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When I first started teaching children’s art classes I kind of didn’t know where to begin. I knew about child development. I knew about art processes. But, I didn’t really know how to create a ‘lesson’ (at least, not past mix these three colors together and let’s see what happens).
I remember kind of freaking out the first time that I taught summer art camp. During the school year the museum where I worked had some extremely solid programs that came with already-created lesson plans. I was in luck. Then the summer rolled around, and my boss handed out a ‘theme’ focus. Taking the topic and creating five days’ worth of activities for preschoolers wasn’t exactly easy. Even a decade later, it still isn’t easy.
Every time a friend or a parent comes to me with, “I just couldn’t come up with my own art activities for the kids. It’s just not something I’m good at.” I think about that very first summer. I think about how I tried (and totally failed) so many times to design thoughtful, developmentally appropriate, amazingly awesome art activities. I wanted to engage the littles, get them thinking, help them to explore art and most of all (hopefully) help them to learn a thing or two.
So, you say you want to start creating your own kids’ art activities? Whether it’s for the preschool class that you teach, your neighborhood playgroup or your own kids at home, you need to come up with your own process. For some (and I started out this way), it’s easiest to take an existing activity and make it your own. Add another few steps, swap out one material for another, change the size, add a texture, switch up the subject matter, use different colors, go from 2D to 3D or figure out some other way to make it slightly different, using the original as inspiration.
Okay, so you want to start totally from scratch. How? Well, we try to teach our kids using a hands-on approach. And, that’s what you can do – right now. Get hands-on, playing with art materials. Experiment with processes, let yourself be a kid again. Not only is this a great way to start thinking up some pretty exciting art projects, but it’s also majorly relaxing. Think about it, you get to take a break from work and stop stressing about your adult life. Playing with art (as an adult) reminds you of what it was like to be a carefree kid. So, take your time and enjoy it.
Here’s what I like to do when creating new activities…
I start with the materials. Sometimes just one or two that I want to focus on. Sometimes I spread out a buffet of materials, just to get myself thinking.
Occasionally I just sit in an open space (usually on the floor) with my favorite scrap foam core board. I use it as a mess barrier. But, now it’s so colorful it kind of inspires me.
If I’m planning on a paint project I start mixing colors.
Or, if I want to use another material, I just start exploring. I might spread some clay out on paper.
Tear up paper.
Pour out some glitter and glue.
Or, start mixing it all together.
Admittedly, the result makes much more of a process-oriented activity. Keep in mind, even process activities can be ‘planned’. This doesn’t mean that you direct the activity, just that you set up the framework. Doing the activity first (yourself) is extremely helpful. It helps you to help your child, and you can check out the process first to make sure that it actually works.
Are you looking for a few starter ideas? Check out our Pinterest board on process art for a few!Follow Mini Monets and Mommies's board Process Art for Kids on Pinterest.