Art, Creativity, & Kids: 20+ Resources

Part of the Cool Sites series

Quote paint!

Many schools have cut out the Arts from the curriculum due to budget cuts and the emphasis on raising standardized test scores. Art is important in our lives. Many students express themselves through art. In my personal experience I have seen how painting community murals, creating music, choreographing a dance, designing a stage set, taking incredible photographs, or reciting self-created poetry has given children in hopeless situations hope. I have helped provide summer art programs and creative writing programs for children who were in juvenile detention centers, living in homeless shelters, or struggling with peer pressure. For other children, art becomes an outlet for feeling achievement. Many children who struggle with reading and math need self belief that they are not stupid and can be successful in school. Art, music, dance, photography, and creative writing programs can help these students receive this confidence. In society, we admire and praise artists, but we send a mix message to children when we abandon the Arts at our schools.

Maybe we do not have an Arts curriculum in our schools, but we can and should incorporate the Arts in our lessons. I love letting my students get creative when it comes to projects. My students are given general objectives to achieve but are allowed to use whatever media they wish to show their work. Some make videos, some use posters, some create live productions with other students playing the guitar, and some create online presentations. I have even let my students create poetry or comic strips for their journal entries. I just found that some of my students would learn the material better if I let them choose how to learn it. What did I observe when I no longer limited them? I found many came alive, shared their passions, and got the rest of the students in the class excited! I found that they would approach their classmates or others in the school to be part of their presentations. The entire school would want to come to my class to see the collaborations! We had so much fun and the students enjoyed learning.

Top Art Sites

These are my favorites free tools and resources to get students creating! Included is a brief description and helpful links to facilitate using these tools more effectively.

  • Drawing: How to Draw– Several drawing tutorials.
  • Deviant Art– World’s largest online community of artists and art lovers.
  • Digital Storytelling Resources and Ideas Wiki– Find several ideas for claymation, stop motion, and other films.
  • 40 Writing, Music, and Art Resources
  • Animata– Free software for editing and creating brilliant animation films.
  • Dismantling the Bomb– Great interactive website that explores the fine line between art and graffit.
  • Onemotion– Sketch and paint on a canvas with many tools, play games, or make music on the drum machine.
  • Odosketch– Fantastic and easy tool for students to create detailed sketches. For more information see David Kapular’s post.
  • Slimber– Draw on this canvas, choose the background color and the dimensions. The best drawings are featured on the front of the website so gives the students some incentives.
  • Artpad– Similar to Canvastic where students paint and can playback. However, you can select frames and this has a nicer look. Also has an iPad app.
  • Canvastic– An easy tool for students to paint. Students are able to playback how they painted their masterpiece.
  • Rate My Drawing– Nice chat and collaborative drawing feature. You can also draw on a sketch pad which is animated. Huge community of artists that share their work.
  • Guess A Sketch– Draw online and others try to guess what it is! Great collaborative online game and has an iPhone app (the app costs $1.99).
  • Artsonia– Kids can display and sell their art on this online museum.
  • Playful Learning Experiences– This wonderful site provides you with many activities in writing and arts and crafts!
  • Artopia– Teachers can create art galleries of students work. See Kelly Tenkely’s post for classroom application ideas.
  • Sketchcast– Students can draw in several different colors, add text, narrate the drawing, and embed it into a wiki or blog.
  • Doink– Students create free animation videos.
  • VoiceDraw– Draw with the sound of your voice. A high voice goes one direction while a medium voice creates a straight line. It’s in beta and a bit tricky but a fun experiment.
  • Art, Drawing and Art Educational Freeware– Whatever your students want to do artistically you can find a free tool on this website!
  • Best Art sites for Learning English– Larry Ferlazzo provides you with many tools and explains why they made his best list.


Integrate art in at least one lesson this semester.

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What tools inspire your students to be creative?

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Please explore any website before using with your students. Many of these have Google ads and community forums!

Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell),, and on her blog,, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at


  1. Yay! So glad I found this list, especially after our conversation tonight!

    Here is the one I was talking about “Bord” ($.99)

    We also like Adobe Ideas (more difficult) FREE:

    and Doodle Buddy (with audio stamps) FREE

    The FREE Toy Story App for iPad has a free drawing white board.

    Happy Doodling!

  2. i love kids..i love their innocent and their curiousity. and their creativity is very big than us the old..this posting remind me of beauty of our children ages

  3. Shelly, I’m so glad you wrote about the importance of art and music in education.

    It is a shame that art was the subject that was cut, especially that through sensitising activities, making and experiencing art kids develop tremendously important skills they will need in life. I think researchers and child-psychologists who have clear evidence about the effect of art and music on child-development should get more involved and let their voices heard.

    Incorporating sensitising activities towards art/music and making art/music from an early age is an absolute must, including ELT, where the language becomes a mere tool for kids to express opinions and feelings about art/music and to communicate about the process of making art/music. In my experience, children of any age, including boys – about whom most teachers say that would be not interested at all – have appreciated these types of activities a great deal, and it has had a very positive affect on their motivation and willingness to express their feelings and thoughts in English.

    Thanks, Shelly, for all the wonderful resources!

    • Erika,

      Thank you for your response. It would be interesting to get child psychologists and researchers on board to hear about the impact on children. I know how much music helps my young and adult learners with their English. Also, it gives me a chance to get to know more about my learners when they share how unique they are.

  4. What a great list of resources to help integrate art into the classroom! But why limit that to children? Don’t adult ESL students also enjoy hands-on activities? It can’t be childish of course. But in my limited experience with adult ESL students, my collage lessons were some of the most successful. I was teaching recent adult immigrants and we did several activities around images from home vs. images from the USA. It was a way to touch on difficult topics like missing another place, cultural stereotypes, and culture shock with students who didn’t have enough English to communicate on those subjects without the visual supports.

    • Hi Kate! You are so right! Why limit to children. Adults love fun as well. Thanks for sharing those great ideas and as you have proven hands-on activities don’t have to be childish. They can lead to serious discussions. I think integrating images helps inspire these discussions with adults.

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