Summer Fun: Instilling a Love for the Arts on the Cheap


My family loves the arts. We enjoy live productions, museums, art galleries and concerts. We try to get the kids out and expose them to the arts as often as possible. This isn’t always inexpensive. Live productions can cost upwards of $50 per ticket at larger venues, so we don’t do those often; we do, however, have a smaller theater in our area that puts on some kids shows during the summer months. The performers are from camps in the area. My daughters love these productions, and we try to attend as many as we can.

I feel it’s important to teach our kids about the arts as much as we can. To show them how you can see something differently than others see it, and then to allow them the time to explore and create on their own. Unfortunately, the schools, with pressures on testing and finances, aren’t always able to teach the arts as much as they would like. I know several schools that have cut arts funding from their budget.

But as parents, we can open up the world of the arts in our homes to our children. If you start young, you have a better chance that your child will feel comfortable experimenting with things like drama, drawing, painting, singing, dancing and acting. And it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money!

Here are three things we are doing this summer to reinforce the love of the arts in our home (on the cheap):

Draw it as you see it

I was lucky enough to take a trip to London and Paris this year with my husband. We visited museums that held originals from some of the greats of all times, like Monet and Van Gogh. In most of the museums, which, if you can believe it, were free, art lovers sat with sketchpads and drew what they saw. I felt this would be a great way to spend some time this summer with my kids. At the start of summer, I purchased three sketchpads – one for each girl, one for myself ($2 each or so at Walmart) and a pack of charcoal pencils (with a coupon from Michaels). We have researched two art museums in our area. Next week we will go to the first museum (after spending this week looking at books of various painters, sculptors, and other artisans) and try our hand at ‘drawing what we see.’ We have experimented first on our back porch, finding something in nature to draw. The girls love it, and it is a great way to show them how we can interpret beauty in many ways, and that every drawing has value.

Act out – in a good way!

If your kids love to sing and dance, how about getting together a group of friends to put on a play for other kids in the neighborhood? It doesn’t have to be fancy. Look for books in the library about drama, theater, and acting. Find a book the kids love or a character. (Mine do plays about Scooby Doo all the time!) If they are doing a book, have them write out what part they will act. If they are making it up, have them write out their parts. Assign characters. Put together costumes using what you have on hand. Let them practice a variety of times, and then put on the production one early evening in the backyard or inside the house. As you do this, check out books on theater and talk to them about set design, things they should know when acting on stage (pitch of voice, where to look when speaking, different keywords in theater). You might wrap it all up by finding a kid’s performance at a small theater in your area and taking them all to see that.

DIY Music

My kids love to belt out tunes. They sing with the radio and they sing on their own. If your kids enjoy making music, how about having them write a song? You can even make your own instruments. Again, head to the library for a book on easy instruments to make, like tambourines (paper plates with beans inside) and guitars (rubber bands and boxes). Talk about lyrics, verses, rhymes, and then have your children write their own song. If they are older and have more of an attention span for this type of thing, let them dress up as a band and perform it. You can even take video of their band in action!

Some additional ideas to instill a love of the arts:

  • Head to the museum and conduct an artist scavenger hunt! Print out artwork from the museum website in advance and have your kids look for them. Then discuss their thoughts and interpretations of the works.
  • Walk around boardwalks, public parks and squares in the evenings and find musicians, street performers to expose your children to a variety of performance arts as well as artists.
  • Look for free concerts of varying genres in your area and take your kids out for a family picnic to attend.

Image via Flickr/N i c o l a