Tips for talking about art with children

Not sure about how to talk about art with young children?

Help your little ones bring their own knowledge and experience to the artworks on show using these games and open-ended enquiries

Let’s play ‘I Spy’

This fun, familiar game is a great way to encourage kids to look closely at art. Keep it age-appropriate by spotting certain colours or shapes, for instance.

What do you think this artwork is made of?

This is another great way to focus the attention of young visitors. Under 5s are often very interested in the sort of materials an artist has used to make a work, and why.

Can you copy the shapes in this artwork with your body?

This is a great way to harness excited energy! Finding lots of different ways that kids can respond to artworks can help keep the experience of looking at art fun and interesting.

Tell a Story

Every piece of art tells a story. Help your child bring that story to life by imagining themselves inside the artwork. Ask loads of questions to keep their imagination going but be prepared for some creative answers!

Secret Painting

A nice one for slightly older children. Ask your child to choose an artwork in the gallery, then other players try to guess which work of art is the secret one by asking questions about it. Whoever finds the secret one first gets to choose the next one in the next room/gallery.

Do you think this artwork might be bumpy/smooth/squashy/cold/shiny/rubbery?

Under 5s love to get stuck in with their hands! Asking them to imagine and verbalise how an artwork might feel can help satisfy their urge to touch, while at the same time providing you with an opportunity to talk about why actually touching an artwork is not usually allowed.

I’ll take that one, please!

Each player chooses one piece of art in the gallery to pretend they are going to buy. They must also say where they would put the art, either within their own home or somewhere else. This can lead to interesting discussions around the decorative value, scale and practicality of an artwork. It also encourages young visitors to imagine an artwork in relation to their everyday life.

If your spirited little ones prefer to guide things themselves, why not hand them a camera or give them a sketchbook and a pencil to record what they see, think or feel?