Benefits of Process Art for Children

What is Process Art?

Process art is all about the experience, rather than the final outcome. There are loads of benefits of process art and it’s perfect for children. If when planning an activity you have a preconceived idea about what the final outcome will be, it’s probably not process art. This doesn’t mean that process art can’t result in some beautiful pieces of art, but that is not the focus of the activity.

What are the benefits of process art?

Children learn through play and open-ended activities.

Process art allows children the chance to discover how things work and explore different materials. Process art works well for kids as there is no right or wrong way to create. They can create in a way that works for them, making their own decisions.

MaryAnn F. Kohl is an art educator and author of numerous art activity books. I love this video interview  with her where she explains what creativity means for her:

Creativity is “a sense of freedom to think, a sense of freedom to play, come up with new ideas, new ways to do things”

Process art develops:

  • Fine motor skills
  • Gross motor skills and coordination
  • Creativity and self-expression
  • Sensory exploration
  • Risk-taking
  • Literacy
  • Math
  • Science
  • Language
  • Art techniques
  • Spatial reasoning

What if I want to make a specific item?

‘Craft’ activities can be converted into more process based art activities, to increase the learning experience. For example, if you wanted to create a butterfly, the craft might involve you pre-cutting wings, body shapes and antennae and providing a finished example for the children to copy.

A more process based art approach would be to provide the materials which you may have used to create the butterfly and ask the children to create their own butterflies with them. This will encourage them to use  a much greater range of skills e.g. problem solving skills, their imagination and fine motor skills to cut the materials. You will still end up with butterflies, but they will be unique to each child.

To make the same activity even more open ended and you could provide a range of materials and ask the children to make a Spring collage, allowing them to choose what they felt represented Spring.

Guidelines to gain the benefits of process art

  • Don’t try to ‘fix’ a child’s work
  • Provide a wide variety of interesting materials and choices
  • Try not to tell a child what to create
  • Emphasize the process, not the end product
  • Don’t ask “What is it?”; Say “Tell me about it”
  • Let children explore materials
  • Let children come up with their own ideas and use materials creatively
  • Do not create examples for the child to copy as this can limit creativity
  • Talk about texture, colour, smell, shape, etc
  • Step back and let the child be as independent as possible
  • Reassure them that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way

Sounds good, give me some examples!

You could go for a walk and collect sticks, pinecones, conkers, leaves, feathers etc. then come home and set them out with some paint, paper or glitter (if you have a fear of glitter read my blog post on mess free glitter). Your child may end up painting the natural items, dipping them in glitter, or printing with them.

Set out the same natural items, with some playdough. You could add some pipe-cleaners, googly eyes and sprinkles.  Your child may decide to turn them into woodland creatures, fairies, or see what patterns the items make when they’re rolled across the playdough. It really doesn’t matter what they do, they will be developing important skills and having fun!

Here are some more Process Art ideas to try at home

Squidgydoodle craft boxes and party boxes contain a mixture of process art, craft and sensory activities. For example, with the Holiday Fun Craft Box you paint with a car and an ice lolly. You’ll be splat painting a baddie with the Super Hero Craft Box and wibble wobbling a spiders web with the Spooky Art Craft Box.

If you’re still not convinced about the benefits of process art, check out this blog post from the amazing Meri Cherry ‘5 Reasons Process Art Makes Life Better’. Meri Cherry is a well respected arts teacher, who is passionate about process art.


Burnished Chaos


  • Emma Posted January 6, 2018 7:44 am

    I’m so bad at doing any crafts! Maybe if I had no preconceived ideas about the outcome I would be better?!!!

    • Debbie Denyer Posted January 6, 2018 7:22 pm

      Definitely, give it a go! You might find you enjoy it a lot more.

  • Claire Posted January 6, 2018 7:47 am

    I love process art for children. It’s great for them to explore and create without expectations.

    • Debbie Denyer Posted January 6, 2018 7:28 pm

      It’s great isn’t it? It gives them so much confidence. It breaks my heart to hear kids say they’re not good art, or they can’t draw something. Process art is a fantastic way of overcoming those anxieties and remembering what’s so great about art.

  • Donna Posted January 6, 2018 8:59 am

    Love this! I’m a bit believer in this but didn’t realise it had a name! I used to teach creative dance for a long time and this was always my approach in my sessions. Need to remember it with my own kids though!

    • Debbie Denyer Posted January 6, 2018 7:30 pm

      Ooh! My eldest would love creative dance! It can be hard as a parent to not focus on the final outcome can’t it? It’s amazing how much more they learn from exploring and discovering themselves. Plus you end up with something that’s truly unique to your child.

  • Lyndsey Posted January 6, 2018 5:19 pm

    I love this!! We homeschool and this would be great to add in. I already let them art on their own. The oldest got a sketchbook for Christmas! She is really into art and I love to see the creativity she express in her art. I will have to try this with my younger one.

    • Debbie Denyer Posted January 6, 2018 7:35 pm

      Definitely! I used to run art and sensory workshops for kids as young as 18 mths old. Sometimes their younger siblings used to join in too. You’re never too young to start creating! My 3 and 6 year old daughters tests all my craft and party box ideas. I love that process art spans all ages.

  • Kate Posted July 9, 2018 10:40 pm

    I have never heard the term before so I have learned something and something I can share with my children too. Thank you #FamilyFun

    • Debbie Denyer Posted July 12, 2018 9:13 am

      Thanks Kate, Process art is so good for building children’s confidence. I hope you have fun.

  • kid can doodle Posted July 10, 2018 8:56 am

    this is an interesting post. some are very focused on outcomes as it demonstrates to the parents what they’re paying for. either way, creating and fostering imagination and creativity are always a good thing! #familyfunlinky

    • Debbie Denyer Posted July 12, 2018 9:16 am

      This is very true. I used to run children’s art workshops and it was usually the parents that wanted the creation to be something specific. The kids were happy just exploring and discovering. As children get older they’re often more concerned about ‘what’ it is they’re creating. It’s good to just create sometimes, without a preconceived idea though.

  • Alana – Burnished Chaos Posted July 15, 2018 6:52 am

    I love this, art should definitely be about freedom of expression and experimenting. And there’s such a thing as mess free glitter?! I have to check that out as it’s the one thing we do not have in our house as I hate it with a passion. Although our house still gets covered in glitter from the art projects my daughter brings home each week.
    Thank you for joining the #FamilyFunLinky x

    • Debbie Denyer Posted July 16, 2018 8:09 am

      Thanks Alana, Yes! You can definitely use glitter without making a mess! I agree completely, art should be about freedom of expression and experimenting. Process are is a great way of encouraging your child to try different things and it really helps build their confidence.

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