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  • Writer's pictureRachel Fell

Process-Art for Young Children

I get so excited and giddy whenever I start talking about process-art because I know how powerful it is for young children! Process-art is all about fun and exploration. Being a young child can be very hard! You have very little choice in what happens day to day- you have to go to bed at a certain time, you can’t eat all the candy you want and you can only have a certain amount of screen time. Play gives children a bit of control and choice in their lives. It is the one place where they can decide what happens and where a story will take them. These playful and creative activities help children develop independence, trust in themselves and problem-solving skills, space and materials are shared with others to develop cooperative skills-- all skills that we need as successful adults! Children are given materials and art directives and then they explore. “Mistakes” are used as pivot points to create new ideas. Trust and self-esteem are built as decisions are made through the testing of ideas. Process-art is scientifically proven to support children’s social, emotional, language, cognitive and physical development!

Product-oriented vs. Process-oriented art:

Product-oriented art:

  • Specific instructions to follow

  • There’s a right and wrong way

  • Specific finished product

  • All artwork looks the same

Process-oriented art:

  • No step-by-step instructions

  • No right and wrong way to explore and create

  • Art is unique and original

  • The focus is on the experience and exploration of materials

  • Children have more choice

A Process-Art Story

I teach art to early childhood students. We were studying Takashi Murakami flower sculptures and every child was working to create their own flowers out of model magic. First, they explored the weight of the material, how it stretched and how it felt (it felt sticky and light). Next, they started to experiment with how to build. One student wanted to make their flower stand up tall. He kept making a tall stem but it wouldn’t stay up. He began to get frustrated that it wasn’t working. After a little gentle encouragement, he continued to try and slowly started to add more model magic into the stem until finally-- it was standing up tall and holding his flower! He very proudly exclaimed, “I had a problem but I solved it!” The glee and ownership that he felt over his piece was very evident in the wide grin on his face. His grin is the magic of process-art!

Process-art examples:

  • Using different recycled materials as stamps with ink or paint to create different shapes on a page

  • Using model magic to create different colors, then using that to create a sculpture

  • Using droppers with liquid watercolors on coffee filters

  • Ripped paper collages

Lots more ideas to come!


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