families at create playdate artmaking activity

6 Reasons Create Playdate is Great for Little Ones

It’s so nice that here he can do something that’s always new every month with new materials.

– Tara, mom of Harrison, age 3

The Denver Art Museum’s family and community programs team launched the Create Playdate program specially for preschool-aged children to build growing minds and inspire lifelong creativity. Some months include special guests from other cultural organizations to incorporate music, movement, and games. Create Playdate is best for ages 3-5, but older and younger siblings are welcome.

This program is included in general admission, which is free for kids and free for members. Create Playdate is a bilingual program (available in English and Spanish).

Drop in between 10 am and 1 pm every second Wednesday of the month (except for September) to experience Create Playdate for yourself.

Some Create Playdate Facts:

  • The program launched on January 14, 2009
  • It was founded as both a creative program for small children and a place for their adults to meet up and socialize
  • Over the past 10 years there have been over 100 art projects developed just for Create Playdate

You guys do a lot of different activities. It’s a great experience. We loved when the music was here and did artwork with that. Kennedy was so happy and loved that.

–  Erika, caregiver of Kennedy, age 2

Why make art with very young children?

1. Art can foster imagination and creativity

Although kids naturally use their imaginations as they play and create, art can feed kids’ creative minds and push them to explore new possibilities. Seeing and creating art allows kids to experience the world in new ways, through exploring different senses, mediums, and tools. Art can inspire kids to wonder, think outside of the box, and try new things. The Create Playdate program at the DAM seeks to do just this—inspire creativity and imagination. This playful program for very young kids and their parents, grandparents, or caregivers includes:

  • a fun new art project each month inspired by artwork in the museum specifically for the early childhood age
  • storytime in front of the artwork
  • instructor-guided activities to explore the artwork

2. Art builds lifelong skills

When we develop Create Playdate activities we think about what little hands are capable of. Activities like cutting, stamping, drawing, and stringing beads help to develop fine motor skills. In addition to this, art can help build other skills important in a school or work environment. Kids learn from making their own art—and from experiencing the work of other artists—the importance of focus, experimentation, taking risks, and making mistakes.

3. Art is a way to explore feelings

As a form of nonverbal communication, art allows kids to process and express their feelings, both big and small. By understanding that they can express emotion through what they create, kids may also be able to recognize what others are expressing in their own work. This reflection can help kids build empathy and a deeper understanding of other people.

4. Art can help build kids’ confidence

It is important to give kids the freedom and space to experiment and create. So much can be learned from the process of making and practicing rather than the final product. According to the blog The Artful Parent, the outcome of allowing kids the opportunity to make and dabble with materials is “not to produce career artists but to raise children who are confident and comfortable with their creativity in whatever form in takes.”

5. Art provides a way to experience and appreciate our world

Art is a common ground that connects us as people and as members of a global community. It has the ability to expose kids to new perspectives and ideas and to challenge them to think about what it means to be a person living in this world.

6. Art is all around us

As kids make their own art and visit art museums, they build a familiarity with art. Jacqueline Terrassa, Chair of Museum Education at the Art Institute of Chicago explains that “making art familiar, an everyday event, rather than something isolated, also helps children become comfortable with it.” Visiting art museums—and taking advantage of opportunities to make and create while there—can help make kids more comfortable with visiting other cultural institutions in the future.

Lindsay Genshaft is manager of family and community programs at the Denver Art Museum.