Guidelines for Open-ended Art

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  • Never alter or 'fix' a child's work
  • Provide a wide variety of interesting materials and choices.
  • Add new materials weekly, incorporating your theme if possible.
  • Never tell a child what to create.
  • Don't ask, "What is it?" - Say "Tell me about it."
  • Ask the child if and where he/she would like his name on the art.
  • Let children explore materials.
  • Let children come up with their own ideas and use materials creatively.
  • Provide materials for 3-D and ongoing artwork projects.
  • Encourage but do not force participation.
  • Do not do models or samples for the children.
  • Throw away any colorbooks or dittos in the room.
  • All materials should be at the children's level, and accessible.
  • Playdough and the art easel should be open the majority of each day.
  • Encourage children to express feelings and personal experiences through art.
  • Display art in a variety of ways - it should not all 'match'.
  • Talk about texture, color, smell, shape, etc and the experience.
  • Let the children be as independent as possible, and encourage self-help skills and responsibility in cleaning up art.
  • Educate parents as to the value and learning in open-ended art.
  • Teach and model appropriate use and respect of materials.
  • Allow ample time for children to create and explore.
  • Incorporate books on fine art in your classroom.
  • Children should be doing their own cutting - it's okay if a circle doesn't remotely resemble a circle yet. This is how they develop these fine muscles - and makes it 'their' work and experience.
  • There is no 'right' or 'wrong' way, or end product.
  • The art area should have lots and lots of a variety of different collage materials, and always be an open, available choice for children.

© 2005 Cathy Abraham