If you have a child who loves to draw, or is interested in any kind of visual art, finding him books in that subject area might be just the ticket to encourage him to read. Art is also a great way in to writing. Kids can express their mood or feelings through art, and perhaps go on to use words in the form of poetry or even a word collage, to add another layer to their work.
From the NGA Kid's page, Brushster is an online painting machine. There are over 40 different brush strokes, as well as special effects. Kids can save their paintings, or print them out. There's even a slideshow of paintings to show what Brushster can do. As a follow up, find some reference books at the library and compare your efforts with other abstract artists.
Have a look around the NGA Kid's Page. There are all sorts of other visual activities like Collage Machine, and Photo Op - an introduction to digital photography and image editing. There's a lovely story to read about two kids who visit a sculpture garden, and a Dutch Dollhouse to interact with. Because I loved Rousseau's art when I was a student, my favourite was the Jungle, where you can choose from all sorts of animals and plants to create a jungle scene like mine above.
A real life visit to your local Art Gallery, or Sculpture Garden can make your kids aware of the thousands of different ways humans express themselves. Encourage them to talk about what they observe, and record their impressions through their medium of choice. And as a followup, use one of the activities at NGA Kid's Page as yet another form of self-expression, or just for fun. We're only young once!
Book Chook Update: Stop by smarthistory for some more great art information. They just won a Webby for best education site (May 09). Wonderful!