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Creative Minds Out of School

The Curriculum

The Creative Minds curriculum offers students art experiences designed to build confidence in self-expression, support individual growth and foster innovation through exploration.

The Creative Minds curriculum is designed to foster each child’s confidence in his or her own creative abilities and respect for the creative abilities of others. Each of the units sets forth an investigative, exploratory approach to encountering artists’ tools, materials and ways of thinking. Each lesson is developed to be easily used by educators, regardless of their previous art experience.

Cover art from the Creative Minds Out of School Time curriculum book

  1. Start with the Art

    Each lesson begins by taking a close look at a work or works of art in a Massachusetts museum. Through quotes from artists and guided discussions, children acquire and use descriptive language and come to understand what it means to think and work as an artist.

  2. Explore and Create

    Through art making, students engage with a variety of materials and approaches to creating. Students learn to work and think as artists – often linking their knowledge to in-school competencies.

  3. Share and Reflect

    Through sharing ideas and possibilities, young artists come to respect the work of other classmates as well as that of other artists and cultures. When young artists explain their work, share intentions, or point out interesting qualities they observe in a classmate’s work, they are engaging their analytical thinking skills and increasing their vocabulary. Creative Minds Out of School allows you to create an environment that builds each young artist’s confidence in his or her own creative abilities, and at the same time fosters respect for the creative abilities of others.  Working in this way naturally builds 21st century skills of innovation, critical thinking, communication, presentation, and creativity.

  4. Present – Culminating Activity

    With each unit culminating in a group activity that evolves naturally through the Creative Minds process, this curriculum goes beyond viewing and making art and suggests many opportunities to engage parents and school-community partners in building a community supportive of youth and their Creative Minds.

What’s Inside

The Creative Minds curriculum offers three units of eight lessons each. Each lesson is a two-page spread including vibrant art images, a Prepare section, a Teach section and a section with possible Extensions and Variations.

Table of Contents pages for Creative Minds Out of SchoolWhat Others Are Saying

“The children absolutely love this curriculum. They look forward to it every week and I would definitely use this program again.”

“My favorite part of the curriculum was letting the children just be creative. They came up with pieces of artwork that I would have never been able to think of and it really amazed me.”

“Within the Creative Minds Curriculum, elementary students are introduced to the basic elements of design used by an artist when creating a work of art (color, line, shape, form, texture and space).  The curriculum facilitates students to learn not only art principles such as movement and proportion, it also helps students express themselves by means of multiple art mediums. Creative Minds lessons, suggested extensions, and connection with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) makes it a must-have teaching tool for all elementary teachers.  It offers a wealth of knowledge and fun!”

About the Author

Creative Minds Out of School is written by Cathy Weisman Topal, a visual arts educator at the pre-school, elementary, middle school and college levels for over twenty-five years. She is currently a studio art teacher at the Center for Early Childhood Education and the Smith College Campus School at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She is also a lecturer in Visual Arts Education in the Department of Education and Child Study at Smith College. Cathy is the author of six books that have grown from her explorations and exchanges with children, classroom teachers and in-service and pre-service teachers across the country. Inquiries about workshops can be sent to

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