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Process Art Projects for Outdoor Learning and Play

Aug 07, 2020    |   Art & MusicOutdoor & Sensory Play

Warm temperatures and sunshine make summer and fall ideal seasons for enjoying outdoor activities with young children. The timing is right, as many of us are rearranging our classroom curriculum to keep children safe and engaged in learning.

Art projects are a perfect outdoor activity, with less worry about mess and an opportunity for children to engage with nature in a different way. In this article, we share a list of process art projects that children can enjoy outdoors while maintaining a safe, social distance from their peers.

What is Process Art?

Process art focuses on the child’s creative experience and process.  Process art projects are open-ended meaning that there is no specific end goal in mind, and no samples or step-by-step instructions for children to follow.  Instead, teachers invite children to work with tools and techniques as a means of exploration, rather than with the intention of creating a specific final product. Most important, process art experiences are fun opportunities for creativity and learning.

For more information about process art and how these projects inspire creativity, check out G2K’s previous article, How Process Art and Open-Ended Experiences Inspire Creativity

Ideas for Process Art Projects

Reggio Inspired Nature Mirror Painting

Image from Meri Cherry

This activity is an open-ended invitation to paint on mirrors as they catch the reflection of all of the nature outside. Using paints, brushes, mirrors, and natural materials (leaves, sticks, rocks, etc.), this activity provides a unique opportunity for children to create, while interacting with nature in ways that they might not have experienced before. This activity is easy to set up and offers lots of possibilities for creativity.

For more information about how to set up this activity from Meri Cherry and information about the materials, click here.

Image from Craft, Learn, Play

This wearable project only requires two things: masking tape and natural materials (such as flowers and leaves). Children can go for a walk outside to collect their own nature items, or you can set up this activity by collecting them beforehand. Help children get the masking tape on their wrist (sticky side up), and then allow them to stick on different items to create a beautiful and colorful bracelet.

Click here for more details about how to set up this project from Craft, Learn, Play.

Nature Smash Painting

No paint? No problem! Nature has lots of natural colors that can be transformed into paint. Children can use flowers, fruit, leaves, rocks, or any other items that are available in your yard to make marks on paper. The final product will be a beautiful, natural work of art. Children can use their hands, or they can take off their shoes and socks to smash with their feet for a unique sensory experience.

Click here to visit the No Time for Flashcards website to find more details and ideas about how to set this project up.

*Another fun way for children to enjoy this project is to allow them to use small, child-friendly hammers to bang and smash the flowers to add different patterns to their projects.

Nature Faces: Self-Portrait Art

Image from Happy Hooligans

This activity requires minimal prep and only three items (that you likely already have on hand): recycled cardboard, glue, and found natural materials.

Start by encouraging children to take a nature walk outside to collect their materials. They will use the items they find to make their own self-portraits.

 As a note, because cardboard can be tough to cut, especially if it’s heavier, it might be too tricky for small fingers. Older children who are more comfortable with scissors might be able to cut their own ovals, but you will need to prep the cut-out cardboard for younger children.

Click here to find more detailed instructions for setting up this activity.

You can find more ideas for self-portrait ideas for little learners in the Good2Know article, Self-Portrait Art Projects for Preschoolers.

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