Open-Ended Art Activities are not a free for all. There is freedom within a set structure. When setting up Open-Ended Art Projects instead of thinking about the product that will be made, we are thinking about the inherent qualities of the materials, how they tap into our senses and emotions, how they encourage children to investigate the world, to understand and to communicate who they are. Rather than all making the same project, children are introduced to specific materials and learn to to create their own artwork exploring the different properties and possibilities. Open-ended art activities provide the experience of exploring and experimenting without the burden of doing it “right” or making it look like the model.
Children become active learners through this creative process. Open-Ended Art Activities teach children to think for themselves and to trust their own imaginative ideas. They are solving open-ended problems through this process of exploration and discovery. Open- Ended Art Activities offer the possibility for trial and error, and even failure. This process improves resiliency. Children keep trying, maintain optimism and perseverance even when the first attempt doesn’t work.Through the process of Open-Ended Art Activities children learn to take risks and to engage in divergent thinking and innovative problem solving. As we cultivate their creativity we focus on process over product. We learn to celebrate even a brown mushy painting!
Most people agree that creativity is crucial for overall well-being. But why? Creativity and finding a creative passion is linked to big ideas like happiness, optimism, resilience. It is linked to the capacity to solve life’s problems as well as to find joy in pursuing a passion. As we look to the skills that our children will need in the future, creativity is often cited as one of – if not the most – important skill for future success. And Creativity is a skill, not an inborn talent, so it can be learned and developed! When children are given the freedom to be creative, their capacity for creativity increases. The more children are given open-ended questions or problems to solve, the more capable they are of arriving at creative solutions. Our job is to support creativity, to honor it, to help children to develop creativity – so that they can see possibilities, be mindful, optimistic, empathic, open minded, innovative, passionate, happy people.
There is much to gain through the intentional use of materials and a focus on the creative process. The arts benefit development of sensory, attentional, cognitive, emotional, and motor capacities. These capacities lay the foundation for all other learning. Open-Ended Art Activities help children to develop their self esteem; they can also figure out what they are passionate about, what interests them, or who they are. The arts enable children to experience success and to gain confidence.They can communicate and express what they may not be able to verbalize. As we observe children making art, we see that they process life’s events in this way. The arts can make visible children’s thinking. Children build empathy and interpersonal understanding as they experience the limitless possibilities that can come out of materials and the many ways individuals may process the same idea in different media. Working with art materials, side by side other children, enables a child to practice respecting a space with others, sharing materials and sharing ideas, collaborating, and asking for what is needed.