by Pam Pittenger, Turtle Class Co-Lead Teacher
This week, teachers at The School of Grace have been busy setting up our displays for the annual Young Artists’ Exhibit, informally known as the art show. For weeks, our students, from the youngest child in the Turtle class to the oldest child in the Monkey class, have been happily busy creating process-focused art projects for the exhibit. All of the classes have participated together in creating a mural. A reception on Sunday, May 5, at 12:15 pm, is the culmination of all our work. Everyone, parents and children of the preschool, members of Grace Lutheran Church where our preschool is located, friends, and community, is invited to join together to celebrate our preschoolers’ art!
What is process-focused art? In process-focused art, our children are provided with art materials and then the child decides how they want to explore the materials, what they want to create, and, to an extent, even how long they want to spend on their art work before moving on to a second piece, or on to a different activity. For example, a teacher might provide paper and two colors of paint and a paintbrush.
The dialogue in the Turtle class might go like this:
Teacher: Here is your paper. I am going to write your name on the paper and flip it over [so the name is on the back]. Here is blue paint and yellow paint. Which color do you want first?
Child: [Says or indicates blue.]
Teacher: Here is a brush, you can put the brush in the blue paint and put the blue paint on your paper.
Child: [Takes the brush, dabs it in the blue paint, then starts dabbing and swiping it on the paper.]
Teacher: You took the brush. You put the brush in the blue paint. Then you went “boop,” “boop,” “boop” and “swoosh” on the paper! [When the child is finished with the brush or with the blue paint, the child gives brush back to the teacher.]
Teacher: Do you want the yellow paint now?
Child: [may say no and be finished, or indicate yes]
If the child says yes, the dialogue continues with the teacher providing description of what the child is doing, while the child makes choices about where the paint goes, how much paint, how the paint is applied, and when the project is finished.
Whatever the project is, the finished product is completely the child’s own creation. No two children’s art work, even if it with the same materials, will be the same. Each piece reflects the child’s own interest and choices. When all the displays, and our mural, are complete, it is a glorious celebration of colors, projects, and materials, but especially a celebration of our students and each one’s amazing personality.
If you want to read more about process-focused art, you may want to start with the article, “How Process-Focused Art Experiences Support Preschoolers” from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.