Are your preschoolers loving the process?

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on December 22, 2009

in Creative Art, Developmentally Appropriate Practices, Quick Tips for Preschool Teachers, The Value of Play

I spend a great deal of time researching activities and ideas for the classroom and often come across the cutest ideas but then I try to visualize how much of the activity my preschool age students would actually be able to do.

Sometimes, the way an art activity looks online isn’t exactly how they turn out in the classroom. For example, the snowman head shown above didn’t quite look the same as the ones pictured in the post at About.com.

Here are our final snowmen…

Probably wouldn’t make the cover of a magazine! But guess which set of snowmen I love the most? We were not shooting for the outcome we were loving the process.

Learning is in the process
When looking at ideas for your preschool classroom, don’t just consider how cute the end result will be. Take a minute to visualize what your students will actually get to do. The actual learning takes place in the doing, not in the outcome.

Who is learning here?
I recently visited a preschool classroom where the children were making reindeer heads out of construction paper. The teacher, who was very gentle and kind, directed just about every move the children made.

  • The teacher sprinkled on the glitter – the children did get to tap the end of the bottle as she held it.
  • The teacher positioned the construction paper pieces on the paper – the children did get to put on the glue.
  • The teacher let the children put the stickers on for the eyeballs and then repositioned them so they all were in the correct place.

In the end, there were 10 little reindeer all looking pretty much the same but how much of the process did the children get to take part in?

I would have loved to see how these reindeer would have looked if the children would have been able to make them all by themselves. I bet they would have been a hoot and a fun topic of conversation for parents. The teacher could have titled the paper “My Reindeer,” possibly even show them how to make one, and then let the children have at it.

The next time you plan an activity - it is fine to choose something cute but then think “Process” not “Outcome”.

This article is being shared with you by Deborah Stewart of Teach Preschool - Promoting excellence in early childhood education at home and in the preschool classroom!

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Comments on this entry are closed.

1 Pam December 22, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Oh my gosh- I just seriously laughed as I read this…you should see some of the wonderful and interesting looking child-made items we have in my classroom :) …and by the way, I think your snowpeople look wonderful! (and if I ever just let the kids tap the end of the glitter bottle as I shook it, I think I may have some little ones crying- shaking the glitter bottle until glitter is flying everywhere must be very rewarding for the children in my classroom…because they are experts at this!

2 Deborah J. Stewart December 22, 2010 at 6:29 pm

I am so glad you stopped by! It is good to have a sense of humor when it comes to art:) Especially in my class! Hurray for shaking the glitter bottle!!

3 Monica @ Family Fun Notebook December 22, 2010 at 8:55 pm

I know you’ve written about this before, and it’s always good to get the reminder. It should be about the process of creating. I’ve started asking myself about activities: “what does this activity require my children to DO?”. It’s interesting that some activities that seem cute or educational really, when you think about it, don’t require a child to do anything. Or, their “doing” is too limited.

4 Deborah J. Stewart December 22, 2010 at 10:52 pm

Thank you for your thoughtful comment Monica! I think about this all the time – I learned over time (just as you have said) that if the children really are not “doing” anything than we have missed the point. I do love cute but if the kids are standing around doing mostly nothing while I am working on something cute – then this is a recipe for an unhappy learning experience all around:)

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