“Art is not a thing. It is a way.”
Do you ever wonder, what is the purpose of kindergarten art? Do you wonder how you should approach art with your kindergartner? Do you wonder what are the benefits of art and does it matter what types of art projects you do? Here are five key considerations when thinking about incorporating art in your kindergarten homeschooling journey:
Number 1: Drawing & Coloring Count As Art
If you are giving your child opportunities to “do art” by picking up markers, pulling out paints, or drawing with crayons or colored pencils, then you are giving your kindergartner wonderful art experiences! Maybe they pull out stickers, do art with nature, such as tree rubbings, or you invite them to cut up magazines and old cards to make a collage. These art activities are fabulous - your child is building their hand strength and learning the value of creativity and imagination! They are also building confidence in their initiative and decision-making as it relates to self-expression, color choices, and understanding who they are!
Number 2: Doing Art Builds Fine Motor Skills
Not only do art activities contribute to raising a well-rounded, confident child, they also are integral for building hand strength. So many parents, including me, would love to see their kindergartner writing with neat handwriting, similarly sized letters, and staying on the lines. The reality is that fine-motor control required for these skills is still developing through age 6 or 7. What helps greatly with fine motor skills are art projects - coloring, drawing, painting, cutting with scissors. The more children engage in these art activities, the more quickly they are building strong fingers and wrists, which are necessary for good handwriting.
Number 3: Combining Process and Product Art Can Enhance Your Child’s Art Experiences
Do you sometimes feel though it is a cop out to say you did “art” when your child is just coloring or drawing or painting or gluing. Is that really enough? Is that the right way to incorporate art with your kindergartner? Please know, it is not a cop out, but yes there are other ways you can incorporate art.
At Thoughtful Play, we embed art activities in our Exploration lessons. These lessons are interdisciplinary - they cover science, social studies, art, and much more. We offer these as part of our Complete Curriculum or as weekly plans you can purchase to supplement learning. Either way, art is a part of our day in Thoughtful Play. So, what kind of art do we do? First let me explain the two categories of art that are often talked about in the early childhood world: process-focused art and product-focused art.
Mixing Primary Colors for a Fall Painting With Apples (Thoughtful Play: Apples Topic in All Things Fall) & Nature Collage With Beads (Thoughtful Play: Ojibwe Tribe in Appreciating Indigenous Cultural Traditions)
Process art means a child directs their own process of what they will use and how they will create the art of their choosing. Product art is adult-directed with a goal of a particular product a child will make. To do product art, an adult provides directions on how to do the art project. Sometimes these two types of art are positioned as opposites, but that is not how we see it. The two can be combined.
We found this as we worked hard to create a curriculum that provides open-ended opportunities for children to make decisions within art projects. We wanted to provide lessons on particular topics that align to science and social studies standards, that also teach art terminology and techniques. We bring art into the lessons with a goal to create a product. However, the directions we provide are entirely flexible and often require that a child make decisions about what they will use and how they will carry out the project. The activities center children’s creativity and imagination. The inquiry questions we provide aim to enhance children’s creative thinking. Children most certainly end with a unique product, which is key to process art.
Truthfully, this makes it hard for us to compete on Pinterest and we are 100% okay with that. We believe that giving children the freedom that comes with process art within a structure of product art in order to teach meaningful interdisciplinary lessons is the way to go! Thoughtful Play combines these two approaches for truly unique and meaningful art experiences!
Number 4: Sometimes It Is Worth Pursuing Extra Art Experiences For Your Child
There are truly great resources out there to expand your repertoire of art activities to carry out with your child(ren)!
Consider these additional websites to find engaging and meaningful art opportunities:
If you would like more ideas on how to incorporate different types of mediums into your art, such as oil pastels with baby oil, salt and watercolors, and shaving cream with watercolor paints, The Artful Parent has lots of great ideas! Check out their Top 10 Favorite Art Activities at https://artfulparent.com/top-10-art-activities-for-kids/.
If you are looking for various ways to combine process-focused and product-focussed art that also taps into art-history, we have a recommendation for you! For a more in-depth art study, in which you could learn from the works of famous artists - what materials they use, how they create depth, texture, and so much more, check out The Apprentice Art Studio at https://heather-s-school-b17f.thinkific.com/collections. In this type of pursuit you create a product, although it is unique to the creator, with a goal to recreate a famous painting through the guidance of a teacher. If this sounds like something your child would love, definitely look into The Apprentice Art Studio.
Another great resource for combining process and product art is the well-known art teacher, Cassie Stephens. Check out her blogs with fabulous art activity ideas:
https://cassiestephens.blogspot.com. Something I love about Cassie’s work are the videos. You can play them for your child and carry out the projects. She is fun, engaging, and knows how to teach art to kindergartners!
Finally, a fabulous resource for all things art, from printable coloring pages to information about the best art supplies to purchase to creative and fun process-product art projects for kids, check out https://www.kitchentableclassroom.com/category/for-kids/.
Number 5: Given the Benefits, Accept the Messiness That Art Can Bring
I know that it is not always easy to dive into art projects, in part because of the messiness that can sometimes go with it. We feel your pain with this! On the flip side, as you tidy up, just know you have given your child something wonderful. Feel good about yourself for empowering them to explore their creativity, find out who they are and what they love, and express their feelings and their spirit!
Painting with Tire Tracks (Thoughtful Play: Construction Vehicles In the When I Grow Up Week-long Plan)
Keep painting and keep playing!
Hollie Young, Ph.D.
Co-founder, Thoughtful Play, LLC
P.S. Possible organizational system for little hands to grab what they need so they can get to work on their next masterpiece!