Art + Play

Author: Alex Grace, Communications and Relationships Manager

Our current exhibition All I want to be is a gift for audiences and educators alike. It shows so many different ways to explore play, experimentation and creativity through art. These school holidays are shaping up to be a little rainy, so our educators have put their thinking caps on and come up with a whole bunch of ways you can bring art + play into your home.

Tips for art play:

  • Let children take their time
  • Have multiple materials to explore
  • Set the scene for play and experimenting. Ask open questions like “What could we do with this?” “How can we use our imaginations?” “How many different marks can we make with a pencil, a stick, our hands?”
  • Say “Yes!”
    More paint? “YES!” Can I use the paintbrush upside down? “Yes” Can a fork be a paintbrush “Yes” Can I see if I can stand on it? “YES!” Can I draw with my eyes closed? “Yes” This is a lady, standing on a dog, holding an icecream that a whale gave her! “YES!!!!!”
  • Make it a joyful experience. If messy play is not something you want in your kitchen then take it outside.
  • Don’t have a finished product in mind. Exploring play and experimenting is not easy when you are under pressure to create art for Grandma’s birthday card and the party starts in half an hour.
  • Let children own their art work. If you want to, join in and experiment alongside the kids. Children can teach us a thing or two about experimentation and creativity, so play alongside on your own creation.
  • Smile!

Our favourite materials:


Cut, stack, draw or crawl boxes can be anything if we are given the right tools and imagination. Our favourite things to use with boxes are:

  • Masking Tape
  • String
  • Pen
  • Craft Knife (Adult hands might need to help)
  • Scissors
  • Bamboo


Making art that you can mould, change and look at from lots of directions is a great (and less messy) way to create. We like to use:

  • Playdoh
  • Plasticine
  • Wire
  • Tinfoil
  • Cardboard
  • Sand


Discover how you can mix colours, make marks and create texture. Try using lots of materials to see what marks can be made. Remember to have plenty of clean water on hand to wash brushes.

  • Paintbrushes
  • Toothpicks
  • Droppers
  • Sponges
  • Paper straws to blow
  • Toothbrushes
  • Fingers and feet

Outdoor Art

Petone Beach and Te Awakairangi are favourite art making places for us. Explore our beautiful valley and see what materials you can find in nature that you can use to create beautiful works of art.


See art for FREE

Go on a treasure hunt and discover as many sculptures and murals in your local community as you can. Pop into The Dowse where we are always FREE and all tamariki are welcome.

Check our website to see if our Imagination Playground is available to balance, build, design and play.

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