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15 Art Therapy Activities Kids Can Do By Themselves

Imagine how much suffering your kids might endure when they feel sadness from poor marks in school? Feel depressed from being bullied? Embarrassment from being teased or made fun of, and they cannot share these feelings with anybody.

If any of these scenarios sound familiar to your children, and you would like to “sneak” into their emotional world that is unknown to any other individual, then Art Therapy may be both therapeutic. It can be an insightful solution that you can partake in to aid them.

RELATED: Easy DIY Art Supplies Perfect For You And Your Kids

What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is a form of expressive therapy that involves the use of creative techniques such as drawing, painting, making collages, coloring, or sculpting. Emotions are not always natural to describe in words, but children can invoke these emotions into their own piece of art and make it easier for themselves and others to comprehend.

Benefits of Art Therapy

Art Therapy Activities and Ideas are a means of treatment for people of all ages. However, Art Therapy for children is a great technique to help them express their feelings, enhance their abilities, release their stress and depression, and enjoy the pleasures of creating art. As their parents, teachers, or caregivers, having children draw or write down something that will articulate their feelings is a polite and useful way that will allow you to share these feelings with them. At that point, we can be able to explore the emotional wall that children had already built and come up with solutions to help them.
At a higher level, children of all ages, both special needs and not, even though they still have a voice, may not have the language skills to express themselves. Art helps awaken a child's imagination and creativity to help them discover who they are and how to engage their senses. It seems to have a substantial impact on the brain's neural connections, which act as the wiring for learning.

Here are 15 Art Therapy Activities kids can do by themselves:

Love/Emotion Rocks

The great thing about painting rocks is that your canvas doesn't cost you much. You paint on what you pick up from the Earth. If a rock doesn't turn out the way you want, you can just grab another one. You don't pressure yourself into creating something “beautiful or perfect,” and because of that, most of the results are pretty amazing.

Another benefit of this Art Therapy Activity is that even simple doodling looks great on rocks. A stone is pretty decorative in itself. Sometimes you get inspired by a particular shape or texture, and patterns emerge you wouldn't have thought of otherwise.


Even if your stones look clean, you should scrub them with a little soapy water and a brush before you paint them. There is always a slight residue of dust and dirt on them. This would result in smudges or paint that chips off once it dries.
You can paint them with acrylic paint or use permanent markers if you want monochromatic patterns. If you use markers, be sure to use waterproof ones! Otherwise, it will just smear or come off.
Finish it off with a layer of clear acrylic spray paint. The natural colors of the rocks will show off nicely, and your design will be water- and weatherproof. You can also use clear nail polish for that.
Get some more emotion rocks ideas down below.

Emoji Crafts

Everyone in this day and age knows what an emoji is, and many kids can identify with different emojis on different days when they have a good one or bad. It can be as simple as drawing out the emoji that they feel on a piece of paper to a more complicated craft such as the emoji bookmark. Emoji crafts are fun ways for kids to express themselves in Art Therapy Ideas.


You will need your basic arts and crafts materials such as colored paper, scissors, glue, etc. For further directions, watch this youtube video.

Paper Plate Self Portraits

Here's a fun and easy Art Therapy Activity for kids to make: paper plate self-portrait craft. It's perfect for an “all about me project,” or to make just for fun. Using supplies you likely already have on hand, your kids can turn a paper plate into a life-size image of their own face.

Kids love making self-portraits. After all, children love it when the spotlight shines on them, and this craft makes your child the subject of the entire project.


As you may have figured out, you will need paper plates for the base of your self-portrait. Acrylic craft paint is ideal for your facial details, eyes, tattoos? You may have. Paintbrushes will be needed to apply the paint onto the plates. Yarn works well for the hair of your self-portraits but can be substituted with colored paper, or anything else you can get your hands on that looks like hair. Be sure to glue whatever hairy object you have chosen onto your plate. Anything else you want to make your self-portraits unique can be added as well. Check out these Paper Plate Self Portraits and do it yourself. Be creative!

Handy Dandy Self-Esteem Art

All of us have hands, and with a little creativity and ingenuity, we can make a little self-esteem art with the outline of our own hand. There is no limit to how creative you can be with this activity. Still, the most straightforward way you can for your young learner that would like to engage in some Art Therapy is for them to outline their hand and go wild.


Having lots of blank sheets of paper available for your youngin will prove to be necessary as they learn how to perfect the tracing of their own hand. Make sure to recycle all of that unused paper! Once you or they have finished with their perfect tracing, then you can begin to fill in your Handy Dandy Self-Esteem Art the way that whoever sees fit. An excellent way for your young one to start and stay positive is to write “I am…” in the palm of the hand and then fill in the fingers with different strengths, attributes, and/or emotions that they showcase the most in their lives.
Get more ideas here and create your own Handy Dandy.

Emotional Wheel

This Art Therapy Activity is good to break the ice with anybody that you want to use art therapy to express their different emotions. It is also a natural “check-in” to find out how this person is feeling and the issues he/she is dealing with at this time in his/her life. After creating a pie chart with 8 sections, this person gets to choose 8 emotions and then color in the pie pieces with patterns/colors/etc. on how they feel when expressing/showing this emotion.


Colored Pencils or Markers and a White Piece of Paper is all that you will need to get started on this emotional wheel. Start with a piece of white paper and draw a circle filling the page.
Draw a line straight down the center of the circle, then draw a line down the center, crisscrossing the first line. Follow this by halving the other pies again and again until you have 8 pies. Now, you should label the 8 circles with 8 different emotions that you commonly feel in a day, week, month, or even year. Finally, emote through art onto this wheel using colors, patterns, and so on.
Get inspiration from these wheels and drive your own creative bus.

Wish Box

All of us have aspirations to attain, and many of these aspirations require tangible and intangible ideas that we would want for ourselves. New opportunities in life begin with a wish: a desire or hope for something to happen. To turn your wishes into reality, start with a Wish Box and discover where it might take you. This is such a fantastic Art Therapy Idea that adults can do with kids.

Remember…with each wish, you are planting a seed that may or may not germinate. Be patient. Your wish is only the first step towards a better future.


Find or make a small box with a lid. A tissue box is a simple and easy box to begin creating your wish box. Get creative and decorate your box to your liking. Cut small strips of paper – big enough to write down your wishes. Write each wish on a single slip of paper and put it in the box. Start each wish with: I wish…(and complete it with your desire or hope for something to happen). Example: I wish to visit Italy. Write as many wishes as you like. BELIEVE in your heart that what you wish for will come true. Put your Wish Box in a special place. On occasion, you can look through your wishes. Remove the hopes that have come true and those that no longer matter to you. Always add new ones.
Check out these wish boxes that already became the truths.

Origami Fortune Teller

I'm sure we've all made these at some point in time. This is a timeless craft that has been around and will stay around for years to come with kids that love to make them. Traditionally, these were made as fortune tellers to see whether or not we would be rich, have a beautiful home, marry that one person, etc. With a few tweaks here and there, you can change this classic craft from a fortune teller to a form of Art Therapy Idea.


All you will need is a SQUARE piece of paper and a pen or pencil to write in different emotions, feelings, etc. You can also be creative in the process and use various pieces of colored paper or stickers to decorate it. Here are the steps to make your Origami Art Therapy

The Feelings Journal

The simplest yet hardest daily question that few kids can honestly answer is, “How Are You Feeling Today?” Let them express their feelings by making a Feelings Journal using their own creativity. All they need to have is a journal that they like. They can design the covers for their journal and give it a name. They get to use art techniques such as journaling, drawing, coloring, making shapes, cutting, and gluing images. Making a Feelings Journal is an Art Therapy Idea that helps kids express their thoughts and feelings to the adults who want to help them deal with their life challenges.
Never forget that a journal is one kind of personal possession that kids might not want adults to invade. So we should respect their privacy, let them relieve their stress and anxiety in the journal, and be ready to be the most trustworthy person with whom they can share their precious things.


There are many different kinds and styles of Feelings Journal that kids can do themselves. You can give them examples and let them create their own templates for the journal, or you can print some worksheets and stick them to the journal like this.

The Worry Worms

“The Worry Worms,” an intervention from Paris Goodyear-Brown's book entitled “The Worry Wars,” is a great Art Therapy which helps children who are struggling with anxiety or fears. The purpose of these tiny little worms is to help kids identify and begin talking about their worries, which sometimes “be wriggly and hard to pin down” in a non-threatening way.


First, let kids draw, color, and cut their favorite-shaped worms. Next, adults can hide some rubber worms around the room and then play a game of “hot and cold” to find them. Once kids find a worm, they have to talk about one of their own worries about it. Then the concerns can be written on paper worms and placed in a can of worms to help contain their fears. Their fears can stay in the can until the child is ready to battle them.

You can find some examples of The Worry Worms here.

Hands Past and Future

This therapy is an easily makeable art idea for kids. It could be done simultaneously by parents and children to narrow the distance between family members or build trust in the family. Each family member can create their own “Time Travel” hands and take a look at the old habits which they should give up and make a list of things that they should do to improve themselves.

Through this Art Therapy Activity, kids can feel the warmth of the family and gain more confidence because everyone makes mistakes. Plus, whenever they fall in the path of life, the family will always be beside them, give them strength and faith.


There are no more than 2 steps for this Art Therapy Activity:

1. One by one, place your hands on the paper and outline their shapes with pencils. Name the left one, “The Past Me,” and the right one, “The Future Me.”

2. Write or draw about anything you did in the past and the ways you want to make a better version of you in the future. Then decorate these hands and color them, like these.

Mixed Emotions Paper Chain

If kids usually lack vocabulary in describing themselves, then using color is a perfect creative form of Art Therapy for kids to express their feelings. They can use different colors to show their mixed emotions like the cartoon “Inside Out.” While they paint their feelings, they can talk about what made them happy or help them cope with their fear or anger.


Allow kids to write about their mood on different colored strips of paper to create a paper chain. Don't forget to remind them to write the causes which disturbed their emotional world.
You can see a vivid example here to try out with your kids.

The Tree Of Strength

All of the kids have strengths, but they might not be able to recognize them. Drawing a Tree Of Strength is a wonderful way for them to think about their inner possibilities and have a chance to improve them. Children's abilities have no limit, as the number of the leaves, one fall down, the new one will grow. Art Therapy is really a simple but effective way for both parents and kids to understand themselves.


You can show their kids how to create their own “Tree Of Strength” by following these directions. They can use their hands to make the bodies of the trees, fingers to create branches and add leaves on there. Sometimes it can be “A Goal Tree,” which has a body as a goal to reach and branches as detailed steps to make it real.

The Shield Of Strength

Children are such innocent and vulnerable “gifts of life” that need to be emotionally and physically protected by families and friends. Some kids might lose self-esteem or find it hard to see their strengths when overwhelmed by grief. In that case, a Shield of Strength is the number-one Art Therapy Idea to help them explore their gifts, build their self-esteem, and improve problem-solving skills by writing down their own solutions to deal with challenges.


It should be so simple to make a Shield Of Strength or let kids draw it themselves by following these introductions.

Finally, the most important thing is that we should keep and hang the shields they made on a noticeable area, or take them everywhere they go like a “real” defense. As a result, they can always remember to keep their chins up and believe in themselves.

Things that bug me

This Art Therapy Idea is absolutely a natural and creative way for kids to express and relieve their negative feelings. It can be done anytime, anywhere by their own hands with their own imagination. Somehow, this therapy can help children not only gain more knowledge of nature but also have a closer connection with the insect world.


1. Give the children some artistic models of insects (ladybugs, butterflies, bees, …) and let them create them onto sheets of paper with the title “Things That Bug Me.” Sometimes they can add, “And How I Solve It” under the title if they really want to fight their life challenges.

2. They can divide the insect body into different parts (head, eyes, wings, spots,…) equal to the amount of feelings they have in the day. Then, color these ‘negative' bugs which need to fly away.

You can find some interesting “Things that bug me” here.

Bottled-up Emotional Tornado

Tornadoes are natural occurrences in the world that come in strong and leave a disaster in their wake. Like the tornado, pent up emotions, if kept dormant for too long, can be devastating to relationships after releasing them. Keeping feelings bottled up for too long can be devastating for both the person that is keeping them inside and everyone else around them.

This activity will help show you that when they feel an angry tornado building up inside of you, then you could use this coping technique to help defuse the anger. It is also a fun way to keep around and create your own little natural disasters within the confines of a plastic bottle.


You will need the plastic bottle for your tornado containment area, water to fill in your container, liquid soap to help create the tornado effect, paper, markers, glitter, and food coloring to make your bottled-up emotional tornado unique to you.
For further instruction on how to do this, click here.

Have anyone tried out these 15 Art Therapy Activities to help your children? Share your experiences in the comments below.


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