What were your art experiences like in your early years? A fortunate few may have had access to environments where imagination and creativity were cultivated, materials offered, technique modeled, and there was freedom to engage in art making. Others may have been given messages that their art attempts were less than “good” resulting in negative self-image related to art. For example, I student who says, “I can’t draw.” Some children had experiences in which our teachers created templates for us to use, resulting in our art looking the same. This might be a tradition we have been replicating with the children. Our own experiences with art impact how we offer art experiences to children. Moving from teacher-directed craft projects to process-centered artistic expression requires intentional design and presentation.

At its core, art is the creation of new forms. Art happens when we use materials in new and purposeful ways to create something. It isn’t really art if the intention is to churn out work for families or to hang on bulletin boards (Althouse, Johnson, & Mitchell, 2003). Helping children discover their creative sensibilities and understand the use of materials within parameters can bring them joy.

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