Always one to guarantee a robust discussion amongst early childhood educators, that thorny old issue of art versus product driven craft has been buzzing around the interwebs again.
Let's ask one of the grand masters of early childhood, Lev Vygotsky what he has to say on the matter.
We have a rich history of early childhood pioneers and theorists who, along with researchers in early childhood and related fields have combined to draw us a clear road map for best practice.
That map doesn't have detours and side trips for product orientated or teacher directed art and craft experiences.
Vygotsky didn't say that process was more important than product except when you find something fun or cute on Pinterest that would be perfect for Valentine's Day.
Magda Gerber said that good quality wasn't enough for children in child care - we need to do even better than that, and I agree. Children deserve educators who aim for best practice in all they do, and that includes the experiences that we provide.
As early childhood educators we also have a responsibility to our profession to be as professional as we can be. That means making intentional teaching decisions that are informed by what we know about how children learn and develop.
You won't damage children by going off on these side trips of paper plate fish or hand print creations , but you won't be giving them the best quality experience either. Nor will you be the best professional you can be.
Let's step away from cookie cutter craft, and offer children daily opportunities to create in a myriad of ways, with quality materials.
Let's make Vygotsky - and those who went before and came after - proud.
What might process orientated art look like? Here are some readings that will point you in that direction -
Creative Play in Art and Craft - Gowrie
How Process Art Experiences Support Preschoolers - NAEYC