Art is children taking materials provided and using their imagination to create something that means something to them. Some children are really good at this but others who have not been given the freedom to explore art materials and different creative processes often have difficulty because they aren't sure if they are going to do it right. Through art, children learn to solve their own problems rather than relying on the teacher to do it for them. Art in the preschool classroom is all about the process rather than the finished product. There is no right or wrong, good or bad, messy or neat. It should just be fun exploration.
I always have many items on my art shelf for the children to explore but I frequently add items to encourage color recognition, color blending, shape recognition, size or texture exploration. You can add something new to an art area almost every day because the options are almost limitless.
Since it is Valentine week I added hearts of different shapes, sizes and colors (I only used white, black and red this time) and wiggly eyes. We read the book The Biggest Valentine Ever in which two little mice make a valentine card for their teacher. The Valentine was made using hearts and the hearts are put together to resemble a mouse. This is a cute book and a great segue into the children thinking about other animals they can make with hearts. I made a panda bear using black and white hearts and showed that to them also. Although they were not expected to make either a mouse or a panda bear, seeing something like that starts getting their creative juices flowing. They were excited to get started and below are a few of the animals we ended up with.
The children went right to work and each had their own ideas. The above are only a few of the wonderful little animals they created. One little girl carried her heart puppy around throughout the morning. Children take pride in their work and they like to use their imagination. This is a very easy project with great payoff for very little input from the teacher.