Using Open-Ended Materials

“To a young child, the world is full of materials to touch, discover and explore. To find, collect, sort and use materials is to embark on a special kind of adventure. For adults, gathering materials means rediscovering the richness and beauty in natural, unexpected and recyclable objects that are all around us, but not often noticed.


One way to rediscover our own creative impulses is to see possibilities in materials. Children possess a natural openness to the potential of materials.

When adults become aware of this process, they find ways to watch and listen to children. Children and adults become collaborators as they discover, collect, sort, arrange, experiment, create, construct and think with materials. The goal is to allow children to become fluent with materials – as if materials were a language.”

– Topal, C. and Gandini, L. Beautiful Stuff! Learning with Found Materials.
Introductory page. 1999. Davis Publications: Worchester, Massachusetts.


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