Have you ever found a cute craft or art project on Pinterest, tried it with your child and it turned out nothing like the photograph? That project “fail” is teaching your child more than you realize. By letting your child make choices in their own artwork you are encouraging them to think and develop their own creative and critical thinking skills.
Many of our activities here at Hand Made Kids Art show step by step tutorials with photos but we do encourage creative thinking in all of our projects. Allow your child to lead the art project. It’s okay if the final art product is not similar to the photo for the project. It is the process of experimenting with new materials that is important, especially for beginning artists. You will want to introduce the materials in a safe way, but let your child have fun. Give them the freedom to experiment and learn. Allow the materials to be an open invitation to create. Open ended art making is often referred to as process art.
What is Process Art?
Process art focuses on the making of art rather than what the end product looks like. It is about the experience of making or creating the artwork. There is no wrong way to create process art.
Why is Process Art important?
Children learn through playing, asking questions and being allowed to explore their world or environment. This freedom of expression and the opportunity to make their own choices helps develop their creative and critical thinking skills. In the above photo, Lil B and M-Woww are experimenting with watercolor paint. M-Woww was amazed to discover that she had created orange by mixing red and yellow paint together. She was only 2 years old at the time of this project and on her own discovered how to mix orange!
So, I shouldn’t do crafts with my child?
No, that isn’t what I am saying at all! Personally, I love crafting! As a child, I can remember going to the library and pouring over the craft books trying to decided which project I was going to create first at home (this was way before Pinterest). What I am saying is that while doing the craft or art project with your child give them an opportunity to make decisions as the artist rather than have them only follow the step by step directions. A balance of process art projects along with crafting (but still let your child make artistic decisions) can help create a well rounded creative thinker.
But I am not an artist. How can I help my child?
Process Art does not need fancy materials or a lot of time. The best time for Lil B and M-Woww to create art is when I am cooking dinner. I have a tray of materials set out at their small play table (not the table where I will be serving dinner in a short period of time). If I am busy cooking, I make sure that the materials I have laid out are ones that they have already had experience using. This way I can cook in the same room but I don’t have to be sitting next to them. Materials such as crayons or markers work well for an independent drawing tray with my two young artists. If I am introducing a new material or one that needs more supervision I will wait until I can sit down and create side by side with them (usually Saturday mornings at our house).
In the above photo, M-Woww is drawing with a crayon in her drawing tray. I find that keeping the materials in a tray or shallow box helps keep it easy for storage and makes clean up simple too! I also provided other drawing tools such as a pen and pencil. This allows her the opportunity to explore how to make different drawing marks with different writing materials. I may ask her how the pen feels different than the crayon or ask her to describe how the lines are different with the crayon versus using the pen. For more questions on what to ask your child refer to our post, 10 Questions to Ask your Child about their Artwork.
stART sheet: A Creative Excercise
Another way to encourage creative thinking is with our stART sheet. This activity works well with preschool age and up. The stART sheet has a variety of shapes or lines to help start a drawing. Encourage your child to finish the drawing by changing the line or shape into something else. For example, changing a circle into a balloon. Let your child come up with their own idea of what to draw. There also is a creative drawing prompt at the bottom of the sheet. This prompt works well as a writing or storytelling prompt too! If you are waiting for dinner at a restaurant or waiting for a sibling to be done with soccer practice this is a great way to keep your child busy while helping develop their creative thinking. Keep a few extra copies in your purse or bag and all you need is a pen or pencil.
This post contains just a few suggestions on how to incorporate creative thinking with your child. For more information check out our post on Raising Creative Kids and Top 10 Ways to Encourage Creative Thinking.
We love when you share your artwork! Please share with us your stART drawings on Facebook or Instagram.
For more drawing ideas follow us on Pinterest.