'Process art' ideas for Christmas

Published on Tuesday, 26 November 2019
Last updated on Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Article hero image

There's no better gift than one that’s been lovingly handmade by a child, and with the Christmas advent calendar countdown ready to kick-off now is a great time to bring forth the creativity with some process art projects.

What is 'process art'?

Process art is focused more on the process of creating art than the end product. Each work is guided by a child's own decisions and actions, and each finished piece is unique in its own way. Children are encouraged to try new techniques without fear of it turning out 'wrong'.

Simply put, process art is all about the journey not the destination. It's an open-ended, and often messy exploration with little to no direction from the educator.

The American National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) identifies these as characteristics of process art:

  • There are no step-by-step instructions
  • There is no sample for children to follow
  • There is no right or wrong way to explore and create
  • The art is focused on the experience and on exploration of techniques, tools, and materials
  • The art is unique and original
  • The experience is relaxing or calming
  • The art is entirely the children's own
  • The art experience is a child's choice
  • Ideas are not readily available online

The purpose of process-focused art in approaches toward learning is to include support and opportunities for children to take initiative and to be engaged and creative. Process art also supports the holistic development and learning of children through supporting:

  • Social and emotional development - Children relax, focus, feel successful and can allow them to express their feelings
  • Language and literacy development - Children may choose to discuss their art and add print to it (on their own or by dictating to a teacher)
  • Cognitive development - Children compare, predict, plan, and problem solve
  • Physical development - Children use small motor skills to paint, write, glue, use clay, and make collages.

The difference between craft and process art

Crafts generally focus more on a specific end result, which can leave children with little or no room to deviate from the plan. At the end of a craft, each child's piece will look almost identical to every other child's piece. Additionally, crafts put more of the preparation and 'work' on the teacher’s shoulders.

Christmas is a great time to get started on 'process art' activities. We have a selection of imaginative, super-easy and low cost Christmas projects to get little hands busy – and a bit messy.

Christmas Cards: Get set for some mess. Great for toddlers and preschoolers. Add basic art materials and they can enjoy a sensory experience guiding their own creativity to uncover a unique WOW factor.

Colourful Christmas Tree: Allow a couple of days for creation as the trees need to dry after painting. Once dry, take a collage approach and let loose with a bold selection of materials to decorate by taping, gluing or wrapping.

Inspired Ornaments: Anything goes with these whirly wire decorations. Remember the instructions are a guide on how to make these and you can use whatever beads and felt pieces are on hand. This is a great activity to support the development of concentration and fine motor skills.

Melted Snowman Collage: While our Christmas has no snow there's no denying the love children have for the snowman – think Olaf from Frozen! This activity should give them a bit of a giggle and is super-easy to setup.

Christmas Bauble Painting: This is a shake-and-create activity and it's suitable for all ages. There's some drying time involved so it's a great early morning activity.

Santa Binoculars: This is a craft approach that requires a 'process art' twist. With a few modifications you can create the binoculars as shown and let children do their own Christmas paint colours, wrap with glitzy washi tape, add cotton wool for snowballs and some red ribbon or string. Just get imaginative with supplying their materials and they'll do the rest.

Sparkly snowflake: Bring on the bling! This involves more input from an educator to prepare the materials and then it's as simple as ready, set, go. Children create their version of a snowflake from the variety of pieces supplied.

Popsicle photo frames: This is a great gift idea using a hybrid craft/process art approach. Educators will need to assist. You can take a photo of each child in a Santa hat and print on the office printer to add extra Christmas cheer. Allow each child to decorate their paddle pop sticks with washi tape or paint. Parents will love these!

Thanks to NAEYC and Fun-A-Day for their insights on process art.

Related Articles

Article image

Fun Easter craft ideas - 2019

Easter, with all its motifs and symbolism is the perfect time to get cutting, colouring and pasting, and parents will love seeing all the amazing creations.

Article image

Winter STEM Ideas

From cute arts and crafts to interesting STEM projects for development, integrating the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, here are ten winter themed ideas to keep little hands busy over these cooler months.

Article image

Gardening activities for little green thumbs

Being outdoors and getting their hands dirty gardening is fun and develops fine motor skills and self-confidence.