Art & Craft Activities for Children in Hospital

by SusanM

Which art and craft activities are good gifts for children in hospital?

It can be hard picking the right art and craft activities for children in hospital. Art and craft can be a great way to keep a child busy and happy.

But you don't want anything that is too messy or is a danger to other younger kids in the hospital ward. You also need to find an activity that a child will feel like doing when they are sick in hospital.

Markers and Crayons in Hospital

Hospital can be a scary place for children. Being away from home. Feeling sick. Needing to have medical tests and things makes hospital a big experience for any child.

This means it's important to always have age appropriate art supplies and plain white paper for your child to draw with during their hospital stay. These should be within easy reach of their bed and ready for drawing at any time.

Having crayons or markers to draw with helps keep your child busy and entertained. But it also lets them express their emotions in a way that is comforting and creative. This helps make being in hospital easier for your child.

Modelling clay allows children to have a 3D art activity in hospital. This gives them something different from the 2D drawings and art activities they usually do. It gives them a new way to be creative.

Play Doh (if it's new and hasn't had a chance to get too hard yet) is easy to use if your child is feeling sick or tired. It can also be used in bed as long as there is a bedside table to play on. (Most hospital rooms will have a movable bedside table for each bed.) 

The next step up from Play Doh is Model Magic. When this dries it can be decorated with markers or items like yarn or feathers. This adds a new creative element to modelling which will work well when your child is in hospital. 

Picture: Dragonfly made with Model Magic and other Crayola supplies. 

Modelling Essentials

Model Magic
Binney & Smith Inc./Crayola

A New Material for Art Play

Scratch art is a good idea for children in hospital because it's new and interesting for them. But it doesn't need a lot of concentration or effort to be creative. This makes it a good way to distract children from being in hospital without tiring them out. 

Scratch art is also a good choice because it's suitable for children from preschool to school age. (Even teenagers would probably enjoy this because it's different.) 

Mosaic Kits with Stickers for Hospital

Mosaic kits do need some concentration but the good thing is they can be done in bits. You don't need to finish the whole picture at the one time. This means your child can work on the picture between medical tests and other needed hospital activities. They can also work on it at times when they feel well enough. 

The stickers in the mosaic kits mean you don't need glue so it's low mess. The stickers don't have the same safety problem as plastic mosaic pieces have for younger children on the ward either. They come in the "My First" version for younger kids and the standard version for older children.

Special craft kits are another way to keep your child entertained in hospital. But they also give a sense of accomplishment when your child finishes them. This is very good for your child when they can't do their normal activities like sport or school. Finishing a special craft gives them a self-esteem boost and reminds them that even though they can't do their normal activities it doesn't mean they can't be creative and successful at what they can do.

When choosing a craft kit it's best to pick one that matches their interests. This will be more enjoyable for them and mean more when it's finished. Make sure it's right for their age group too. If the craft is too hard for them to do instead of helping their feelings of success and building their self-esteem it will only add to their feelings of frustration. This will not help them to feel good about themselves. Remember too that your child's coordination or concentration might be less than what it usually is when they are sick. So buy something that will work for them while they are ill rather than what they would  normally be able to do. Finally it's best to avoid craft kits that need smelly glues or paints. Acrylic paints and PVA glues are usually the safest if they are needed. For crafts that do need glue it's best to ask the nursing staff or child life worker for some paper to put down to prevent too much mess. 

Pictured: Stick N' Style Blinglets

Coloring in isn't usually a creative activity I would suggest for your child.But when kids are sick they often don't have energy to create their own pictures. Coloring in needs less energy than drawing.

Coloring in can be a relaxing activity that keeps them happy and busy during these times too. 

So it's best to let your child have a mix of coloring books and plain paper to create art with. That way they can have the best of both worlds. 

Great Coloring Book Option

The Anti-Coloring Book series is a great alternative for coloring books. It supports the creation of ideas by giving children a part-picture to finish creatively and color in. This is good for children who don't have the energy to plan a full drawing. But it still lets them be creative. This way you can nurture your child's need just to color in during their sickness as well as their creativity. 

One tip for using this book: Each picture has a short sentence to tell your child what the picture is about and what they need to create. If you child is too young or feeling too sick or tired to read it's best to read the instruction to them. This way all their energy can go into the creative part of the activity.

More Helpful Articles

How to find books for your child and use them to help explain a trip to hospital.
Great gift ideas for children in hospital
How to pick the best gift for a preschooler in hospital

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Updated: 09/13/2012, SusanM
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