Process Over Product

Have you ever used cars to make works of art?

No matter how old you are – it’s awesome.

In our Virtual Kindergarten class this year, my DECE partner and I have been trying to incorporate as many creative, open-ended and hands on experiences as possible.

One of our favourite ways to offer these experiences is through process art. 

Process art, by definition, emphasizes and appreciates the process of creating art or manipulating art materials rather than placing value on the final or finished product.

Process art invites students to get messy, get creative and make mistakes. The experience of engaging with materials like paint, is sensory and exploratory. There is so much learning taking place while students are creating an understanding of cause and effect relationships, engaging multiple senses and applying their problem solving and critical thinking skills.

Process art provides students with the opportunity to be successful. There are no examples, there are no rigid expectations of the final product and there are no limits. The learning that begins with process art activities has the potential to grow and blossom into the experimentation of other theories, ideas and challenges. Process art is personalized, developmentally appropriate and inclusive. It’s a provocation that students can enter at their unique stage of development and can be transformed to meet individual needs. In regard to The Kindergarten Program (2016), process art aligns with a wholistic pedagogy in the Early Years. As students explore concepts of math, test theories of science, respond to literacy experiences, practice patience, persevere and gain confidence in their own abilities – they are playing, collaborating and falling in love with learning.

Upside down drawing? Absolutely!

The invaluable learning that occurs when students feel free to express themselves has inspired us to integrate the “process over product” approach into experiences outside of the arts. 

Our most recent attempt was the exploration of composing and decomposing numbers through a game of cup bowling. Students brought 6 cups to their screen and placed them upside down in a triangle formation. Then, they rolled a ball to bowl for their cups. We had many conversations of how much/how many, using words like less and more to describe our game play. Some of the students even discovered that the cups were 3D shapes, and put a ball on top of their cup to create “ice cream cones”. We continue to look for ways to imbed this process focused and play-based learning into our daily routine.

Do you invite older students to explore “process over product” activities?

In what ways does emphasizing “process over product” influence your students and their learning and understanding?

Please note: ETFO’s position on in-person learning remains unchanged. The union firmly believes that the daily, in-person model of instruction and support best meets the educational, developmental and social needs of students, provides the best experience for support, and is the most equitable learning model for all students.

ETFO’s expectation is that elementary virtual learning in any capacity, including through hybrid models of instruction, will end once the pandemic ends.

Integrating Art in Kindergarten

As mentioned in my previous post, I have been working on an Art Studio for the classroom that will provide enough space and materials to meet the interests of all the children in my class. Even though I have set up a physical space called the “Art Studio” there are other centres in the classroom where representational art is also taking place. At the Messaging Centre, many children are graphically representing their ideas with pictorial images, and in the Building Centre children are using the blocks to create designs and structures. We have a table where play dough is often provided, and this too allows the students to represent their ideas in 3-D form.

By integrating art throughout the classroom, I can access many areas of the curriculum in a way that is engaging and accessible for the children. For example, one of the first overall expectations in Science that I like to plan for is “demonstrate an awareness of the natural and human-made environment through hands-on investigations, observation, questioning, and sharing their findings.” Children need support to develop their observation skills and really notice what is around them, rather than assume an image that they picture in their mind. When you ask a child to draw a tree, they often draw the same straight trunk with a round green top on it! By taking students outside to touch the bark, notice the texture and observe the branches, children will develop an awareness and reflect their observations in more accurate representations.

Strengthening visual discrimination in young children can be done at the art centre by providing an object to observe and represent. I often select a natural and aesthetic piece such as the vase of hydrangeas pictured below. A basket of leaves could also be used at this time of year. Then provide a controlled palette of materials. So for the hydrangeas I only set out pencils for drawing and coloured pencils that match the shades of the actual flowers, stems, leaves and vase. The children still have choice, but their selection is from a realistic palette that they will identify as they look at the object with discrimination.







































Rather than make art for art’s sake, planned centres can be used to support skill development for visual discrimination, fine motor, and representational as well as integrate many subjects such as Science, Language, and Math.