My son is 2.2 years and art at our home is mostly about open-ended exploration with various mediums like crayons, pencil colors, water colors, tempera paints, sketch pens, ice paints etc.
At the end of an engrossed art session, my toddler calls me to his art desk & tell me, mumma, see I made a sun. Mumma, see this is road & car, this is a house.
And the art work never looks like that particular object, of course because he is just 2.2 years right now. But what I am happy about is the way he is continuing to express himself on the paper, with no adult prompts, totally motivated on his own.
There are so many of his art works now that I have no idea how to store them ;)
Last night he did this painting while I was browsing through facebook on my bed.
Usually, he calls me to show his artwork when he is done, but last night he suddenly got up from his chair & ran away from the room. I asked him what happened? He said with a mischevious smile, mumma, I made an anaconda, he is going to bite me! I laughed out so loud on this :) Then he teasingly said, mumma, this is just a toy anaconda, it will not bite me!
I was so surprised & amused with this episode that I decided to write this entire blog post on open-ended art for toddlers! Hope this is useful for you too.
What Does An Open-Ended Art Activity Mean?
Here is a checklist to know if what you are doing with your child is open-ended or not -
- Variety of art supplies are there for the child to choose from & there are no direct instructions to choose one or more
- The supplies are kept at a reachable place for the toddler, the furniture is child-sized so that the toddler can help himself when he wants to practice art
- The place where the child would practice art is accessible, well maintained & clean
- There is no end product or sample to follow, the child is free to express with the art supplies
- There are no step-by-step instructions
- The emphasis is on the process of making the art & not the final product, there is no right or wrong way to create an artwork
- The end product may or may not look like some creature or something really
- The child decides the time & duration when he wants to do the art, there is no arts-time in the time-table
How Does An Open-Ended Art Exercise Help Toddlers?
- Fosters independence & responsibility while they freely use the materials & take care of them
- Enhances their power of expression while they use their little hands to reflect themselves on to a piece of paper
- Enhances intrinsic motivation because there is no one to tell them when & what to paint. Going forward in life, it is very important to have that intrinsic motivation to succeed
- Boosts their creativity
- The process of making such art relaxes them, it is therapeutic
- Kids feel accomplished when they make something they want to make themselves, it boosts their self-esteem
- It improves their planning, problem-solving & comprehension skills as they try to create something on paper that they have in mind, they choose the art medium, colors, shapes all by themselves
- It enhances their fine motor skills of course!
How To Encourage?
I have set up a small arts corner at my place where he can work on his art projects independently & whenever he wants to. Sometimes the masterpieces are done in the mornings, sometimes evenings & sometimes at midnight too. This is so Montessori inspired! The prepared environment for the child.
Here is a sneak peek into my toddler's art corner. I have used whatever I had at home, no fancy easels or boards. It is super budget friendly. You can take some ideas to set up something similar with what you already have at home.
I would love to hear from you all & see pictures of your child's art spaces!
Disclaimer: All photographs in this article are original and belong to the author. Reproducing them in any form without the permission of the author will not be allowed.
Also read: A Colorful Spring Morning!
Explore the entire collection of articles: Early Learning & Brain Development