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. :)

Easiest Ever DIY Snow for Sensory Play

In the last week before Christmas break, my preschoolers were getting antsy… and usually when this happens, I know it’s time to pull out some kind of new sensory activity. In the spirit of Christmas, they helped me make this super simple DIY fake snow to play with.

The easiest DIY snow recipe for sensory play!

This DIY snow is literally just two ingredients:

3 cups baking soda

1/2 cup WHITE hair conditioner

I emphasize white, because when I made this the first time at home with my son, the conditioner had a yellow tint. And well, you know, no one likes yellow snow. So definitely grab some cheap white conditioner from the dollar store.

The easiest DIY snow recipe for sensory play!

My favorite thing about this DIY snow recipe is how it makes our hands so soft, and it makes them smell good, too! It’s really hard to resist joining the kids in playing with it. It’s really easy to mold into different shapes. They had fun making snowballs, snowmen, and more. Later we threw in some cookie cutters and let them make prints in the snow.

DIY snow is perfect for those winter days when it’s too cold to actually go outside!

Halloween Books for Preschool

Halloween Books for Preschoolers

(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!

1. Scaredy Cat Splat! by Rob Scotton

Halloween books for preschoolers

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?”

2. Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson

Halloween books for preschoolers

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?”

3. The Spooky Wheels on the Bus by J. Elizabeth Mills

Halloween books for preschoolers by Every Little Adventure

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.”

4. There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat by Lucille Colandro

Halloween books for preschoolers

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!”

5. Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberly

Halloween books for preschoolers

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.”

6. Pete The Cat: Trick or Pete by Kimberley & James Dean

Halloween books for preschoolers

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!”

7. If You’re a Monster and You Know It by Rebecca & Ed Emberley

Halloween books for preschoolers

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. “

8. Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman

Halloween Books for Preschoolers

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!”

 

Halloween Books for Preschool

More Halloween Resources:

 

Apple pie oats sensory bin

September Sensory Bin – Apple Theme

Hello everyone! Happy September! We just started fresh with new materials in our sensory table for the month. In August, my sensory bin filler was shredded paper–and I switched out the tools periodically to keep the kids interested. September’s sensory table has a new filler: oats!

Apple pie oats sensory bin

We are starting out with an apple theme for the month of September, so I found some craft apples at Joann’s. I also added pie tins, measuring cups, and measuring spoons to the oats for the children to pretend to make pies. Today was their first day playing with it, and EVERYBODY wanted to be at the sensory table all day long! The kids all had fun scooping and pouring the oats into the pie pins and pretending to serve their friends and teachers. I observed them counting apples as they played, and proclaiming themselves as “the piemaker.”  They enjoyed it so much that one of the pie tins got really squished. Oops! Thankfully, I have more.

apples sensory bin

These are the apples I bought from JoAnn Fabrics–so many uses! 

I would have added cinnamon sticks if it weren’t for a cinnamon allergy in my class. I don’t want an allergic reaction! A fellow preschool teacher in one of my teaching groups suggested adding beige/tan felt to be the “tops” of the pies–which I cannot wait to add! As the weeks go on, we will probably add different materials to the oats. Later this month, I might take the apples out and add pinecones, craft leaves, or other materials for an autumn sensory bin.

 

Looking for more apple ideas?

I have tons of apple theme resources for you!

preschool apple theme - fine motor strips

Add these Apple Pre-Writing Fine Motor strips to your apple theme lesson plans!

Check out my Apple Activities Bundle on TPT here.

Oh and by the way… DO YOU LIKE FREEBIES? Get the Apple Number Puzzles  just by signing up for my newsletter!