I am lucky enough to run a couple of children's art clubs. An art club is a weekly event where we put out poster paints, brushes and lots of other materials and children just come along and make and do whatever they want with it. It's free to the children and the costs of materials is low. They are run as after school events and are to provide the children with something fun to do.
The first rule of Art Club is that there are no real rules - you can make or create whatever you can - the only limit is imagination. No one is required to produce anything particular - last time I asked them to make a specific thing I got told by one seven year old that 'this is art club not school'.
The only informal rules are that they do not pour more paint than they need and I try to gently discourage large installations involving lots of materials which are abandoned soon after completion. I rarely need to remind the children to avoid doing these things and the children also remind each other.
It is a very popular and the children - who average around 7 years of age - keep coming back and nag their parents to make sure they get taken to Art Club.
I have stopped advertising it since word of mouth now does all the advertising and I need to keep numbers down to around 20 children.
There are rarely any behaviour problems only once or twice - over the last couple of years - have I warned anyone about behaviour. They come along and make stuff - they simply get on with it.
I put on some music and there is a computer with which they can search the internet for images and ideas and for music. Obviously the use of the computer is managed to make sure it is done safely - but there are rarely problems. One Direction and Olly Murs are by far their favourite musicians.
The children are from several different cultures - South Asian, Eastern European, Nepalese amongst others. Art or creating stuff is truly universal - the language of the world.
Making sure the room used is easily cleanable is important - getting used to glitter is a fact of life. Glitter and glitter glue and anything else sparkly are popular 'mediums'. Glitter gets everywhere and appears to spread like a contagion and has to be managed but I would not want to deprive them of at least some glitter. I can't imagine how all the great masters managed without pouring generous amounts of glitter on their major works - certainly the children take that view with their stuff.
So the formula is - put out lots of cheap materials in a cleanable room - let the children do what they want with the stuff within the bounds of safety and not damaging things. Add some music and make it so the parents can stay or leave the children there - leaving the children is a popular option.
The price the parents pay is trying to look pleased when their little artist presents them with several art works to take home. It is amusing to watch their expressions but it makes the kids happy! To be fair I try not to encourage them to take too much home but it is an amusing sport seeing the reactions.
I would recommend this formula for anyone wanting to give this age group something to do. I have no talent for art I should add - but then I don't need it - the children do all that.Suggest a correction