Do you write art lesson plans for your preschoolers? Every year, I attempt this same challenge as I plan for my newest preschool class. While it may seem that there is little need for art lesson plans, I assure you that having a plan in place for how you approach art lessons is just as important as anything else. Just like with any other part of teaching preschool, planning out your preschool art curriculum will reap huge benefits throughout the year!
ART ACTIVITIES FOR PRESCHOOL LESSON PLANS:
3 DIFFERENT APPROACHES
I am a huge proponent of the importance of using process art in preschool.
I want you to imagine the following scenario:
A preschooler is confronted by several choices at the art table. He has paint in three colors, red, black and white. He has several sized paint brushes to choose from as well as stamps and sponges.
He also has access to a bottle of liquid glue and some tissue paper in the same colors of paint. But the first choice he has to make is this: what size paper to use, regular sized construction paper or the larger 12 x 18 size?
Just in presentation, this preschooler has several choices to make, all of them his own, and for once there is not a wrong decision. He has the choice to use all or none of the materials. He gets to choose if he wants to mix the materials and how he wants to apply them.
These are powerful choices.
These choices allow for the preschooler to develop self-confidence and independence. These choices allow the preschooler a safe place to explore and take risks, not to mention the science concepts the preschooler is exposed to as well.
Process art is important.
And it’s good for preschoolers, too. So, since it is clearly so important, it is also important to have a plan (of a little detail or a lot) of how to include art in the preschool day.
FAQ ABOUT PROCESS ART IN PRESCHOOL
By definition, process art emphasizes the act and process of making art over the product produced. It is open-ended, self-motivated and based on experience and experimenting. Characteristics of process art include:
> no specified outcome
> no step-by-step directions
> no sample for children to follow
> work is entirely of the children’s own choice, both in product and whether or not to participate
True process art is simply allowing children a range of materials to use and allowing them to create at their own cares and whims. Ideas for inspiration can be posted, however process art is not about the outcome, but rather the intent of the creator.
Here are some fun process art ideas to get you started:
> paint and an atypical “paintbrush” like a comb or using string
> oil and water paintings
> magazine collages
> glue resist paintings
> cellophane collages on sticky tagboard
Check out all my process art ideas for toddlers and preschoolers here.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) touts Process Art as highly developmentally appropriate for the preschool classroom. Some benefit of process art includes:
> nurturing social and emotional health
> reinforcing skills like focus, relaxation, and emotional sharing
> inspiring creativity and problem solving
> builds cognitive skills like comparison, planning, and problem solving
> encourages vocabulary development and verbal expression of language
HOW TO WRITE ART LESSON PLANS
There are three primary ways to design an art curriculum for preschoolers. Each of them have their own merits and at the preschool grade level, there is no wrong approach. Choose the one that is most fitting to your teaching style.
THEME BASED ART LESSON PLANS FOR PRESCHOOL
The most obvious way to plan art lessons at the preschool level is to incorporate them into the themes you teach. Say you are teaching a month-long unit on the ocean. How many different art activities can you think of that are ocean themed? I love to scour Pinterest or Google for ideas by searching something like “ocean process art”.
The best way to come up with your own ideas for theme based process art is to think of the elements of your theme and how you can put them into a piece of artwork. The ocean has layers of blue water, so maybe children can explore different hues of blue by mixing various paint colors. The ocean also tends to sparkle in the sunlight, so maybe add some glitter. The ocean also has sand and sea animals, so how can those elements be incorporated?
But the thing about process art is this: you, as the teacher, don’t have to make those decisions. You can simply present your preschoolers with the materials to create their own ocean masterpieces.
MATERIAL BASED ART LESSON PLANS FOR PRESCHOOL
The second way to approach writing art lesson plans for preschoolers is to select a specific material or small set of materials and focus on how to use and manipulate those materials to create different pieces. How many different ways can a piece of paper be used? It can be cut up, crumpled, torn, painted or drawn on, rolled up, folded, mashed with water into a slurry. Add a little bit of glue and the possibilities are endless.
Given a little direction, imagine what your preschoolers can do with just some paper. Now, imagine what could happen with more unique art supplies, like liquid watercolor or powdered tempera paint. You have the option to choose a single material to explore with your preschoolers. There are a vast array of creative art activities for preschoolers that focus on single materials.
Some basic art materials to help you get started can include:
- markers, pens and crayons
- various paints
- glue and accessories (glitter, salt, sequins, etc)
- three dimensional objects (cardboard tubes, clay, sponges, etc)
TECHNIQUE BASED ART LESSON PLANS FOR PRESCHOOL
The third and final way to write art lesson plans for preschool is to base them on technique. There are several techniques appropriate for the preschool age. For example, printmaking. Children can use cookie cutters to make prints with paint, make their own stamps, or use sensory balls to explore textures and printmaking.
They can use various kitchen utensils to make prints, or etch them into a clean styrofoam plate. During each technique-based lesson, students also can learn about a variety of concepts such as primary colors and shapes. If you search in Pinterest or Google Images something like “printmaking for preschoolers” you will find hundreds of ideas to get you started.
Other technique-based ideas include:
- making patterns
- resist painting
- cutting and pasting
- using shapes to create
- color theory
- action painting
- splatter painting
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO KNOW
Any of the above approaches are fine for preschoolers. There is no right or wrong approach to writing art lesson plans as long as you have something in place to make sure you are offering your preschoolers art on a daily basis and giving them multiple opportunities to explore various art materials and methods.
My suggestion for those of you who are struggling to include process art in your preschool lesson plans is to try a few different things. Find what inspires you and excites you to teach.
Sit down with your preschoolers and create with them! Kids will love your enthusiasm and respond positively to it. There is no need to plan anything too serious until you find what your style is. Just play, experiment, create, and have fun teaching art!
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.