Process Art Vs. Product Art
I was teaching at another preschool around Mother’s Day and the children were making their mom’s flower pots to give as their gifts. As I observed the project from the other side of the room where I was teaching I had noticed something that really bothered me. Each flower pot had to be made EXACTLY the same way, there was no creative process or personalization not to mention that after the children left that area to move onto another the teacher in charge of that center was “fixing” their gifts so they were just like the other ones.
That is a perfect example of “product art.” Where the project needs to look a certain way otherwise you have not done it correctly. Now don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times when children need to be able to follow directions but in my opinion art should rarely be one of them. Children can become self-conscious of their ability (or lack thereof) to make their art work look how it is supposed to which can cause defiance rather than compliance. The children who are not as capable with their fine motor skills may start acting up to try to avoid doing the project all together.
Coming back to the flower pots for a second, would it have been so bad if the children painted what they wanted to on the pots for their mothers? Or perhaps could decide to use the flower pot to make a monster for their mother instead because they knew their mom liked monsters more than flowers. Would that be so bad? As a mother I would much rather have a gift that I know my child made herself with her own creative mind than a cookie cutter gift that looked exactly like all the others.
So what is process art and why should you seek out process art activities rather than product art activities especially for younger children?
As the name suggests, process art focuses on the process of making the art rather than the outcome. You provide the materials and you let your child (or student) get lost in the experience. You can still tie this type of art into your themes if that is what you would like to do. For example if your theme is leaves and you have read the story Leaf Man, by Lois Ehlert you can set out all the materials to make a leaf man BUT if the child sees something else that they might want to make with the leaves besides what is in the book that is totally ok, it is up to them!!
What are the benefits of process art?
This type of art will naturally put your child in charge instead of always waiting for direction from you. Overtime they will learn to trust themselves instead of seeking external validation.
Children learn to trust themselves and their own ideas. They will become very proud of themselves and what they have created.
Process art can be a great learning experience. Children might need to problem solve if they have a specific plan of what they want to create. They can experiment with different materials by mixing paints, different mediums and the weight of different items they are using to create their projects. Fine and gross motor skills are also practiced here. We want to instill a love of learning at a young age and process art activities can truly do that.
There are so many benefits to process art for children of all ages. At Mini MozArts Preschool we believe in child centered learning and process art is one of the many ways we can achieve this. Have you made the switch yet in your home or classroom?
Some of my best and most memorable childhood experiences revolve around the great outdoors. Getting stuck in mud puddles and losing my rubber boots, climbing hay bales in the field at the baseball diamond while my mom played softball, camping out in our back yard and floating down the river with friends on a hot summer’s day. If you think about it aside from special holidays and events I bet most of your favorite memories also revolve around being outside. Being in nature is not only good for your physical health with the benefits of increased vitamin D and rough and tumble play but for your mental health as well.
Right now the statistics for the amount of time spent in unstructured outdoor play for children is quite alarming. In an article published by childmind.org the average American child is said to spend only 4-7 minutes of unstructured play outdoors and over 7 hours a day in front of a screen! Technology and recent global events have played a huge factor in this, along with parental fears of the dangers of playing outside. Although some of these concerns may be warranted we need to consider how the decreased time outdoors is affecting our children long term.
Studies have shown that decreased nature play can affect your child’s mental state leading to feelings of anxiety and depression later in life and children who grew up in natural surroundings that went outside daily for unstructured play have a 55 percent lower risk of developing a mental health disorder as an adult.
There are many benefits to nature play in regards to physical and mental health and here are a few of my favorites.
So how much time should your child spend outside each day? There are many schools of thought from 30 minutes to 3 hours a day but even just 5 minutes a day can instantly boost your child’s mood. If you take an average from the studies that have been published you’ll find that 45 minutes to 1 hour a day of unstructured play outdoors is the sweet spot. This is time where your child can just play and explore at a park, green space or even in your back yard if you have one. Nature walks can count as well as long as there is no agenda like going from A to B with a limited amount of time to explore. Allow time for your child to investigate and be in awe of their surroundings.
In conclusion I believe if we all prioritized more time outside for our children (and ourselves) we can reap the many mental, emotional and physical benefits and be more joyful humans.
I never used to make my own play dough. I always thought it would be way too much hassle until I discovered an easy no cook way to make it!! We like to add essentials oils, sparkles, color and sometimes dried lavender to our playdough depending on what mood we are in! The possibilities are endless and it is much more cost effective than store bought playdough.
Here is my simple - no cook - play dough recipe. Enjoy!!
- 1 cup of flour
- 1 cup of boiling water - add food coloring directly to the water if you are coloring your playdough as it makes it much easier to blend the color
- 1/3 cup of salt
- 2 TSP of cream of tarter
- 1 TBS of vegetable oil
- add a few drops of essential oils if you like scented playdough
- 1 TBS of glycerin to make it extra soft
Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until it firms up. If your playdough is too sticky add more flour a tablespoon at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.
Children should be encouraged at a young age to explore music and engage in musical activities. There are a number of benefits to enrolling your preschool age child in a music program. Music can boost your child’s confidence and mood, improve fine motor skills, help with language skills and increase overall IQ.
1. Music Can Improve Your Child’s Speech - In an article published in the Globe and Mail it states that music can improve your child’s literacy. Musical sound and speech is processed in the same way. Children who take music classes can improve their listening skills and in turn improve the way they process language. An article from The Royal Conservatory of Music also states that children with as little as 4 weeks of music instruction showed a dramatic improvement in their verbal intelligence.
2. Music Can Increase Your Child’s Creativity – If your child is anything like mine they are constantly making up songs both to play and sing or creating different rhythms and movements to go with those rhythms. That is the creative brain at work!! In an article from the Royal Conservatory of Music they state that scientists found a marked difference in communication between the right and left sides of the brain, which fosters creativity, in individuals with musical training than in those without.
3. Music Can Improve Your Child’s Fine Motor Skills – Fine motor skills are used in activities such as doing up buttons, tying shoe laces and writing. It is important to develop these skills early and music is a great way to encourage fine motor practice! Action songs that encourage the children to think about their movements, tapping to the beat with rhythm instruments and repetitive finger movement at the piano are all excellent ways to build fine motor skills.
4. Improve Working Memory – Many studies have shown that listening to classical music prior to learning something new can improve memory. There are a number of theories as to why but what most studies agree on is that there is a marked reduction in stress and a boost in mood. It is much easier to learn something new when you are in a positive stress free state.
Mini MozArts is proud to be the first music and art focused preschool in Edmonton, Alberta! At Mini Mozart it is my mission to create an inclusive nurturing environment for every child that enters through the doors where they can be encouraged to explore their personal strengths through the use of music, creativity and imaginative play.