This paper reports research in progress and outlines a mapping system that can be used to classify the nature of children’s classroom talk about the meaning of artworks. A combination of aesthetic and psychological linguistic theories is used in the study. This framework provides a logical space within which children’s talk about the meaning and value of portrait paintings can be located. The focus of the study is on the nature of children’s reasoning and how this can involve shifts from naïve accounts to more reflective statements about judgements of value in art education, thus indicating the developmental nature of children’s theory of mind. By asking two groups of children, one mid primary school, the other early secondary school age to choose artworks for an exhibition of paintings and provide reasons for their curatorial selections and judgements we are able to understand more about how a theory of critical meaning develops and is manifest in comments about the world children experience. An understanding of the nature of children’s theories about the function of artworks has significance for the development of appropriate pedagogical explanations of critical practice in art education.