Welcome Artists

Help your students work and think like artists using the Bridges model
Settings and cat puppets drawn with colored pencils.

Why Bridges for artists?

At the core of Bridges is a belief in the power of learning through an artistic process. This belief has been activated in a rich library of approaches and activities valuable to beginning and veteran arts educators across artforms.

A student with extreme focus vigorously squeezes a bottle of glue that drips onto the headdress mask she is working on at her desk.

Bring the artistic process to young children

Through Bridges, children learn to work and think like artists as they imagine, experiment, problem-solve, collaborate, self-reflect and revise.
Two students draw at their desks while a student in between them looks out contemplatively with her pencil pressed against her mouth.

Agency for children

Classroom power dynamics are shifted when children develop agency in their artistic choice making, and discover their own way of working.
Students sit around a table in their classroom and practice manipulating strips of paper.

A studio environment

An environment is created, free of judgment and competition, in which a community of artists can converse about artmaking using rich language.
Violin teacher sits in a circle with her students in a classroom.

Adaptable to all artforms

The Bridges model was created using puppetry arts- theater, visual arts and physical/vocal expression- but the approach applies to any artform.

Using this website

Bridges can impact your teaching to be more child-centered, process-oriented, and support children to work and think like artists. The website offers both big picture approaches and targeted activities.

A diagram web with the word

Activity & Tool Library

Find activities to try in your classroom or arts residency. Use resource filters to target artforms, content areas, skills, and more. Visit the
Bridges Activity Library
  • https://www.youtube.com/embed/KGFjuqE2ypw

    Big Ideas! 3 Bridges Model

    Find the big ideas and tools to evolve your teaching, expand your imagination and skills for reaching your goals for children.

Artist Entry Points

What kind of space are you trying to create in your classroom? How are you building your teaching artistry?  Find Bridges resources to support your development!

  • Three students crowd around one paper as they collaborate on drawing a setting with colored pencils.
    I want to make stronger connections between my own artistic practice and my teaching

    Use our artistic process tools to help you pass on more of the artistic process and agency you know deeply to your students. Watch the videos below to hear about the experience of visual and music artists and how they apply Bridges in their artform.

  • https://www.youtube.com/embed/dApC7IIf5M4

    Sharing process-based work

    Donna Maria DeCreeft describes how Bridges helps her share more of the process-based work she does as an artist with students.
  • https://www.youtube.com/embed/Cb1w7Z8sBFk

    Telling stories through music

    Rima Fand describes how she was able to pass on to students a process for “telling stories wordlessly through music” out of the Bridges work.
  • Teaching artist gestures with one arm raised in front of a classroom of students who copy him.
    I want to find new ways for children to explore the artistic medium

    Introduce artistic tools that develop children’s skills while building a personal relationship to the medium.

  • Three students seated at a table look at, point to and discuss one of their drawings.
    I want to create an environment where children speak as artists

    Describing kids’ work is something I’ve taken with me… to respectfully acknowledge the work of all children. It frees us from vague, often dishonest statements like “I love it! It’s so creative!” that do not build capacity, and impart to children that their goal is to please us, rather than to value their own ideas (Ron Sopyla)

  • Two students play with their puppets at their desk. One acts surprised as the other's lion puppet attacks her puppets.
    I want to hand power over to my students

    Children are free to make their own artistic choices, and are in charge of their own process.  Find tools to engage and respect children as artists, not novices, from the start of any lesson and in each phase of their process.

  • Student seated at table looks at his puppet face that he has made using lots of different shapes that crowd the face in an unrecognizable way.
    I want to advocate for kids’ work to reflect their vision, not adult expectations

    Though there is often pressure for children’s artwork to have a certain look, use the language on this website to clarify the focus on learning an artist’s work process to advocate for a focus on authentic expression, rather than a product that adults have imagined in advance.

  • Kindergartner admires the puppet head she made with a sad face and big eyelashes.
    I want to help children work with emotions

    Check out the Character Emotions/My Emotions activity series which explores emotions as an inspiration for artistic work.  On the Working with Emotions page find:  language and tips to help students learn from the frustration moments inherent in artistic process; information on making space for emotionally charged content when it arises in the classroom.

  • Two teachers leading a classroom of students acting out digging with a shovel as part of a story
    I want to give teachers an active role in my residencies:

    Use these tools to build your teacher partner’s observation skills and understanding of the priorities of artistic process work. They build a common language between you, and provide a meaty structure that offers teachers professional development in artistic working and thinking while you teach.



  • Group of educators talking around a table about the observations made during Bridges research.
    I want to explain the connections between arts and literacy to teachers and administrators

    Find resources that speak to school literacy-based perspectives on Bridges. You can share pdfs and webpages, or pick up some language that comes from Bridges teachers.

  • https://www.youtube.com/embed/0tMoHFkrmhI
    Advocacy example: Why should physical expression be integrated into how kids learn in school?

    Kirsten Kammermeyer is a Bridges teaching artist who went on to become a theater arts specialist in a public school in Queens. In this video, she and Bridges curriculum specialist Erin Orr talk about what physical expression offers young learners and how integrating it into classroom routines can help both kids and teachers!