Often as adults we are so obsessed by goals that the process of doing things becomes unimportant. This can especially be the case in early years settings in the UK where the government continues to make box ticking and goal setting a statutory requirement. Children are much less concerned with where they end up and able to live completely in the moment much more easily. It can be especially tempting in art and craft projects to take over and start directing children in order to get a more aesthetically pleasing end result but this stifles creativity and inhibits growth whilst not building confidence. So today I attempted to create an environment for Ethan where he could enjoy the process of the art (for more about process art read here ) he made as much as possible and with as little interference from myself as possible. The fact we live in a rented house with beige carpets added extra challenges to this! First I covered the living carpet with a big dust sheet. Then I brought in the tuff spot. I had some wallpaper samples I covered the tuff spot with before taping them in place with gaffer tape. Then I poured paints in the inside packaging of a biscuit tin (chocolate packaging, cardboard or paper plates etc would work just as well or if you have an artists pallete use that!). I put some other items of interest out too - old megablocks, lids from jars and milk bottles, a dragon stamp and a toilet roll tube plus some paint brushes. Ethan was excited to see the blank canvas before him and soon got stuck in using the megablocks to print squares and then the lids to print circles on the wallpaper.
He also used the brushes and then started painting the megablocks and lids with the brushes and then his hands and arms. Soon he asked to add water to the mix. He also wanted to add more paint so I helped him do this when he got stuck. The end result was not as conventionally pretty as if I'd sat down and given him rules and directed him but he seemed to thrive in the freedom he was given. He was fascinated that by mixing red and blue on his hands that he could make purple or blue and white made light blue. It can be hard when we get resources out for children and hope they will use them in a certain way to sit back and observe (only helping when asked) but the benefits of this are so much more enriching for children than trying to force our agenda on them.