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Process Art- Beyond the Paintbrush

process art beyond the paintbrush

Painting at the easel or the table is a core activity that preschoolers love doing.

Painting with paintbrushes is beneficial, but we, as early childhood educators can take painting a step further.

Move beyond the paintbrush and invite children to paint with unusual tools.
When children paint, they are opening a world of creativity by using their senses to create. It becomes about the process when we implement process art.

When children are challenged with unusual painting tools, children must make choices on how to use the tools.  They predict how the tool will re-act and plan-out on their project within the constraints of their canvas.

That is a lot of problem-solving!

On top of problem-solving, painting with unusual tools makes those fine motor muscles adjust and adapt to get the desired result.

But, what kinds of unusual tools can we present to children to paint with?

Here are just a few ideas:

Take a look around your house or classroom… you can find lots of great tools!

Toothbrushes: much like a paintbrush, but the bristles are in a different location in relation to a traditional paintbrush.

Apples: cut them in half and apples make a hardy stamping/painting tool.  Potatoes do too!

Forks: utencils are great for painting because they already have a handle.  But, you can get different patterns and textures by using a fork!

Cars: anything with wheels- especially if those wheels have grooves!  This painting invitation is a huge hit.

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Squeeze Bottles: use lots of fine and gross motor muscles to operate and paint.

Corn on the cob: the corn cob takes a horizontal approach and two hands- promoting hand-eye coordination.  Rolling pins work well too!

Q-tip: a paintbrush without the bristles that make perfect little dots.. need I say more!

Medicine Droppers: just water down the paint and get those fine motor muscles working.

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Carrot: using a raw full sized carrot is challenging – and a bit silly!

Cookie Cutters: dipping cookie cutters in paint can be a fun ways to explore stamping, dragging and layering.

Squeegee: drop some paper on the paper, use a squeegee to spread it around and observe how the colors merge and move.

Feather: it is light and fluffy, but will it be easy to paint with?

Pumpkin Lid: after cutting open a pumpkin, save the lid and use it to paint with!

Leaves: can fall or spring leaves be used to create art? Of course!

Marshmallows: the traditional kind- or the Peep kind, either is fun!

Now, let’s talk going beyond painting on paper!

Different types of ‘canvases’ can open the world even wider to sensory experiences during art.  How an art tool works against a canvas can be a new learning experience.  

Some surfaces may allow paint to glide freely and easily, while other may cause friction and take more force.  We can also push our canvas ideas even further by offering three-dimensional objects to paint!

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Foil
  • Wax Paper
  • Coffee Filters
  • Nature Items like Sticks, Leaves and Rocks
  • Clear sheets (or left over lamination scraps)
  • Cardboard
  • Ice Cubes
  • Sandpaper
  • Fabric
  • Fruits and Vegetables (pumpkins and carrots are fun!)
  • Paper Plates
  • Wrapping Paper
  • Old CDs
  • Paper towels
  • The Sidewalk

Want more process art ideas?

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