Several times a week, usually on Thursdays and Fridays, TK kids get to embark on an adventure in what we call “Free Art”. All through the week we have projects that may or may not be more teacher directed, but, in most cases somewhat of a predictable end result is expected. We call this “product art” or, sometimes, “crafts”. Many times product arts and crafts are used to emphasize a theme or a concept. To make a large letter “R”, using rice, is a great, hands-on way to teach the shape and phonetic sound of the letter R. However, being as the end product is expected, determined and controlled by the teacher, very little of the child’s desire to create is being fulfilled.
Many times during activity times, kids are encouraged to create what they want with common materials, such as crayons, paint, or pencils and paper. This is good, and the kids enjoy it, but “Free Art” time is even better!
During Free Art we go out of our way to find unusual or exotic (non-toxic) materials and media and let the children paint, glue, cut, paste, build and/or mold in any way they want, for as long as they want! No specific end product is expected, and (except for obvious wasting or disrespect to the materials or tools) very few limits are set. With Free Art, it is all about the process, rather than the end product. Usually, especially if we’ve found a good variety of unusual materials, “Free Art” time is enjoyed immensely by all ages and the children will often work intently for up to an hour or more!
During Free Art we might use tempera paint, water colors, felt pens, colored pencils, crayons, rubber stamps, stencils, cloth material and paper scraps, wood pieces, rice, salt, crayon shavings, star shaped pasta, spaghetti noodles (dry), potpourri, feathers, string, combs, staples, scotch tape, white glue, glue sticks, stickers, confetti, food coloring, or just about anything else we can come up with. Fun for all!
“Where there is a child, there is hope…” -Terri Lynn Hart