Ways to involve children in the creative process and offer meaningful art experiences in your classroom!

As a parent, there is nothing more precious to me than hanging up a piece of art my child made out of her own hand or footprint. But as a teacher, I sometimes observe hand and footprint art activities and simply wonder where the benefit is to the child. Don’t get me wrong, I think that hand and footprint art is very cute and I think that parents love to have these types of art as keepsakes. But, I still wonder if there can or should be more…


As I observe teachers painting little feet, I like to watch the children. For some children, I notice that they love the feel of the paint. They giggle and watch intently as their foot is getting painted which means they are having fun with the experience of being painted…

After the foot or hand is placed down on a piece of paper, I start to wonder if there is something more that the child could do.

Process vs. Product

Could we throw a sheet of paper on the floor or table and let the child make lots more prints with his or her hands or feet? Or how about letting the child try to paint his or her own hand?

Often times, the handprint or the footprint is actually just the beginning step to the art process. So in that way, the child does ultimately participate in the process which is what I am looking for in the end…

Process-based Art Experiences

I think my favorite hand and footprint activities are when the children draw around their own hands and feet…

Then begin to add other elements to their drawings…

A Child-Centered Focus

But whether the hands are painted or drawn, ultimately I am always asking myself; “How can the children participate in the process?” or “How can I make this process a more meaningful experience for the child?”

Being Intentional

I do like the idea of doing hand and footprint art so I don’t want to come across like I am dogging the idea of doing it.  I have no doubt that I will be sharing all kinds of hand and footprint art on this blog just because I see so much of it and in the end, I think it is so darn cute. But still, I want to take time to evaluate anything we do in the classroom. I want to encourage you to take time to evaluate what you do in your classroom.

Making Learning Meaningful

When going for cute, also remember to build in opportunities for children to participate in the process. Look for ways to make the process meaningful to the child. Look for ways to make the process open-ended and you will not only have cute but you will have created a worthwhile and creative process!