Process vs. Product Art

May 28, 2013

By Cindy Kern, M.Ed., CDA Program Coordinator

At the beginning of my career, back in my younger days, I was a public school art teacher. One of the things I still love to do is teach workshops for childcare providers where we explore the difference between Process and Product Art. A lot of childcare providers resist creating art in the classroom. I hear, “Art is so messy” or “I can’t even draw a straight line!” Well, messy can be cleaned up and you don’t need to draw a straight line to do Process Art.

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Let’s start with Product Art. Product Art is just another term for making crafts. The teacher makes one, she shows the children how to make one, and we all end up making the same perfectly cute art project. There is nothing wrong with this, especially when we think about what this is actually teaching children. Product Art teaches children how to follow directions, tunes fine motor skills, and helps them learn to cooperate with each other in a large group.

On the other hand, if what we want is to teach children how to be creative, Process Art allows each child to be true to his or her self. No two pieces of art work will look the same because each child’s personality will come through in his or her work. Process Art gives the child the chance to explore the art materials, which can be used in a multitude of ways. Their art does not have to look like the teacher’s or their friends’. In Process Art, their only critic is themselves.

If you are interested in learning more about Process Art, visit the ChildSavers training schedule for upcoming workshops or visit Bright Ring Publishing to purchase a book by MaryAnn Kohl.