Friends School of Minnesota kindergarteners have weekly art class. This fall, we have been focusing on tools and processes using a variety of materials. During each class, I give them a “provocation” or question to focus on while they work. Some of the provocations they have explored:

  • What happens when I use water to mix materials? Which materials blend together and which materials stay put?
  • What new forms can you make with paper?
  • What new forms can you make with wire?
  • How can you use materials (such as wire, beads, and sticks) to make something strong and sturdy?
  • What can I do with different brushes?
  • What can I use as a tool to shape clay? What can I do with the tools?
  • What tools can I use to create texture and patterns on clay?


The aim of the provocations is to instill a sense of experimentation in the children’s art-making. Like scientists, they are encouraged to form hypotheses, discover what will happen, reflect upon, and share their discoveries with their classmates. I present a variety of techniques as options but it is amazing to see what they come up with themselves! The pride  they feel when a discovery is made fuels further invention and innovation in later projects. p1030378 The kindergarten art curriculum is evolving alongside what is happening the classroom, so the students feel a sense of connection between art and everyday life. Soon, we will be applying much of what they have discovered to more finished products such as wind chimes made out of clay, beads, and wire; clay relief sculptures of special places; a community mural; and paper masks for a class play.