Arts and crafts help children develop and strengthen fine motor skills, spark creativity, and teach kids about the world around them, but sometimes the idea of breaking out your paint, pom-poms, and the dreaded glitter can be more anxiety-inducing than fun. Or maybe you found an adorable craft online, but the bonding time quickly descends into frustration and big feelings for everyone.
Part of this frustration may come from our expectations. Often we start a craft with a specific result in mind. This is called product art. These projects have an end goal, follow a set of instructions, and each child ends up with a similar piece of art. While there’s a time and a place for these types of crafts, some children can feel hindered or less confident trying to recreate a sample rather than producing something on their own.
Alternatively, process art is open-ended and places emphasis on the creative process rather than the end product. Imagine setting out a variety of art supplies on a table and saying “go!” You might focus on creating artwork using a certain medium or experiment with colour mixing or texture. This type of exercise can help to prevent children feeling like there is a right or wrong way to create, and it allows them to fully explore their imaginations.
Process Art and Reading
Try mixing process art with reading to help boost your child’s early literacy skills! Next time you read a book together, encourage them to create a piece of open-ended art related to the book. Here are a few ideas:
- Mouse Paint, opens a new window: A perfect book to follow up with a colour mixing session. Set out various colours for your little one to mix and let them see what new shades and colours they create!
- Tap the Magic Tree, opens a new window: Use various craft supplies to create all four seasons. Incorporating real items can make this extra special. Try going for a nature walk to see what you can find to match the different seasons in the book. Leaves and apples can make fun stamps, and pine cones or sticks can add new textures.
- Rrralph, opens a new window: Gather various odds and ends from around your home or yard, add in shapes cut out from coloured paper or scrap fabric, and ask your child to create an animal from these items!
Check out Kohl’s Enhancing Literacy Through Process Art, opens a new window for even more ideas!
Learn More About Process Art
- How Process-Focused Art Experiences Support Preschoolers, opens a new window (NAEYC)
- Process Art for Early Childhood: Resource Round-up, opens a new window (Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM)