Art may no longer be a high priority in most schools, but according to Edutopia, it should be. The organization, founded by George Lucas himself (yes, of Star Wars fame) and by the George Lucas Educational Foundation, places a high priority on teaching the arts to promote learning in every area—from math to science to literature. Incorporating the arts into everyday curricula is called "arts integration," and multiple research studies support the value and benefit to both students and teachers. In particular, arts-integrated lesson plans builds communication and collaboration bridges, encourages risk-taking in a healthy way, enhances confidence, promotes learning and adds joy to life.

Whether your child's school curriculum offers a healthy enough helping of arts education, these apps will certainly deliver when it comes to encouraging creativity and self-expression in healthy, affirming ways.

 1. Doodle Buddy

Ages: 2+

Doodle Buddy is a hit with kids and parents. The fingerpainting-style app allows kids to create with nothing more than their drawing finger, and undo what they've done just by shaking the screen. The drawing feature is paired with a stamp tool and fun sounds to encourage creativity and engagement. The free version comes with sponsors (a.k.a. ads), but parents don’t report these as intrusive.

2. How to Draw

Ages: 6+

How to Draw is a great, free, learning tool that teaches basic sketching, composition and more. The app is great for both visual and spatial learners. Drawing options include many pictures—from cartoons to cars to people to dragons—to appeal to kids of all ages (and some adults as well). Each drawing is taught by outlining a series of steps that are easy to follow. You can even save your creations and share using social media.

3. Design It! Fashion & Makeover

Ages: 10+

For girls (and guys) who like fashion and style, it doesn't get better than this free fashion-design app! You can choose from four characters who all need stylish clothes to wear. The app is comprehensive—once the outfit is complete, the characters then need the appropriate makeup and accessories to complete their ensemble. You can choose from more than 200 clothing styles and nearly as many hairstyles, accessories and makeup options.

4. Kids Paint Free

Ages: 4+

Kids Paint Free has earned kudos from AppConsumer, BriefMobile and others, but by far the biggest accolades come from kids and their parents. This app is equipped with a great selection of colors and brush sizes, and you can also upload your own external images to use for backgrounds. The finished product is fun, colorful and also eminently shareable.

5. Colorbook Free

Ages: 5-8

Colorbook Free is an innovative app that marries lessons in photography, color, shading and art together in one coloring-book-style app. You can upload family photos, recolor and reshade them with lots of styles to select from.

6. Vehicle Fun!

Ages: 4+

This is a great app for budding car enthusiasts! With more than 50 vehicles, 150 scenes to color and draw with, as well as decorative options—from finger painting, to stickers, to mix and match and puzzle games, kids stay engaged for hours. The only drawback is that the free version doesn’t include all options.

7. Picturizr

Ages: 5+

Picturizr is a cartoon-style app that teaches resizing and spatial orientation among other creative tools. The app uses cartoon avatars with a Photoshop-like interface that lets kids assemble customized faces and edit them to their heart's content. This app does a great job of giving budding cartoonists a head start.

8. Bamboo Paper

Ages: 12+

Bamboo Paper is a digital drawing app that allows users of all ages to choose the ideal journal paper style for their preferences. You can choose from four styles including sub-options for paper type and texture. There are six different options for ink styles as well as options to add photos from external sources and extra details. You can also export and share the finished products via social media.

9. HandPaint

Ages: 10+

HandPaint facilitates drawing with a number of helps, including brushes, pens, pencils, erasers, markers and even a camera to save your work. Some of the art examples on the iOS page are exemplary! There’s also a "page curl" feature to let you turn over to a fresh piece of paper without losing previous efforts. As a digital canvas, HandPaint is a great tool to encourage budding freestyle artists.

 

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