Encouraging and fostering creativity is an important element of child development. Problem-solving, critical thinking, exploration, and inquisitiveness are just a few concepts that encourage creativity in children. Art is a great way to let children explore their creativity and self-expression. But certain forms of art, such as process art, take it just a step further.
This article explores process art in preschool including the main benefits and tips for incorporating it in your classroom.
What is process art?
There are different ways that a preschool teacher may instruct a class to make process art, but the overall purpose remains the same. Process art is art that focuses on the overall experience or process of creating something instead of focusing on making something specific, or the final product. There is typically no instruction, or there are just a few directives, and there is no predetermined creation in mind. Children are free to explore different materials and decide what they want to use and how they want to use them.
Benefits of preschool process art
Creating process art in preschool has tons of benefits because it touches on every developmental domain in a unique way. Since process art is about the overall experience, children are given more opportunities to practice different skills. There are many benefits of fostering creative development through process art. Here are a few in each developmental domain:
With no end goal in mind, children can deeply engage in what they are creating without being interrupted. This means they are learning to focus and concentrate and even extend their attention span. They also use trial-and-error, problem-solving, experimentation, and critical thinking to adjust their materials or methods as they try to create their unique vision.
Through creating their process art, children discover new ideas, questions, words, and materials. Connecting art and language encourages children to socialize with each other and express themselves in new ways. In addition, process art doubles as a pre-writing activity, growing children’s ability to use a tool to make lines and patterns.
Giving children a variety of tools to choose from encourages them to explore them all. They may pick up a paintbrush, crayon, pencil, marker, sponge, or other tool and hold it in their hand, test out using it, and adjust their hold to see what feels comfortable. Having access to any tool and any material encourages more creative and expressive use of them all, improving motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Preschool-aged children are still learning what different emotions are and how to express them. Process art gives them an uninhibited outlet for self-expression and authenticity, and for communicating any feelings or thoughts they want to let out. The experience of creating art can also be therapeutic, helping children to manage intense feelings and find strategies to self-regulate their emotions.
Process art vs product art
As their names denote, process art is about the process, and product art is about the product. For a process art activity, children are free to explore the overall experience of creating anything they want. Process art emphasizes the process of creating with no final outcome in mind.
For a product art activity, children are given instructions and tools for creating a specific result at the end. The teacher may create an example that children are meant to copy and come around periodically to help them make their piece as much like the example as possible.
Tips for incorporating process art in preschool
For a preschool teacher, much of the day requires direction to keep the children focused and engaged. Even at recess or designated play times, there may be rules or limitations. So, process art may be an adjustment for you and for your children. Using a tool like brightwheel’s Experience Curriculum can make it easier for you to incorporate process art into your classroom and help you with lesson planning to ensure that there’s a big enough block of time for it. Follow these tips to make sure children can get the full experience:
- Say “yes” to as much as possible: Children may ask you whether it’s okay to put paint and chalk on the same canvas or to tear their paper and mold it into a blob shape. Disregard any ideas about what’s “normal” and give them the freedom to do anything as long as it’s reasonable and safe.
- Provide a variety of supplies: Present children with a diverse range of materials to create their art, including lots of different tools, materials, canvases, and colors.
- Give each child as much space as possible: Within the limits of your classroom size, remind children that they aren’t limited to one piece of paper or one canvas and are free to use multiples.
- Create a joyous environment: Open a window, play fun music, or do something special to add extra energy and excitement to the classroom.
- Make a positive comment about each child’s work: Walk around the classroom and point out something unique about each child’s artwork.
- Plan for a lot of time: Ensure that children have sufficient time to explore the different art tools and materials as they experiment and create.
Process art activities for preschoolers
While the point of process art is to give children as much freedom as possible, it’s okay to give some direction to create different activities. You may offer a variety of canvases, tools, and materials, or you may offer specific ones. Try some of the process art activities below in your classroom.
For a printmaking activity, select a variety of materials, anything from blocks and bottle caps to fruits and vegetables. Children can either paint a flat surface of the material or dip the material into a jar of paint and then press it onto their canvas hard enough for the paint to transfer the image.
Set up an area or an entire table covered in paper to give children the most space and provide a wide range of colors. Allow children to use not just their fingers but their whole hand or palm to spread the paint on their canvas.
Molding with play dough or clay
Give children play dough or clay in a whole rainbow of colors so they can create big ideas. Encourage them to explore how many different shapes and structures they can build.
Collage art involves gluing different materials such as paper, felt, or yarn to paper. Give each child a canvas or piece of construction paper and lots of different materials, such as shredded paper, tissue paper, pompoms, beads, or string, that they can glue to their canvas.
Provide children with all the tools they need to color or draw a picture. You may give them an open-ended prompt such as “Draw as many things as possible that make you happy” or “Color how you are feeling today.”
Bringing process art to your preschool
Preschool is typically full of structure. Children are constantly on schedules and are given directions to follow. Process art is an engaging, impactful opportunity for them to have uninterrupted freedom of self-expression, which benefits every element of their overall development.
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