Open Ended Art

Today’s guest post is perfect for what I often call “Free Art Friday” .  As often as we do crafts in my house I also offer plenty of “free” or “open ended” art for my son. It’s so important and should outweigh the structured crafts by far. My son has open access to a bunch of materials but if you are unsure how to start here is a great post by Shannon of Mommies Little Artist .
What is Open Ended Art?

In our house we do Open Ended Art and some have never heard of it or are not sure what it is or where to begin. Open Ended Art is simple and every kid can do it. Set up a art center in your house whether it is big or small just designate an area in your home (one that you don’t mind a mess; ours is in the kitchen so i can mop the floor if needed). Set out the supplies and keep the supplies replenished so they create when ever they want.

Our Art Center is stocked weekly with the supplies to create : one week we might do say: Shades of A Color (say blue for example): I would stock the Art Center with Shades of Blue Paint, Paper, Markers, Pencils and Crayons. It would stay stocked like that for the whole week, they created what ever they wanted so it was Open Ended.
I host a weekly Linky Meme called Open Ended Art where moms get to let their children create a wonderful piece of art, link up to my blog and we can all see and explore how their children used the materials and mediums provided. We also feature a artist a month; last month was Henri Matisse, December’s is Hans Hoffman.
Some of our favorite Open Ended Art:
Shades of Blue Painting:
Henri Matisse:
Pumpkin Decorating:

So how can you have Open Ended Art in your home:

1. Provide New materials weekly

2. Its ideal to leave them out so they can go to it and create whenever they want (with puffy paint that isn’t possible! but with our other themes it will be)

3. Do Not Alter or Fix your child’s artwork (so it should look like a child did it)

4. Don’t Ask what is this? or say Is this?

5. Is about the Process NOT the Product

6. There is no Right or Wrong way

7. Never Tell them what to create

8. Do not have a sample or model of what you want them to create

9. Let them be as independent as possible

10. Let them come up with their own ideas on how to create with the art materials provided.

Thank you Shannon and all the readers who have sent in guest post. I am so pleased by the community that No Time For Flash Cards has become and am amazed by how well you have stepped in when I needed you!  Thank you !

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  1. Angell says

    Hi Allie,

    My son LOVES your little “music videos” (lol) and sings a lot of those songs.

    I know you are big into books and reading to your son…by any chance have you ever thought about reading books on video and posting them just like the songs?

    Do you know of any websites/blogs/youtube,etc that reads to kids?


  2. says

    Thanks for your blog, it’s such an inspiration, especially on the days I don’t feel like being “the Mom”.
    I love the idea of open ended art. I am a very craft person myself and I keep scraps available or ask my little ones if they want to try “felt” or “glitter” without saying what I expect them to do with it. My older child (5y) often has plenty of ideas and only needs me to help gather the supplies and assign a work place. My mom, an early childhood educator, taught me to ask, “Tell me about this” and NOT (What’s this?) and to comment on color, vibrancy, etc. if I had no idea “what” it might be. My older daughter once answered “What’s this?” with, “Duh, a painting”.

  3. says

    I wholeheartedly agree that kids should be encouraged to do their own thing! And agree with Shannon that it’s our job to provide them with open-ended resources that can spark their imagination. I’ve a post on my blog with some ideas about other things you might include in your craft box, and how to store them

    Will be visiting Shannon’s site too – thanks for the link to her.

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