Happy October! This is one of my favorite months of the year. Just gimme all the hot apple cider and teacher-y cardigans. It’s also time for my favorite preschool theme: PUMPKINS.
You know I love process art, and I’m always looking for unique tools to paint with or use as stamps! (Read about why my preschoolers don’t do “crafts” here.) We recently painted some pumpkins with LEGOS!
I gave the students two shades of orange to choose from by adding white paint to the orange. I also provided different sizes of Legos for them to choose from. Tip: In the pictures here, you can see they’re just holding one Lego, but I recommend stacking two together. That’s what we did on Day 2 of this craft, and the children were much less likely to get paint on their fingers.
While they were painting, we talked about how the Legos made circles on the paper. They noticed some blocks made 4 dots, and other blocks made 8! Some of the kids used their Legos like stamps to make circles, but some of my preschoolers slid their Legos across the paper to make swirly lines. It’s so important to let them explore different methods of painting & stamping! There was no “right” way to paint with Legos.
These were so fun to make, and it’s such a simple fall art activity to set up! My preschoolers are already asking if we can paint with Legos again.
My preschoolers don’t do crafts. You know those cutesy little crafts you see on Pinterest with the popsicle sticks and the googly eyes where everyone’s art is just perfect and looks exactly the same? The ones where the parents are just delighted at how “adorable” it is? Yeah, we don’t do those.
Instead, when you look around my classroom, you’ll find meaningful process art activities in which the children were given the freedom to make decisions about their own artwork. Process art is any kind of art activity in which the focus is on what the child learns during the art experience, rather than the end product. It’s all about the exploration of the tools and materials used to create. There’s no “I CAN’T!” or “HELP ME!” Instead, I see kids smiling and laughing and saying, “Can I make another one?”
Rather than following a sample and creating something just like their friend’s art beside them, they are given open-ended art activities where there’s no right or wrong way to do it. The end results are not all the same.
So, when you’re planning your activities for the week, how do you determine if an art activity you found on Pinterest is a craft or process art? Check out the list below!
CHARACTERISTICS OF PROCESS ART:
Process art is child-led.
There’s no sample to follow.
There are no complicated, step-by-step instructions.
There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to create!
The activity is open-ended. (They’re done when they decide they’re done; not when the steps are finished.)
The focus is on the learning process and the exploration of the tools used to create.
Everyone’s art isn’t the same.
The teacher is not very involved.
Process art doesn’t take much prep work
The child can say “I made this by myself”
Children aren’t rushed to complete their art.
Teachers don’t fix “mistakes” or make suggestions.
They might work on a new skill in the process! (e.g. painting with a cotton ball on a clothespin enhances fine motor skills)
HOW TO FIND PROCESS ART ACTIVITIES
First of all, let it go. Accept that sometimes process art isn’t pretty, and that the parents might not understand it (at first.) This mentality will open you up to a new world of possibilities. Seriously–enjoy it, and your students will too!
Change the way you search. Type “preschool process art” instead of “preschool crafts.”
Use what you have! Find tools and supplies in your classroom and ask yourself, “Hmm, could we dip that in paint?” The answer is yes. Yes you can.
Let them choose! Set out different materials and let them show you what they can do with them.
Use items from nature like pinecones, sticks, leaves, grass, etc.
CAN THERE BE EXCEPTIONS?
Of course! If you think my preschoolers don’t make cutesy crafts a couple times a year for Mother’s Day and Christmas, you’re wrong! Yes, I break my own rules sometimes. But when 98% of the work my students do in the art center is process art, I feel confident that they’re truly learning something and exploring their creativity without too much interference from me.
HOW DO I LET PARENTS & OTHER TEACHERS KNOW ABOUT PROCESS ART?
First and foremost, make sure it’s in your preschool parent handbook.
Talk to parents about process art during your meet-the-teacher night or open house events.
Take pictures of the activity and hang them out in the hallway next to the artwork. Let the parents (and staff) see what the creation process was like.
Download these posters & printables about process art and hang them in the classroom, especially where children’s artwork is displayed. If you are a director or lead teacher, some of these pages are really helpful in staff training!
Good luck with all of your process art endeavors! Like I said above, enjoy it! It’s so fun to create with materials you never would have associated with art, like potato mashers or bubble wrap. I love to sit in the art center and create some crazy abstract art right alongside my students. :)
This post contains a couple affiliate links, meaning I could get a small kickback if you click them.
I used to really struggle with figuring out what to put in my literacy center. Paper, writing utensils… okay, then what? Over the years, I’ve figured out which literacy materials will draw my students there, and I’ve learned which tools are there favorites. For my preschoolers, both the Pre-K group and the younger threes, the dry erase tools are a classroom favorite.
This year, I decide to organize my dry erase materials by corralling them in a caddy. Children can grab it from the shelf, and pick out the marker and dry erase strips they want to use. This week, I have my monster pre-writing strips in the caddy. (I switch them out every week to keep them interested! Here’s a link to all of the pre-writing materials in my shop!)
I like to keep pre-writing materials available at all times, because many of my students are just learning to correctly hold a writing utensil. They can practice tracing repetitive strokes, and on the sentence strips (which you can see at the very back) they can free write on the other sides, which are blank. When they come to the literacy center and grab this caddy, they’re improving their fine motor skills and building up their hand strength. Those skills need to be in place before they can hold a pencil and write their name!
In this photo, you can see a couple of erasers for the kids to use. They work pretty well, but the dry erase strips are still pretty streaky at the end of the day… but I’ve learned a Magic Eraser does wonders! I cut them in half to make them last longer. I’ve also provided a selection of dry erase markers. I prefer Expo markers–not only because they last longer, but because they’re fat and easier for preschoolers to hold. We were also gifted these Crayola dry erase markers, which the children really like… they’re just not my favorite. I guess I’m just an Expo snob?
These caddies are similar to the one I have, and you can get a pack of 6 of them from Amazon here.
(Note: This post contains affiliate ads, which means I might get a small kickback if you click on the links below. Thanks!)
Halloween is hands-down my favorite holiday, and my preschoolers can probably sense my excitement when I’m reading a good Halloween book! I’ve discovered some new ones (new to me, that is) this year, and they’re perfect for preschoolers–not just because of their length, but because they’re not too scary. I make sure Halloween is fun and silly, and reading goofy Halloween books about black cats or green monsters helps!
I compiled a list of some Halloween books that my preschoolers have loved this year, or in years past. Onto the list!
From Amazon: “It’s Halloween, and Splat is determined to be the scariest cat in the class. Unfortunately, he’s just too much of a scaredy-cat. He’s afraid of a little spider, and everyone says his costume looks more silly than scary. And when Mrs. Wimpydimple tells a ghost story in the dark, Splat gets so frightened that he tips over his jack-o’-lantern. But when the lights go back on, the entire class is scared silly by a small, black, furry creature with a big pumpkin head. Whooooo can it be?”
From Amazon: “The witch and her cat are happily flying through the sky on a broomstick when the wind picks up and blows away the witch’s hat, then her bow, and then her wand! Luckily, three helpful animals find the missing items, and all they want in return is a ride on the broom. But is there room on the broom for so many friends? And when disaster strikes, will they be able to save the witch from a hungry dragon?”
From Amazon: “THE SPOOKY WHEELS ON THE BUS is a humorous Halloween-themed version of the classic song THE WHEELS ON THE BUS…with a few ghoulish tricks and treats up its sleeves! Count from One Spooky Bus up to Ten Goofy Ghosts as this Halloween ride races through town picking up a few unsuspecting passengers along the way.”
From Amazon: “What won’t this old lady swallow? This time around, a bat, an owl, a cat, a ghost, a goblin, some bones, and a wizard are all on the menu! This Halloween-themed twist on the classic “little old lady” books will delight and entertain all brave readers who dare to read it!”
From Amazon: “Caldecott Award-winning author-artist Ed Emberley has created an ingenious way for children to chase away their nighttime fears. Kids can turn the pages of this die-cut book and watch the Big Green Monster grow. Then, when they’re ready to show him who’s in charge, they’ll turn the remaining pages and watch him disappear! This lavish reissue features dramatic die-cut eyes and sparkling foil on the cover.”
From Amazon: “Pete loves Halloween and candy but not so much scary surprises. Follow Pete as he goes trick-or-treating from house to house and discover what is waiting behind each door. With over ten flaps that open to reveal fun spooky surprises, this book is spooktacular!”
From Amazon: “A brand-new monster twist on a classic song by Caldecott Medalist Ed Emberley and his daughter, Rebecca Emberley. Children will stomp their paws, twitch their tails, snort and growl, and wiggle and wriggle along with this bright and bold picture book twist on If You’re Happy and You Know It. “
From Amazon: “The witch has grown the biggest pumpkin ever, and now she wants to make herself a pumpkin pie for Halloween. But the pumpkin is so big she can’t get it off the vine. It’s so big the ghost can’t move it, either. Neither can the vampire, nor the mummy. It looks as if there’ll be no pumpkin pie for Halloween, until along comes the bat with an idea to save the day. How can the tiny bat succeed where bigger and strong spooky creatures have failed? You’ll be surprised!”
More Halloween Resources: