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It's the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)'s Week of the Young Child, and today is Artsy Thursday! 

Through process art, children are stimulated in all areas of development — social and emotional development, language, mathematics, spacial reasoning, physical dexterity, and so much more! Process art experiences have a different intent and outcome than product art experiences. Review the following table (taken from this article): 

Characteristics of process-focused art experiences

Characteristics of product-focused art experiences

  • There are no step-by-step instructions
  • Children have instructions to follow
  • There is no sample for children to follow
  • The teacher created a sample for children to copy
  • There is no right or wrong way to explore and create
  • There is a right and wrong way to proceed
  • The art is focused on the experience and on exploration of techniques, tools, and materials
  • There is a finished product in mind
  • The art is unique and original for each child
  • The children's finished pieces all look the same
  • The experience is relaxing and calming
  • The children may experience frustration due to inability to copycat finished product
  • The art is entirely the children's own
  • The teacher might "fix children's mistakes"
  • The art experience is based on child's choices
  • The whole class took part in an art project at the same time
  • Ideas are not readily available online
  • Patterns and examples are readily available online

Children might exclaim: "Look what I made!" "Can I have more time?" for process-focused art. For product-focused art, children may make comments like: "Mine doesn't look like yours" or "Is this right?", "Can I be done now?"

For a fun art activity, create play dough with children. This recipe is an easy group activity for mixing, texture, taste, and conversation, along with process creation.

Play Dough Recipe (for 16 kids)

In each cup...

16 - 3 oz cups     1 tablespoon oil

16 - 3 oz cups     1/2 tablespoon salt

16 - 5 oz cups     5 oz flour

Warm water in a pitcher

Kool-aid mix or any other flavor powders, scents, glitter

Food color or liquid water color

Large bowl

  1. Give children the cups of flour. How does it feel? What does it look like? What kind of flour is it? How is it made?
  2. Children pour flour into the bowl
  3. Give children the cups with oil and cups with salt. Talk about the difference between wet and dry ingredients. Have them pour the salt in the oil.
  4. Teacher pours Kool-aid, food color, or other additives into flour bowl. Have kids smell it and guess what flavor it is or what color it will turn to with water.
  5. Teacher pours water from pitcher in each child's cup (enough to fill cup halfway) and passes out spoons. 
  6. Have children stir their ingredients in their cups.
  7. Teacher brings bowl of flour to each child and they pour their mixture into bowl. Have the children stir the flour, coloring, salt, oil, and water (each one counts to 5 or 10).
  8. Add water and flour as needed to get consistency right. Knead the dough.
  9. Give each child a little chunk and more flour if necessary. Tell them to PUSH, SQUEEZE, SQUASH, SQUISH, KNEAD the dough. 
  10. Store up to one week in Ziploc bag.

The play dough can be created into anything the child desires. 

What did your children create? Share photos of your creations or process with us with us on Facebook or Twitter using the #wyoc17 hashtag.


The first episode of The Raising of America will be available for free streaming from April 24-28 for the Week of the Young Child! If you haven't yet seen the ground-breaking documentary series on the importance of the early years, now is your chance. Invite your colleagues to watch too. To receive access to the first episode, please email with your full name, email, affiliation, and if you would like to join their monthly mailing list. 

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