Kinetic art involves the use of movement or motion. Kids can create their own kinetic art projects using a variety of processes and materials that move and sway with the wind, can be twisted and turned, or display the forces of physics such as gravity. Parents and educators can use these projects with children to combine and reinforce basic art, scientific and mathematical concepts in different grade levels.
There are many different types of kinetic art projects available for kids to try. One of the most well-known, and easiest to create, is the mobile. These freely moving sculptures typically include individual items that are strung to different points on a dowel or rod with yarn or a similar line. Kids can create mobiles featuring almost any topic or content idea from dangling butterflies to abstract shape combinations. Other types of kinetic art may include sculptures that rotate on a rod, clay structures that can hang and spin, or any other type of masterpiece that you can push, pull or let the elements take hold of.
Choose materials that easily lend themselves to a motion-filled art project. Kinetic art moves with the wind, gravitational pull or by your own push. Bulky, heavy materials are more likely to stay stationary than sway and twirl. Instead, use lightweight items such as paper, fabric or tissue. If your kinetic art project requires a clay-type material, opt for a less heavy modeling compound or sculpt a thin layer of regular modeling clay over the top of a wire, mesh or paper armature. Additionally, you will need items to hang your art from such as sticks, wooden dowels, rods and string/yarn.
Choosing a Project
Select the type of kinetic art project based on the child's age, developmental level and interests. You may also have to factor in an assigned subject, class topic or school theme. Younger kids in preschool or the early elementary years may find mobile making easier than other forms of kinetic art. Encourage kids in this age bracket to explore new art materials while focusing on a meaningful subject such as favorite animals or best-liked colors. Older children and teens may also still enjoy mobiles, needing to create a more advanced version that tests scientific principles or is modeled after a famous work of art. Additionally, older kids can tackle more elaborate kinetic art such as motion-filled sculptures.
Tie any child's kinetic art project activity to other content areas for an added learning experience. Although creating art simply for art's sake is in itself enough, the clever parent or teacher can link the art making to other subjects such as math, science or history. Create an art and math lesson by asking the child to measure specific parts of a mobile, discuss the scale of a movable sculpture, explore geometric shapes, or design a symmetrical work. Add in science by exploring the physics of motion or learning about weather patterns while planning a mobile outdoors. Stretch the learning to history or social studies by conducting some background research on famous kinetic artists or movable art in other cultures.
Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.