Art provides imaginative space for children, PCCY’s Picasso Project shows the way

Public Citizens for Children and Youth’s Picasso Project rounds up excellent art projects for your wee ones and children of all ages in their downloadable art ed at home toolkit.

Child painting at a table at home.
Rose working on art projects at home, Photo by Desiree Guinn.

“Without art, my daughter would be going nuts right now.”.

Rose, is a first-grade student in South Philadelphia, her mom, Desiree Guinn, has found that art projects offer an important outlet to “so much screen-related schoolwork” that Rose must complete.

Many schools provide guidance for home schooling in reading, writing, and arithmetic. What is often missing is the opportunity for personal expression, stress release, and peer connection that kids need, and that are fundamental to the arts.

Maria Hernandez is another parent who has discovered the importance of art for her and her nine-year-old daughter, Itzel. “She draws every day… In her drawings, she expresses what she feels!”

Child drawing with chalk on the sidewalk
Itzel working on art projects at home, Photo by Maria Hernandez.

The closing of schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic has forced parents and children to struggle with more time together than they ever had before. Knowing how to use that time productively and peacefully is often a struggle.

The Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) Picasso Project offers numerous solutions through its online Arts Education at Home Guide. The Guide is a wide-ranging arts resource available for download at

The curated selection of free arts education resources — from Philadelphia and elsewhere — listed by discipline including visual arts, music, dance/movement, and theater/poetry, and features more than a dozen visual arts listings. Many virtual field trips are available including visits to outstanding museums all over the world from the Guggenheim in New York to the Musee d’Orsay in Paris to the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, Korea.

If your kids get virtual museum feet at the thought of looking around a museum, there are hands-on projects. Numerous local arts organization offer suggestions for projects that can be adapted to fit the age the child. The Fabric Workshop and Museum offers multiple projects with guidance online or through downloadable PDF’s. One project teaches children how to make collages by transferring images from almost any printed source. Using nothing more sophisticated than a bowl of water, clear packaging tape, newspapers or magazines, scissors, and paper, young artists can create a world of unique imagery.

Artwork in the window by Rose.
Animal-themed artwork on display in the front window of the Guinn residence in South Philly.

Because the guide draws heavily on, there are many sites that you will find (or trip over) when you drill down. There is a video tour of the space shuttle Discovery and the answer to the question that every kid wants to ask “how do you go to the bathroom in space?”

If that is not the mystery you want answered, maybe finding the answers to the “8 Unsolved mysteries of Machu Picchu” would fit more comfortably in a home schooling session.

There seems to be something for everyone in the guide regardless of age, interest, or ability to draw a circle. In the Dance/Movement section, there is a listing for Dance Party Games. While parties are not happening during the lockdown, families with more than one child or young-at-heart parents could entice kids off the couch and get some exercise doing movement games.

One of the Dance Party Games has the first participant execute a favorite dance move. The second participant then must mimic that move and then add their own move. The game continues with each player mimicking what has gone before and adding a move of their own. The game ends when nobody can duplicate what has gone before.

The Music listings include a calendar of streaming music especially for children. Maybe the pandemic is the perfect time to learn ukulele or guitar. There are sources for free music lessons. The Chrome Music Lab says it “makes learning music more accessible through fun, hands-on experiments.”

Susie holding up her artwork at home.
South Philadelphia kindergartener Susie proudly holds up artwork that she created with her mom. The project was inspired by #OnePhillyArt, which is highlighted in the Arts Ed At Home Toolkit. Photo courtesy of PCCY Picasso Project, with permission.