If you follow some Montessori families online or send your child to a Montessori school, you will notice a lack of coloring books and carefully designed crafts, despite these being a mainstay in many toddler-aged environments, both at home and in schools. There is a reason for this. Many families and schools that follow Montessori also practice something called process art with their toddlers. Process art focuses on the materials and the process, not the product. Sure, you might get a beautiful piece of art in the end, but that’s not the important part. While process art is not officially part of Montessori pedagogy, there are many good arguments for it being very much Montessori aligned:
- Process Art is Child-Led
Process art is all about the child and how they choice to use the materials. You set up an invitation to create and they respond how they like. It promotes independence and self-expression. During process art, children are encouraged to take safe, calculated risks and increases their self-confidence.
- Process Art is Age-Appropriate
Particularly for toddlers, process art is age-appropriate. Children learn by doing, with their hands and their minds working together. They stay in reality and their concentration isn’t broken by looking to an adult to lead them through the next step of a craft.
- Process Art set your Child up for Success
Process art sets your child up for success. All levels of ability and all levels of interest are reflected in the activity. However long a child wants to work, however intensely a child wants to try out the materials, there is a success. It fosters an early interest and appreciation for the process of art and for the materials.
(Disclaimer: At no cost to you, I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.)
This year I chose to offer new material to my son, almost 23 months, which I recently purchased and I can only recommend: tempera blocks. These blocks of pressed tempera paint are easy to work with and although the process is similar to watercolors, the coverage is greater and the brilliance of the colors is more intense. I offered three colors, pink, purple, and red, and provided a cup of water and some cut up pieces of a kitchen sponge. I allowed him to practiced smudging and dotting the paint as he liked on a thick piece of paper first.
Inspired by Jen from mamapapabubba.com, I had prepared some small canvases with heart-shaped contact paper affixed to the center. My son was thrilled with the heart shape and continued his experimentation with the tempera blocks, water, and sponges whole-heartedly. He made four of these canvases, in the end, three of which are currently on their way to some of our family in the US, who we miss dearly during these difficult times. He was delighted to peel off the contact paper once they were dry and reveal the heart. The last canvas will stay with us, displayed at the moment in his playroom.
Here are 13 additional process art ideas for Valentine’s Day:
- Pom Pom Painting
- Painting with what I love
- Marbleized Shaving Cream Hearts
- Strawn Blown Hearts
- Yarn Hearts
- Heart Crayons
- Stamp Art
- Wax Resist Painting
- Washi Tape Hearts
- Rainbow Heart Suncatchers
- Cardboard Roll Heart Stamps
- Valentine’s Day Squeeze Painting
- Shaken Valentine’s Hearts