Product crafts require you to follow step by step instructions to recreate something that was designed by someone else. Product crafts require absolutely no imagination or innovation.
Like a paint/color by number, or assembling pieces according to a pattern product crafts can be completed incorrectly.
Art has no right or wrong. It is all about the process of creating something — freedom of expression.
I always have arts and craft supplies available for the children to use. There are various types of paper, crayons and other drawing implements, as well as a variety of odds and ends and some glue and/or tape. The children have access to all these things during free play time and like all types of unstructured play the emphasis is on exploration and experimentation.
Sometimes the children create the same piece of artwork over and over again. Even when there are other options available they continue to use the same familiar tools to create the same type of picture as they have many times before. It is all part of the process of mastering a technique and they will move on to something else when they are ready to.
Occasionally I schedule a craft activity time for the whole group. This is usually done so that I can introduce a new item or tool to the children, or provide an opportunity for using supplies that require direct supervision. Even for these planned art activities there is always an element of individuality.
Our most recent group art activity involved paint, glue, and various paper products. Given the supplies and instructed to ‘Make Something’ the results are as unique as the children themselves.