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Art is an essential aspect of early childhood education experiences. Here we share some information on how to make the most of your art activities in order to maximize learning and development.

The main way to provide art activities that are developmentally appropriate and beneficial for early childhood education is to implement process-based art. Process-based art is simply defined as art that focuses on the actual experience and process of creation itself rather than the final product or outcome. This means that the art does not necessarily have to look great in the end, it is all about the experience of making the art that matters. Process-based projects are often sensory, open-ended, and exploratory.

Features of Process-Based Art

  • No strict instructions
  • No sample to follow
  • No right or wrong way to create
  • Focused on experience, exploration, and creativity
  • Child-directed
  • Open-ended
  • Varied and different processes and outcomes

The natural opposite of process-based art is product-based art, which focuses on the final outcome of an art project. Attention is paid to creating something that looks like a particular design or sample, all projects look relatively the same, and there is a clear set of instructions for the creation.

Features of Product-Based Art

  • Children are meant to follow instructions
  • Sample to copy
  • Right and wrong way to proceed
  • The finished project is already established before starting
  • All finished products look the same
  • More teacher involvement at each step

Although there may be a time and a place for product-based art projects, process-based art is the main way in which children can get the most out of their art experiences and learn to truly love creating. Open-ended art activities allow children to direct their learning.

Tips for Implementing Process-Based Art

  • Have art available and accessible as an option to children during free play. Set up stations with playdough, clay, watercolours, and more, and let children create as they wish
  • Approach art like open-ended play, provide a variety of materials and let children create
  • Let children come and go from their art as they choose, have open time limits on creative projects
  • Make space for children to share their ideas, and say yes to these ideas wherever possible, support their creative endeavors
  • Play music while children create
  • Make art outdoors
  • Have illustrated books readily available in your library so that children are exposed to art and can look for inspiration or ideas

Incorporating process-based art is not just fun for children, but also helps with their social/emotional, literacy, cognitive, and fine motor development.



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