Monday, March 31, 2014

Using Process Art and Children's Books about Art to Promote Language and Early Literacy Skills in Preschoolers

Process art allows children to create, explore, problem solve, and express their feelings in a child-centered environment. With process art, children's creativity can flourish and their creations are as unique as themselves. Engaging children in process art activities is a wonderful opportunity for children to enhance a number of skills including language and early literacy. Today I'm sharing some fun art books that will spark your child's interest in creating his own masterpiece, and I'm offering a few suggestions that will promote their learning. 

My daughter's preschool happened to be celebrating art this week, and she learned about famous artists and the techniques they used. She was super eager to learn more on this topic, so we checked out a bunch of art books from our local library. We found several good books, and even a few that were appropriate for baby brother. These books provided a perfect opportunity to not only talk about the different artists and their paintings, but it introduced many new vocabulary words for her such as canvas, abstract, modern, impressionist, surrealist, contemporary, sculpture, portrait, landscape (the list goes on).

Great Books About Art for Kids (click on picture to be taken to Amazon)

  • MOMA Art Basics for Kids by Phillip Yenawine

  • Touch the Art Series by Julie Appel (great for babies and toddlers)

Speaking of Art: Colorful Quotes by Famous Painters edited by Bob Raczka

Art for Baby (great for newborns)

These books about art are wonderful conversation starters, too! Here are a few prompts that you might consider using with your child:

  • What do you think this piece of artwork is named and why?
  • What technique do you think the artist used?
  • What do you think the artist was feeling when he or she created the artwork?
  • What do you like/not like about this artwork, and why?
  • When you look at this piece of artwork, how does it make you feel?
  • If you could meet this artist, what would you want to ask him or her?
  • Tell me what you see in this piece of art. Is there any unusual or surprising?

An Example of Process Art

Using our library books as inspiration, I asked my daughter what technique and tools she would like to use to create a piece of unique art. She wanted to paint, so painting it was! She selected white paper, wrapping paper, a plastic spoon, ribbon, chalk, water, and a paper towel to make her masterpiece. Baby brother got in on the action, too! Process art is a neat sensory experience for babies and toddlers. 

Our process art space

Painting with ribbon

Painting with wrapping paper

The finished art displayed on the wall with clipboards

Other examples of process art might include: easel painting, bead stringing, drawing with markers or crayons, stamping, sculpting with play dough or clay, or finger painting.

More on Process Art: What is it and how do you do it?

Process art is a way to foster creativity in young children by providing them with an open-ended art activity. With process art there is no "correct" way to create, there are no models to follow, and no step-by-step procedure. The child is given the freedom to explore various materials (sometimes of their choice) to create artwork that is original and all their own!

Process art can be relaxing for many children as they express their feelings and ideas through art.You might consider playing music in the background as your child works. Encourage your child's ideas and offer gentle support if needed, but try to be as "hands off" as possible! Allow your child to explore new ways of using various tools. If your child feels discouraged in any way, reassure him that there's not right or wrong way to create his art.

Your child will hopefully feel a sense of accomplishment through process art. Since there is no example to follow, no patterns to cut out, and no mistakes to make - children often feel successful at the end of a process art session.

Promoting Language and Literacy Skills Using Process Art 

For added skill building with process art, consider asking your child if he would like to discuss his artwork. 
  • What technique did he use?
  • What materials worked well and what didn't?
  • Did he use any of the materials in a new and interesting way?
  • How did he create ______ (e.g., that yellow spot)?
  • What name would he give his art?
  • Was his art process similar to any famous artists that he learned about in the books? 
Often process art uses fine motor skills that help strengthen the muscles used in writing, but you may want to ask your child if he would like to sign his art or add print to it. 

Using the books on art that you read together, try reviewing the vocabulary words as you discuss your child's art. For example, point to the word canvas and say, "This is the word canvas that we learned with this book. Did you use a canvas for your artwork? Why not?" 

More Art Books

If you are looking for more inspiring books about art, here are a couple lists from Delightful Children's Books blog.

Other posts about Art or Creativity

Be sure to check out a few of my other posts:

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