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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL c ChAPTER reative and Authentic Art Art for younger children should focus on the pro- cess, not the product. Process over product is a phrase you’ve probably heard often as a teacher. Take a few minutes to really think about what it means: that we should encourage children to explore art materials and enjoy the process of exploration. For a two- or three-year-old, exploration means asking and an- swering questions about art materials, such as “Can I touch it? What does it feel like? What happens if I use more?” It is more important for children to have meaningful, exciting, and developmentally appropriate art experiences than it is to produce a product at the end. For this age group, art is a very sensory experi- ence. Young children seek input from art materials, and getting input often involves using their hands. Twos and threes really enjoy touching, feeling, and squeezing art materials. They may also be curious about the taste of art materials. It is typical for twos and young threes to put items in their mouths. That’s why safety and adult supervision are very important. Careful observation and knowledge about each individual child will help you deter- mine what materials are safe for your group of children to explore. Young children need many opportunities for experimentation with different kinds of art and different kinds of media. Art projects should be open-ended, with as little teacher direction as possible. Accept that art exploration will be quite messy. Remember that hands-on exploration is the most meaningful and productive way for children to learn. Embrace the adventure and excitement, the fun and the challenge! reflecting on Your role As you plan art experiences for young children, you must understand not only the children in your group, but also yourself. You need to learn about different art media, styles, approaches, and pro- cesses. You need to try new things and step back and observe what happens. Then you need to examine your comfort level. You need to be comfortable with what you offer and decide what—if any—boundar- ies you will place on the children’s art experiences. It takes time and patience to let children freely experience and create art at their own pace and COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 35