TIP #52: The 8 Studio Habits of Mind for Kids

TIP #52 The 8 Studio Habits of Mind for Kids

A student doesn’t need to pursue an art career to benefit from learning the 8 Studio Habits of Mind. These habits extend well beyond the arts and apply across all grade levels and instructional settings. 

The Studio Habits of Mind were first identified by researchers with Harvard University’s “Project Zero” in the early 2000s. They describe eight things students are taught in order to learn to think like artists.  

This thinking is essential to the arts and is best taught and learned in studio classrooms. These 8 habits merge theory with practice and support learning across a range of disciplines.  

While the habits are numbered, they are non-hierarchical and don’t need to be taught in any particular order.  

Consider how you might utilize each of these concepts in your own classroom. You’re likely doing some of these things already without even realizing it. But having them in the front of your mind ensures that none will be overlooked! 

What are the 8 Studio Habits of Mind?

1. Develop Craft

Technique: Learning to use tools (e.g. viewfinders, brushes) and materials (e.g. charcoal, paint); Learning artistic conventions (e.g. perspective, color mixing); Studio Practice: Learning to care for tools, materials, and space 

2. Engage & Persist 

Learning to embrace problems of relevance within the art world and/or of personal importance, to develop focus and other mental states conducive to working and persevering at art tasks 

3. Envision 

Learning to picture mentally what cannot be directly observed and imagine possible next steps in making a piece  

4. Express 

Learning to create works that convey an idea, a feeling, or a personal meaning 

5. Observe

Learning to attend to visual contexts more closely than ordinary “looking” requires, and thereby to see things that otherwise might not be seen  

6. Reflect

Question and explain: Learning to think and talk with others about an aspect of one’s work or working process

Evaluate: Learning to judge one’s own work and working process, and the work of others in relation to standards of the field 

7. Stretch & Explore 

Learning to reach beyond one’s capacities, to explore playfully without a preconceived plan, and to embrace the opportunity to learn from mistakes and accidents 

8. Understand Art Worlds

Domain: Learning about art history and current practice

Communities: Learning to interact as an artist with other artists (i.e., in classrooms, in local arts organizations, and across the art field) and within the broader society 

To sum it up…

The 8 Studio Habits of Mind are relevant for kids from Kindergarten through High School, and even beyond. Use this vocabulary to engage your students as they grow in their ability to think like artists! 

Click here for a free printable pdf of the 8 Studio Habits of Mind from Harvard’s “Project Zero”. You can download a printable 8 Studio Habits of Mind poster set (also free) from the Art of Education.

For more on the Studio Habits of Mind, the following books (affiliate links) offer an in-depth discussion, especially helpful for arts advocacy: Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education (2007);  Studio Thinking 2: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education (2013); and Studio Thinking from the Start: The K-8 Art Educator’s Handbook (2018).

an inspiring quote:

“What I do every day matters more than what I do once in a while.”  ~ Daniel Pink

This quote illustrates the power of consistency and habit. Doing something great occasionally is wonderful and worth celebrating, but it’s our students’ daily habits that really move them forward.

a question worth considering:

Which of the “8 Studio Habits of Mind” do your students need to spend more time focusing on?