Home    |   Playful Learning Activities   |   Art & Music   |   Enjoying the Process: Creative Expression with Young Children of All Ages

Enjoying the Process: Creative Expression with Young Children of All Ages

child's hands at art table

While we spend a lot of our time focusing on what we can teach the children in our care, it is also important to think about what we can learn from them. Children are full of wonderful ideas, especially when it comes to creativity and artistic expression. They are naturally inclined to enjoy the process of making and creating, rather than focusing on what their final product looks like. These open-ended experiences can be introduced to early learners of all ages, from infants to pre-k.

In this article, we explore creative expression in young children, and describe a variety of process art activities that you can try with the children in your program.

Learning From Children

Art therapist Amy Maricle, in an article for Tinkerlab, explains, “Kids naturally know a lot about how to use art to manage their feelings. They let their anger, fears, and uncertainties speak through song, dance, storytelling, and drawing. Until they reach a certain age, they aren’t concerned about making ‘art,’ or whether or not it’s ‘good.’ We could learn a lot from them!” As you watch the children in your care create, think about the many things that you can learn from them. Notice the joy that they find in making new things, and think about what kinds of skills they are learning through their own natural interest in exploration, imagination, and creativity.

Enjoying the “Process”

Process art embraces the natural interests of children by embracing creative expression and focusing on the process rather than the product. Process art projects are open-ended, meaning that there is no specific end goal.

Meri Cherry, an art teacher, author of the Process Art Handbook, and founder of Meri Cherry Art Studio, explains: “Process art doesn’t mean there isn’t an amazing product at the end. There very well could be. It just means that’s not really the point. We’re trying to get kids and their adults to find value in making and doing, where they are making decisions, taking risks, thinking outside the box, taking their time, working with challenges, cultivating connection, and building empathy. Those things are the point.”

Open-Ended Projects for Children of All Ages

As children get older, you can begin to introduce more materials and textures to the art projects in your classroom. The following activities are great opportunities for learning, exploring, and creating with children of all ages!

Multi-Stage Process Art

A multi-stage process art activity is a great option for children of all ages. Toddlers and young preschoolers who are especially interested in textures and colors will love the way that this project allows them to enjoy a variety of sensory experiences, all in one activity. Older preschoolers and children in pre-k will love the fact that multi-stage process art is a type of project-based learning that allows them to revisit things they have already created and come up with new ways to add fresh ideas and elements to their creation.

process art children's hands
big canvas children's art

Another great thing about this project is that it’s an opportunity to utilize a lot of small bits and pieces of extra art materials that you have leftover from previous activities! Children start the project by applying a background color to a large canvas. Every day they revisit the canvas and are encouraged to add new elements, such as string, beads, glitter, stickers, googly eyes, or other 3-D elements! You can select materials based on what you have available, and what feels safe and appropriate for the ages of children in your care. This project can be done as a group activity, in which the children work together on one large canvas, or it can be done individually, with each child working on a small, individual canvas.

Click here to find more information about setting up this activity.

Paper Sculptures

Paper sculptures are another fun art project that you can do with children of all ages.  Additionally, they are a great way to use small pieces of leftover paper that you might have saved in your art supplies.

For this simple activity, you need a base, such as art paper or even recycled pieces of cardboard. This project is also best done with tape (or stickers, if that’s what you have available), rather than glue to keep the structures in place. Working with tape also helps children to practice important fine motor skills.

Click here to find more detailed information about setting up this activity.

paper sculptures
Tags:   art & music , mixed ages
Related Articles & Posts

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This