Young Children Investigate Materials



For the youngest children at school, maybe more than for anyone else, the studio is a laboratory for experimenting with materials. Whether it's "blueing a paper" or discovering that wire can be bent to look like a fish, these two and three year old children  want to know the "demand characteristics" of different media. Howard Gardner wrote about symbol systems and media in his book Art, Mind and Brain: A Cognitive Approach to Creativity :
"The fact is that symbol systems and media differ radically from one another in the nature of their elements, in the ways in which such elements are combined, in the kinds of reference of which they are capable, and in the psychological and neurological mechanisms that they invoke and evoke". These characteristics of media can also be called their "affordances". 

Discussing the drawings of two 31/2 year old children, Gardner writes: 
"The charm of children's drawings sometimes obscures the achievement they exemplify. Just twelve months before these (examples from the book) were made, neither child was constructing recognizable forms, let alone depicting events and experiences in the world. An additional year before that, the child could hardly wield a marker at all. The swiftness with which children acquire the ability to use various artistic media is a 
formidable accomplishment..."


  1. I bet the little ones are starry eyed in your studio! So much to touch and play with....

  2. Hey you have a whirly plate machine too, awesome.
    Thanks for posting the Gardner quote that takes the "cute" out of viewing children's work. I love the power of his words..."a formidable accomplishment." Certainly changes the paradigm!


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