At the beginning of a new school year, kindergarten, first and second graders spend several art classes exploring what they can do with different art tools.

I give them a few materials at a time and ask lots of questions such as:

  • What can you make that is strong and sturdy?
  • How many different ways can you use these tools?
  • How many different kinds of lines and textures can you make with the paintbrush?

Much like scientists, I want students to conduct experiments in art. I want them to discover the large variety of ways that theycan use tools and materials, and share their findings with each other.

At first some students ask,

“What are we supposed to make?”

But they soon discover that the task was not to make anything in particular – rather to explore and learn new things about using the materials. This kind of experimental approach to making art allows children to “learn by doing” and sets the stage for creative problem solving in future works of art.

kindergarten brushwork experiments