How do students develop in their understanding of the Studio Habits of Mind?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the Studio Habits of Mind and how students’ understanding of these thinking dispositions might develop throughout their years in our primary school visual art classroom. I’ve been asking myself questions like, “What might envision look like in kindergarten? In grade three? In grade five?” How does a learner’s mindset grow through stretch and explore? For example, stretch and explore in kindergarten might sound like, “I can try different ways to make art.” By grade five, it might sound like, “I can start to make intentional choices about how I want to take my art making further.” 

In my curriculum planning, I’m mapping out how I imagine students might progress in their understanding of the Studio Habits from one year level to the next (see PDF below). To create the mapping, I’ve used my own observations of students and my specific curriculum. For example in grade two, I know that we are planning an integrated project with the homeroom teachers and this project will involve a lot of student collaboration. Therefore, I expect this project to support students in the “communities” domain of understand art worlds and how people connect through collaboration. I’ve mapped that into grade two. 

Students within the same grade level will have varying depths of (and constantly changing) understanding regarding these thinking dispositions. The purpose of the mapping is to be more intentional in my lesson planning, demonstrations and reflections, using specific language to name the learning and to have an idea of where we might be going next in our understanding. 

I thought I would share my thoughts so far in the process. Thank you for taking a look. Comments, questions and feedback are welcome and helpful! 

If you’re not very familiar with the Studio Habits of Mind, I highly recommend:

Hetland, L., Winner, E., Veenema, S., & Sheridan, K.M. (2013). Studio Thinking 2: The real benefits of visual arts education. New York: Teachers College Press

Hogan, J., Hetland, L., Jaquith, D.B., Winner, E., (2018). Studio Thinking from the Start: The K-8 Art Educator’s Handbook. New York: Teachers College Press

The Studio Thinking website:
The Studio Thinking Project:

Author: Ron

Ron teaches Visual Arts to students in the early years through grade five. In his practice, he uses innovative approaches to foster agency in the students through a choice-based model that encourages creative thinking routines and supports student voice. Additionally, he works closely with teachers to develop arts integration and creative thinking across the primary curriculum. Ron is passionate about supporting creative thinking in the educational environment for all subject areas. He follows current literature on the topic and attends innovative workshops and conferences. Ron has previously worked as a Visual Arts teacher, homeroom teacher and university lecturer.

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