This collection of over 40 functional kids art projects encourages little ones to create hands-on art they can play with and use in everyday life. | via barley & birch
  • Save
Discover, Make

Discover: 40+ Functional Art Projects for Kids

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.

Serious art is born from serous play | Discover a collection of over 40 functional kids art projects via barley & birch
  • Save

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!

MODERN CLASSICS

These kids art projects are four twists on classics that put the “fun” in “functional” and encourage creativity through sustainable supplies.

This collection of over 40 functional kids art projects encourages little ones to create hands-on art they can play with and use in everyday life. | via barley & birch
  • Save

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

ANIMAL-THEMED CRAFTS

Let out your inner art animal with this group of creative creatures that will have your kiddos playing all day!

Animal-themed art and play projects for kids - part of a collection of over 40 functional art projects that encourage little ones to create hands-on art they can play with and use in everyday life. | via barley & birch
  • Save

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

COSTUME ART

Proudly wear your work with these four handmade costume ideas that use creative art processes and recycled supplies!

DIY Costume art and play projects for kids - part of a collection of over 40 functional art projects that encourage little ones to create hands-on art they can play with and use in everyday life. | via barley & birch
  • Save

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

FANTASY PLAY

Peg dolls, fairies, mermaids and gnomes – this artistic quartet of crafts is perfect for puppet-making or small world play.

Doll-themed art and play projects for kids - part of a collection of over 40 functional art projects that encourage little ones to create hands-on art they can play with and use in everyday life. | via barley & birch
  • Save

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.

Pretend food art and play projects for kids - part of a collection of over 40 functional art projects that encourage little ones to create hands-on art they can play with and use in everyday life. | via barley & birch
  • Save

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

STEAM PLAY

Need an escape? These 4 creative projects that will fire up your kids’ imaginations and small-world-building skills...

Imagination-filled art and play projects for kids - part of a collection of over 40 functional art projects that encourage little ones to create hands-on art they can play with and use in everyday life. | via barley & birch
  • Save

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

SUMMER-THEMED PROJECTS

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.

Outdoor-themed art and play projects for kids - part of a collection of over 40 functional art projects that encourage little ones to create hands-on art they can play with and use in everyday life. | via barley & birch
  • Save

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!

Award-themed art and play projects for kids - part of a collection of over 40 functional art projects that encourage little ones to create hands-on art they can play with and use in everyday life. | via barley & birch
  • Save

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!

This collection of over 40 functional kids art projects encourages little ones to create hands-on art they can play with and use in everyday life. | via barley & birch
  • Save

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

MEDIUM EXPLORATION

Looking to experiment with new art mediums and processes? Here are four fun functional art activities that will have your kids cheering for more!

This collection of over 40 functional kids art projects encourages little ones to create hands-on art they can play with and use in everyday life. | via barley & birch
  • Save

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.

Steam-building house-themed art and play projects for kids - part of a collection of over 40 functional art projects that encourage little ones to create hands-on art they can play with and use in everyday life. | via barley & birch
  • Save

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,

This collection of over 40 functional kids art projects encourages little ones to create hands-on art they can play with and use in everyday life. | via barley & birch
  • Save
This collection of over 40 functional kids art projects encourages little ones to create hands-on art they can play with and use in everyday life. | via barley & birch
  • Save
This collection of over 40 functional kids art projects encourages little ones to create hands-on art they can play with and use in everyday life. | via barley & birch
  • Save
author-avatar

About Amanda Eldridge

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help families discover their creative potential and be inspired to make the world a better place through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. When not playing with ideas, designs and projects for barley & birch, Amanda enjoys working as a modern art curator and managing her own small design business.

Related Posts

2 thoughts on “Discover: 40+ Functional Art Projects for Kids

  1. Thank you SO much for including us in your AWESOME collection of projects that kids can make and then play with, learn from or use!
    Heart,

    The Scorers-

    1. amanda says:

      You and your crew have made so many amazing things – it was nearly impossible to narrow down which ones to share! I love everything you make, so thank YOU for letting me include some! – Xx Amanda

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *