out our list of 50 inventive ideas for a family movie & craft night,