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