As the new school year starts, I'm trying something a little different for storytime. Instead of having the children assemble a craft I've prepared for them, we're going to have a much more open-ended art project at the end of each session.
This is certainly not a new idea--educators call it "Process over Product." The idea is that the children will be challenged to be creative on an individual basis, rather than following a strict step-by-step plan. The emphasis is on the process of creating instead of copying someone else's product.
Proponents of this idea argue that children will have plenty of time as they grow older to practice specific skills such as following directions or building a polished craft. Early childhood, however, should be a time of exploration and experimenting with unfamiliar concepts and materials. Not worrying about the end result frees the child from the frustration of not being able to duplicate a model created by a teacher. There is no right or wrong way to do things--they can worry about that in the future.
In the library, we won't be able to fully implement all the philosophy of "Process Over Product." Getting messy with paint is not really practical in this setting, but I hope to encourage more creativity and relaxing fun during our weekly get-togethers
For more information, please see Dr. Laurel Bongiorno's article How Process Art Experiences Support Preschoolers.
This week's theme was "Favorite Things," and we started out simple with crayons and paper. I feel like there was already a lot more quiet absorption in the activity. No more cries of, "I'm missing pieces!" or "I can't do it!"
In the coming weeks, we'll try out some different materials like leaves, cardboard tubes, basic geometric shapes, etc. Maybe, we'll play some games too.
Please let me know what you think, either in person or in the comments below..