Process NOT Product

by Kim

Allie did a wonderful post about play being a child’s job. That post hit it right on the head. Play is their job. I get asked a lot of questions about crafts from moms. Most of them come down to things like how often and how structured should a craft be for a young child?

If there is an activity and you want them to learn certain rules or concepts, then you should gently guide them. But unless the craft is something you are planning on entering into a competition try not to lead them every time. Are their crafts that you should? Yeah, I am pretty sure there are some you want a specific goal, like a Mother’s Day present for Grandma.

As caretakers we need to make an effort to step back every once in a while. Deliberately do an occasional craft with your child that is completely open. I mean completely.

Set out a work space filled with craft items, recycled items, and tools that you feel comfortable with your child using by themselves.

Introduce them to the work space and let them have at it!

I find myself struggling to not say, “Wouldn’t it look cool of we put this here?” or “How about making this look like this?” I find it better to just step away from the table all together.

I am usually pretty close, like in our kitchen when they are in the dining room. It is fun to listen to them talk about things as they are creating. I know that I am close enough to step in if needed or for an emergency.

Your children will love doing this. They will also love telling you all about their creations. Let’s face it, some need explanation.

This one was a gift from my son. It’s a camera. I can totally see it, too. I would not have thought to make one out of a tissue box and toilet paper roll, but a 4 year old does think of things like that.

It is great when you take time out to make sure that the process is emphasized more than the product sometimes. :-)


Kim is a contributing writer for No Time For Flash Cards, a mom to a toddler, a preschooler, and a foster parent, too. She juggles her day by trying out fun activities and crafts with the kids. After all, she is just a big kid herself. See what she has been up to over at Mom Tried It.

Bubble Wand Painting

We were on vacation all last week and my in laws bought this massive bubble set for my son, which he loves. He’s already used up all the bubble solution and if you know my feelings about bubble solution you probably aren’t surprised when I found something else to do with the wands. I know I am a Scrooge but bubble solution skeeves me out. So if you are done with bubbles but the wands are hanging around grab them and make some art!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some construction or other heavier paper, a plate , paint in fun colors and some bubble wands.
  2. Put the paint on the paint and dip your wand in.
  3. Create!  This is an opened ended art project there are not complicated steps to follow or anyway to mess it up. If your child wants to make clear prints cool, if they want to spread the paint with the wands like a brush awesome. Just let them play.

Using unconventional tools to paint with has long been a favorite activity for me as a teacher and mom, it revives plain old painting as well as forces your child to think in a creative way. It doesn’t take many of these projects before your child will see a unconventional tool and suggest you try painting with it! Creative thinking at it’s best!

Finger painting with a twist

finger painting

Taking old standards and finding ways to make them fresh and new is something I have always relied on in classrooms and at home with my son. This activity was a big hit, simple and allowed him to make whatever he wanted. I kid you not when he started painting he said ” It’s just abstract.”  I have been lounging  in bed with my art books a lot and someone likes to cuddle and look at the pictures with me , glad to know he’s listening.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paints, a dish, paper and an exfoliating glove or mitt. finger painting
  2. Put the paint on the dish.
  3. Get your glove on , this took some time but try not to offer help unless they ask.  I step in too early and need to work on that or my son will be 12 and I will still be putting his shoes on.finger painting
  4. Dip into the paint. finger painting
  5. Go for it. finger painting My son decided that smacking the paper hard was his technique , there is no wrong way. The glove did get stuck to the paper a few times but no biggie. finger painting Also the glove made really cool sounds when he scrapped it against the paper. I loved all the different senses that came into play during this activity. finger painting

Books About Colors

Hello, Red Fox

Hello, Red Fox by Eric Carle is a fun interactive book about colors and the color wheel. Kids will love the “trick” on each page. The trick being that if you stare at a color for long enough then stare at a blank page the complimentary color will appear! This book is great, but not for a group, a class will disintegrate into “Let me!!” and “My turn!” quickly so this is really is best read one on one!

Little Blue and Little Yellow is a profound book with underlying commentary about race relations while the surface story is about little blobs of color who when squished together turn into one green blob! You’ll be surprised by how easily your preschooler will pick up on the connection between the two. In my PreK class I had more than a few kids make the connection all on their own.

Lemons Are Not Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger is a clever book each page offers a sneak peek at what it next, which my son thought was genius and I have to agree. Soon my son was making his own predictions about what object would be revealed when we turned the page. The book offered so many chances for me to step in and ask my son questions about what we were reading without stalling the momentum of the book.

Free Art Friday

Scrap Paper Creations

Scrap Paper Art

Here at No Time For Flash Cards we call open ended art , Free Art Friday. I stole that from another preschool teacher because every Friday she would let the kids direct theor own art with all the supplies. Which is awesome in so many ways.  Today’s project has been the most true to form free art yet.  As I answer emails my son will often play with playdough, draw or cut scrap paper. Well  a few days ago that is exactly what he was doing when I hear from his chair ” I need glue to make my fish!” Scrap Paper Art 001Scrap Paper Art 002 So I handed him a glue stick and sure enough he’d cut an outline of a snowman in two to make a fish, and was now gluing on scales. Pride was overflowing. I grabbed the camera quickly and for those of you who ask if I keep projects , yes this one will be kept- forever!!

So grab some scrap paper, scisssors and glue and create! Whatever they make will be perfect !

Open Ended Art

Today’s guest post is perfect for what I often call “Free Art Friday” .  As often as we do crafts in my house I also offer plenty of “free” or “open ended” art for my son. It’s so important and should outweigh the structured crafts by far. My son has open access to a bunch of materials but if you are unsure how to start here is a great post by Shannon of Mommies Little Artist .
What is Open Ended Art?

In our house we do Open Ended Art and some have never heard of it or are not sure what it is or where to begin. Open Ended Art is simple and every kid can do it. Set up a art center in your house whether it is big or small just designate an area in your home (one that you don’t mind a mess; ours is in the kitchen so i can mop the floor if needed). Set out the supplies and keep the supplies replenished so they create when ever they want.

Our Art Center is stocked weekly with the supplies to create : one week we might do say: Shades of A Color (say blue for example): I would stock the Art Center with Shades of Blue Paint, Paper, Markers, Pencils and Crayons. It would stay stocked like that for the whole week, they created what ever they wanted so it was Open Ended.
I host a weekly Linky Meme called Open Ended Art where moms get to let their children create a wonderful piece of art, link up to my blog and we can all see and explore how their children used the materials and mediums provided. We also feature a artist a month; last month was Henri Matisse, December’s is Hans Hoffman.
Some of our favorite Open Ended Art:
Shades of Blue Painting:
Henri Matisse:
Pumpkin Decorating:

So how can you have Open Ended Art in your home:

1. Provide New materials weekly

2. Its ideal to leave them out so they can go to it and create whenever they want (with puffy paint that isn’t possible! but with our other themes it will be)

3. Do Not Alter or Fix your child’s artwork (so it should look like a child did it)

4. Don’t Ask what is this? or say Is this?

5. Is about the Process NOT the Product

6. There is no Right or Wrong way

7. Never Tell them what to create

8. Do not have a sample or model of what you want them to create

9. Let them be as independent as possible

10. Let them come up with their own ideas on how to create with the art materials provided.

Thank you Shannon and all the readers who have sent in guest post. I am so pleased by the community that No Time For Flash Cards has become and am amazed by how well you have stepped in when I needed you!  Thank you !