Process Art In The Classroom

A staple of our classroom is art projects. We try to do 2-3 art projects a week. Each art project is tied to our current unit, theme, season, holiday, etc. Our approach to art projects is a process where the kids make their own unique art. We do not use templates, patterns, or craftivities. In the past, we did. But we’ve learned that there is a better way and we know better we do better.

What Is Our Approach To Art?

Process art is child-centered and child-driven. The outcome of process art is ALWAYS unique because the focus isn’t just the outcome but also the process. Think about when you see posts where all of the snowmen look exactly the same. That’s an outcome-driven project. Process art celebrates the unique work of each child.

What are the benefits of art?

  • more opportunities for independence and creativity
  • gain confidence
  • encouraged to use critical thinking
  • students will embrace experimentation in their work and risk-taking
  • teachers act as co-creators so we’re not leading but doing alongside the kids
  • more language development because everyone is talking and sharing
  • connecting to cultures
  • hand-eye coordination
  • fine motor skills

When do we do our art projects?

Do we have an art block in our schedule? No. So when do we find the time for art projects? To put it bluntly…we find the time. The research is overwhelming about the benefits of art in the classroom and if it’s right for kids, it’s right. So, most of our art projects are tied to what we’re learning so we can tie them to standards. Most of them take 20-30 minutes so typically we do them right at the end of our literacy block and the beginning of our intervention time. So basically we end up with about 10 minutes at the end of literacy and then we use 10-20 minutes of our 60-minute intervention block. The intervention block has a focus on language which is a major component of our art projects so it makes sense to use some of this time for conversations around art and what we’ve been learning!

How does process artwork in our classroom?

To prepare for our process art projects and to keep things as organized as possible, the only prep I do is to cut construction paper into various sizes. So, when I’m prepping for the creepy carrots project, here’s what it’s like:

  • 1 sheet of 9×12 orange construction paper per child
  • 1 half sheet of 9×12 black construction paper per child
  • 1 quarter sheet of 9×12 white construction paper per child
  • 1 half sheet of 9×12 green construction paper per child

When doing art, I model each step, one at a time, and the kids do it on their own. And yes, we let them struggle. We support them and help them but I make them work on it on their own at first!

I pass out the orange paper. I model how to draw the carrot shape. Then the kids draw the carrot shape. We cut it out. Next, I model how to draw the mouth. I explain it looks like the letter U. The kids draw the mouth and cut it out. I model where to glue it. The kids glue on the mouth. Next, I model how to make the eyes. Students do it. Then we do the teeth, the carrot top, the eyebrows, etc. I model each step. Then they do it. So when we finish, even the teacher has a finished product!

And while this is all happening, we’re talking. We’re connecting the project to a story we read, to a holiday we’ve learned about, etc. We’re discussing what comes next or what our project needs. Again, pulling in that language and vocabulary, sequencing, etc.

Finally, when we finish, we celebrate each student’s artwork and praise them for the work they did. And all artwork gets displayed for everyone to enjoy. After a week or two, it comes down and goes home!

For easy cleanup, we use baskets from Dollar Tree. I have six of these that we place around the room as the kids work. Trash goes in the baskets as we work so there’s very little mess at the end of the process art time! The kids are trained to take these baskets to the big recycling bin in the hallway! Note: if pieces are big enough to reuse, we collect them and put them in our scrap basket which the kids use during indoor recess to create art!

Another pro-tip…use glue sponges! We use glue sponges for all of our art projects!

If you’re looking for an academic resource to tie into your art projects, we suggest using our TKS Research Projects and Read It Up! creations! Both the research projects and Read It Up! creations are always “buy 1 get 1 50% off” in our TKS STORE! Click the images to grab some for your class!

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