Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Process-Oriented Summer Activities for Early Childhood

The summer season provides children across the country with an opportunity to get outside and enjoy some sunshine. This is a great time of year to look for opportunities to incorporate more open-ended and process-oriented activities into the curriculum. 

Activities are considered process-oriented if they provide children with the opportunity to:
  • Determine the end result
  • Focus on the exploration of the materials
  • Express creativity
When children engage in process-oriented activities, the end result (product) is less important than the steps the children worked through to accomplish the task. There are no samples, or teacher created models. It requires simply providing children with a variety of materials and tools and encouraging them to explore.

Summer is an excellent time to incorporate these activities because one of the biggest barriers to process-oriented activities is the fact that they can be messy.  Introducing this type of activity outdoors gives both children and teachers a chance to experience the benefits of process-oriented activities before bringing them indoors in the fall.

Here are some examples of process-oriented activities that you can try:
  • Provide children with pails of water and paint brushes of different sizes. Encourage them to “paint” the side of the building or a wooden fence.
  • Children can create collections of natural items.  Create a collage filled with items from nature, paint with them, or paint on them.
  • Hang a sheet at the children’s level.  Provide spray bottles filled with watered down paint. See what happens next.
  • Make mud pies. If you are not ready for mud pies, introduce different types of clay (not Play-Doh) to the children.
  • Encourage children to create their own games, mazes, or relay races.
  • Make sand art.
  • Encourage children to create structures or sculptures out of sticks.
  • Introduce weaving by providing a variety of fabrics, yarns, and ribbons. Encourage children to decorate the playground fence.
  • Add washable paint to ice cube trays and then let the children paint with the melting cubes.
  • Finger painting, foot painting, elbow painting, etc.  Not the foot prints that teachers later decorate – allow children to create an original work of art with their feet.
  • Provide wooden blocks and wood glue. With close supervision, children can even make wooden structures using screws and screwdrivers.
This is just a quick list to get you started; there are hundreds of different ideas and variations available if you follow these rules:
  • Allow children to take the lead
  • Avoid pre-determined end results or samples to follow
  • Provide a variety of materials and see what children come up with
  • Provide guidance and suggestions on different ways to use materials
  • Make observations and provide positive feedback about children’s efforts
  • Each child’s work should be unique! 

Check out the CCEI Pinterest page for 25 Process-Oriented Learning Activity ideas!  

CCEI's June Newsletter Edition also covers topics on Enhancing your Outdoor Learning Environment you don't want to miss!

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