The concept of process over product in child art is hardly in a new educational concept. Despite this, many educators and parents have trouble discerning the differences between visual arts process explorations and arts and crafts product based projects. This may result in confusion and difficulty in lesson planning for educators, and parents for home activity planning.
Processed Based Art Explorations and the Child
These types of art activities should be child centered, open ended, and explorative in nature. In creating specific objectives for processed based art lessons words such as "explore", "experiment with", and "discover" should come into play.
Having an outcome objective does not necessarily mean that an activity is not process art. For example, creating scratch foam (or Styrofoam tray) a print of shapes and patterns is a processed based art activity. There is a goal to meet and a product that will result, yet the child is exploring the art process of printing in their own unique way.
Process based art activities can be simple or more involved. A simple activity may just be cutting a variety of papers, while a more complex process may include using glue or paint.
Adults (teachers) try to institute a hands off policy during process art activities. Allow the children to experiment with the process at hand. Child created exploration and discovery are key.
Product Based Art and the Child
Product based art includes art activities and lessons that will have a specific finished result. These types of projects often look very similar from child to child and do not encourage creativity or artistic exploration.
Examples of product based art activities may include a specified project with a specified outcome, coloring page, a photocopied picture to be painted, or any "cookie cutter" project. These art lessons do not usually allow the child to experiment with materials or make decisions for her or himself.
A Middle Ground Between Process and Product
Product art is not always a negative term in childhood art. There are occasions where a product is appropriate. Additionally, it is very possible to incorporate artistic process into a product based lesson.
1.Theme focused projects such as an animal collage or self portrait painting.
2.Child created gifts and holiday cards.
3.Group/class collaborative art activities.