Thirteen different ways for children to discover and plan their own creative ideas


All art starts with an idea or intention. An idea is something you have in mind to do, or a plan of action. It may be very simple and immediate, or planned over time. Sometimes, it can be a long time. Children can be supported in finding their own ideas from preschool on. The following are ways to help children to discover their own interests, ideas, and preferences for making art. Use them all at various times, and for various reasons, to build a repertoire of ways they can use to confidently and effortlessly approach their work. The responsibility for original ideas and self-directed production of artwork is encouraged early. Over time, the role of the teacher becomes more and more of a support system for students rather than an originator of work and ideas.

The three year old and the thirty-three year old are both presented with the same challenges when faced with a blank two dimensional surface, a full palette of colors, and a selection of brushes. Art springs from the human mind, heart, imagination, and ingenuity. Therefore, trust your children. Even a famous artist’s early attempts at pushing the limits to find new ways of expressing look humble by comparison to her/his mature work (e.g. Calder’s very early mobiles).

Note: A group of children are able to plan an idea that may be beyond your abilities, and you may need to seek help from other adults to make it happen. Enjoy the stretch.