Art provides enriching experiences for children in your classroom. It captivates their imagination, boosts creativity and motor skills, builds self-esteem, and is honestly just an all-around positive experience for students.
There are two common art philosophies in education, known as process art and product art. Process art refers to projects and experiences that focus on creating and experimenting–the art process–not on the finished product. In process art, children have a choice in their art; it is entirely unique to them.
U-GRO Learning Centres’ teachers utilize process art to promote individuality, develop self-confidence, and reinforce STEAM concepts. Read on to learn more about what process art looks like in an early childhood classroom. Plus, get ideas for process-based art activities you can utilize in your classroom.
What Does Process Art Look Like?
Students enjoy the journey instead of focusing on the destination when engaging in process art. The more they can think and decide for themselves, the more likely they are to enjoy the experience and take pride in their work.
Additionally, process art provides other benefits to young learners:
- Motivation: Children get excited about their art project because it’s fun and unique to them.
- Self-esteem: There is no right, wrong or competition. The point is personal expression.
- Cognitive and problem-solving skills: Instead of copying a pattern, children decide what they want to create and figure out how to make it.
- STEAM learning: Process art provides endless opportunities for open-ended sensory experiences that reinforce STEAM learning goals.
Product and process-based art activities provide very different experiences. Product-focused projects often look like this:
- The teacher requests that students draw a giraffe to support learning the letter G.
- Children are given a picture to color or trace to practice fine motor skills.
- Children are praised on how well they followed instructions.
Alternatively, teachers take a step back during process art activities to allow students to explore, create, and take things in their own direction. They facilitate rather than teach. Process art resembles these characteristics:
- The teacher gives students instructions that they will be painting with brushes and bubble wrap.
- The teacher gives each child the opportunity to decide to participate or not.
- Children receive a brush and bubble wrap and can choose the colors and patterns they make to create their artwork.
- Children share their original artwork/creation with their friends and let them know what their painting is.
Process-Based Art Activities for ECE Teachers
Remember, as the teacher, your job is to encourage and facilitate during these open-ended art activities. Ask questions as children create like, “What can you tell me about your picture? How does this picture make you feel?”
If children are having trouble finding inspiration, an easy way to get the ball rolling is to ask a question, like, “What do you think we can do with this object? What does this remind you of?” Importantly, use questions as a guide to help children make their own choices.
Play some energetic music, smile, and laugh, and encourage children throughout the art experience. Here are some fun process art activities you can implement in your classroom!
Whether you provide options for materials or have students look for items, you want a huge pile of age-appropriate items to paint with, like leaves, feathers, sponges or another material that supports your lesson plan or theme for the week. Let children choose which supplies they want to paint with. After that, break out the tempera and art paper and let children go to town.
Clay is a favorite for preschoolers, simply because of the way it feels. Let children play around with it for a while before introducing the idea of creating animals, objects, or shapes. Even when you do this, let them create what inspires them. Ask students to show one another their final product. As a teacher, you’ll be amazed at their one-of-a-kind creations.
The more beads, colors, and shapes you have, the better this project will be. You can even swap out the beads for buttons, or mix in all different kinds of materials! Show children how to put beads – preferably with large holes – onto some silicone stretch string.
This activity may be better for preschoolers since beads are a choking hazard. Children should always be supervised when using them. Swap out beads for pool noodles for a creative take on this activity for younger children.
As a teacher, you’ll love seeing children develop confidence and self-esteem as they create and experiment through process art. Read more of our blog to learn about other ways to encourage these skills in your classroom. In addition, our proprietary Blended Model curriculum supports discovery and flexibility to allow children to develop social-emotional skills and learn through their own experiences.