I often place art supplies on my table for kids when they come to my home. There is instant attraction. I want them to be free to create, but also to use all 5 senses. I see the same attraction to the outdoors when they are able to play outside to freely and creatively explore.
Neurological research shows that making art can make brain neural pathways thicker and stronger. It shapes the brain and expands its capacity. This evidently happens at all ages. I have found, personally, that I am totally engaged when I am doing art. Hmmm, I'm picturing my brain expanding.
I was with a little friend of mine. I watched him play a crash-and-burn race with cars on the computer screen. His car would crash and in a split second, the car was restored and moving forward again. I noticed his shoulders raise and stiffen from the stress of making the car move fast and fluidly without running into something. The next day, I got all colors of chalk out and turned him loose on a piece of rough black paper. His body was loose and free and there was a happy feeling. It was different from when he was glued to the game on the screen. He was discovering color blending and the feel of the chalk on his hands. There was a well of creativity rising up.
Young children have 1000 trillion brain connections which are selectively pruned and these connections decrease as they get older. They get stable. All five senses are used to make these connections. It has been discovered that the senses are developed and used before birth! Children come into the world, ripe to learn. We give kids lots of experiences so their brains can be allowed to sort things out and keep what is important.
Get the art out. It is messy. But it is worth it! Better yet, go outside and be messy.