How to Encourage the Art Process

Categories: Art & Fine Motor
As an OT working in schools, many of my younger students have goals to participate in multistep fine and visual motor activities.  This often includes those adorable art projects we all know and love! My favorite part about these activities is the process.  However, it can be hard to find ways to focus on the art process when there is a specific end product to create.  Today, I will break down how I encourage creativity and focus on the process within art projects and why I think this is so important for our students.  

Let go of your expectations

Does it bother you if a student colors outside the lines?  Or colors items the ‘wrong’ color?  The first step is letting go of your feelings about what the activity should look like.  It is OK if our students create art projects that don’t look like we think they should!  In many cases, observing how a student approaches a task independently can give us really good information or can be a way to connect with the student about their project.


Focus on independence

Did the student use 100 googly eyes, but glued them on independently?  Great!  Did the student glue something on the project upside down, but did so independently?  Fabulous! Did the student use scissors to independently cut out a shape, even if the shape doesn’t quite look like it should?  That’s OK!  Focusing on what the student can do is a super helpful mindset to have when working on these kinds of activities.  

Provide visuals, but be flexible

I recently did an activity with my students where they made their own gingerbread man.  I provided visual supports, but allowed the students to be creative within the task.  All of my students needed the visual steps and a model to get started, but none of their final products looked exactly like my model at the end.  To me, this is a huge success!  The visuals gave them some structure but they showed their own unique creativity through the process. 

Let them get messy

Messy projects are my absolute favorite.  This is a fabulous way to bring more of a focus on the process to the activity.  I know it is more of a hassle at clean up time, but if a student is loving the paint or glitter or whatever material they are using, try to let them explore without prompting!  This can be a great way to build persistence and student engagement. 

How do you focus on the art process with your students?


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