Fall Art Activity: Lego-Painted Pumpkins

Happy October! This is one of my favorite months of the year. Just gimme all the hot apple cider and teacher-y cardigans.

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!

Fall Craft: Lego-Painted Pumpkins

Supplies Needed:

  • Pumpkin Template on Cardstock (easy to find on Google)
  • Lego Duplo blocks (you can use smaller Legos, but these were perfect!)
  • Orange & brown paint

I gave the students two shades of orange to choose from by adding white paint to the orange. 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.

Fall craft: Lego-painted pumpkins

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.

Fall craft: Lego-painted pumpkins

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.

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https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Pumpkin-Activities-Bundle-Preschool-4080564 

 

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Why My Preschoolers Don’t Do Crafts

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)

 

Process art or craft?

 

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!

 

Preschool process art

Grab this free poster here!

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. :)

Dry Erase Caddy for the Preschool Literacy Center

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!)

Dry erase caddy for the preschool literacy center

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? 

 

Caddies for preschool literacy center

 These caddies are similar to the one I have, and you can get a pack of 6 of them from Amazon here.

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Dry Erase Caddy for Preschool Literacy Center. A great way to organize your dry erase materials in the literacy center.

Preschool Dinosaur Theme Activities & Freebie

I love, love, love doing a dinosaur theme with my preschoolers. I feel like dinosaurs are universally loved by all four-year-olds. Right? And I’d be lying if I didn’t say I didn’t go through a Dr. Ellie Sattler (Jurassic Park) phase. (Actually, I’m not entirely sure I grew out of it. She kicks butt.)

One of our favorite dinosaur theme process art activities is painting with the toy dinosaurs’ feet! My preschoolers loved dipping the dinosaurs onto paper plates of paint and then making them “walk” across the papers. To prevent any color-mixing confusion, I matched the paint to the dinosaur’s colors. This helped them remember to put them back in the right spot.

They had fun comparing the dinosaur’s different footprints. Some of their footprints just looked like blobs, whereas others had cute little dino toes. I loved watching them use their imaginations, making the dinosaurs come to life.

We also had a lot of fun with these Dinosaur Number puzzles. Before putting them out on the math center table, we did this together as a circle time pocket chart game. I put the numbered cards (1-10) in my pocket chart and passed out a dinosaur card to each student. When I called their number, they came forward and put their dino card in the right slot. They really enjoyed this game; I love playing interactive games like this at circle time because giving them something to hold reminds them to keep their hands on their laps. :)

You can download the Dinosaur Number puzzles here.

And here’s a fun dinosaur theme literacy activity! Send you students on a dino hunt in the sensory bin. As they pick out a dino letter card, they take a dry erase marker and trace the letter on the recording sheet. (The recording sheet was printed on cardstock and laminated so students can write on it with dry erase markers and easily erase it when they’re finished.)  This resource also comes with numbers 1-10 and a corresponding number recording sheet!

Download the ‘We’re Going on a Dino Hunt’ printable here!

We had a dinosaur shirt day, too. This was after I noticed that he majority of my kids had dinosaur shirts already! I asked all of the parents to send their child in a dinosaur shirt if they had one, but if not, not to worry–everybody would get one of these cool dinosaur necklaces!

Grab the Dinosaur Necklace FREEBIE here!

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Dinosaur Theme Activities