Continuous Professional Learning for Early Childhood Educators: Process Art

By: Diane Kashin, Ed.D, RECE

As I sit in isolation on my couch, trying to make sense of our current circumstances, I wanted to reach out to early childhood educators, to provide some free professional learning. I feel like it is the least I can do for other early childhood educators. I am a proud to be an early childhood educator. I started my career, working with young children but eventually, became an early childhood education professor. For almost three decades, I taught at both the diploma and the degree level. I have taught many, many different courses. Probably the course that had the most impact on my practice, was one that was focused on creative art. It was a material-intensive course, that required much attention to set-up and clean-up. I was never sure why I was assigned this course, as I had not studied art and did not consider myself an artist. I did grow up as the child of an artist and that experience shaped my view of art. My mother always felt art should be joyful. What I taught, was what I practised – that we need to provide children with open-ended art experiences, that utilized authentic art tools and materials and that pre-cut shapes, colouring books, step-by-step instruction and cookie cutters took away from art for art’s sake.

Oil Pastels on Sandpaper

As I have retired from full-time teaching, I stay connected to the profession, that I love, by writing this blog and providing professional learning experiences for others. I love traveling across the province, with a car load of materials to provide hands-on workshops. Last year, I was asked to provide a full-day workshop on process art in Chatham, Ontario. Previous to that, I had worked with my colleague and friend, Cindy Green to create a “Back to Basics and Beyond” series for a local child care agency that included block play, dramatic play, art and language and literacy. Together, we created handouts to support professional learning. By providing hands-on process art for educators, there was the hope that the experience would help them to understand, in their bones, and in their hearts, the value of art for art’s sake for children. It is something that is recognized by the educators at the labschool at my former place of employment. Their approach to process art is inspiring!

Seneca College Newnham Labschool

I have accepted that workshops once scheduled are now canceled or postponed and I wonder what the world of professional learning will be like afterwards? When we emerge from isolation, those who organize professional learning for early childhood educators, will need to consider cost, amongst other things. I hope that there will be much attention paid to accessibility and affordability. I want to start now, to do my part. Here is a PowerPoint on process art. I hope you find it helpful to your professional learning.

The PowerPoint has been saved as a PDF. There are two videos recommended for inspiration. “The Little Boy” based on a poem by Helen Buckley. It is an old production with a message that still resonates.

With a similar message, this video animation of Harry Chapin’s song, “Flowers are Red”, speaks to the value of process art and the inherent problems with product art.

If you click on each image below, you will also be able to access the handouts.

I welcome feedback and comments and look forward to a time when we can be sitting side-by-side with children discovering the joy of process art together. Also, if you have any questions, for future offerings like this on other topics, please let me know.

28 thoughts on “Continuous Professional Learning for Early Childhood Educators: Process Art

    • This was a great work shop to attend. Thank you for sharing during this challenging time. I hope others will enjoy reading this article too. Thank you again for everything. Take care. Lynn


  1. Thank you so much for sharing 🙂 Doing my best to stay physically and mentally busy during this time. I’m looking forward to making some inspiring changes to our classroom’s creative zone. Stay safe!


  2. Thank you Diane. I am grateful for educators like yourself who have kind hearts and great knowledge. I will be sharing these slides and calling on conversation virtually with my teams of educators.


    • This is an excellent resource and professional learning opportunity. During this time, I would love to get more access to opportunities just like this one to add to my experiences. Thank you.


      • Thank you Carley and to everyone for these positive responses! I am most definitely going to follow up with more opportunities like this one! Stay tuned 🙂


    • Thank you Diana for sharing and reaching out to educators. These blogs are extremely expiring. I am true believer that child should be giving the opportunity to express themselves, especially if this is the only means of communication and self expression. We as educators should recognize the childs strength and use their strengths to develop their full potential. Once again thank you and stay safe everyone.


      • Somewhere my conscience prick.
        Was I the teacher that the video (Red flower) projected ?
        How we crush little ones without thinking twice.
        This is a strong reminder. Thank you Diane for alerting us about delicate issues that t we normally tend to overlook.


  3. Thank you for including ideas on different types of art. I have been struggling with how to offer process art opportunities in kindergarten. Sometimes the room is so busy and educators want the art table to run itself, but that is messy! It is important to take the time to introduce materials and scaffold children as they become comfortable with the materials. So many good reminders in your article about all we need to teach children about sharing and conserving materials.


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  5. Thank you so much for making this available. My school is asking that we find professional development opportunities on-line during our time away from school. This fits that requirement, and it was also very inspiring and sparked some new ideas for me.


  6. Thank you so much, Diane, for sharing this insightful workshop with us during this time. You inspire me always! Stay safe!


  7. Thanks so much Diane, I really like the art part because it is my favourite thing to do. Art really encourages children to try new things and they benefit by learning new skills. When they show their parents, they get compliments which they use as motivation to continue to learn these new things. Thanks again.


  8. Enjoyed reading this article….so important to let children make their own choices and give them a positive message about individuality.


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  11. Thank you, it has been a long time coming to hear a voice stand out so strongly to allow children to be children when it comes to art.


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