Children's art work has often been the subject of study by researchers seeking to gain insight into the role of art making in children's learning and development. However, rarely are children's own explanations of their art making used to inform these studies. Children's perceptions of their own art making are important for research and practice in art education, because their artistic experiences and motivations determine how they will engage in and respond to art making activities. This study used ethnographic methods to learn about the art making that took place over the course of one year in an elementary school art room, and to gain insight into the students' experiences and perceptions of art-making activity. Data were analysed using a socio-cultural framework. By asking children why they made art and exploring children's own explanations of their art making, this study reveals some of the important intentions that children bring to their artistic activity, and some of the ways that children make meaning through art making.