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A Time and Place for Product Art

Updated: Nov 27, 2018

My training as an early childhood teacher has focused on the idea that children should have opportunities to experience being creative with open-ended materials. This is called “process art” because it puts emphasis and value on the experience a child has creating art, rather than on the actual product that is created.

I have had decades of little Rembrandts develop because they were given time to simply experience the essence of an artistic medium. For example, there is nothing quite like painting tempera gloves on one’s hands and arms or squishing clay, but without an expectation to create a shape recognizable to an adult.

And while I truly believe all of the research, which suggests process art is a best early childhood practice, I cannot deny how happy I feel when I pull out of storage three brown paper bags, painted to look like turkeys. The feathers of these paper bag turkeys are made out each of my children’s handprints. Their little preschool hand-feathers remind me of a time that has passed way too quickly. These three paper bag turkeys have decorated one of my tables every Thanksgiving for the past 21 years. Clearly, sometimes product art is okay too.

I wish everyone, peace, joy and happiness this and every Thanksgiving!

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