Infants and toddlers are constant motion – touching, smelling, tasting almost everything thing they see! They are learning about the world through their senses and sensory play. Often, infants and toddlers ‘experience their world’ through art materials but we don’t think of them as ‘creating’. Offering infants and toddlers a variety of different materials to explore addresses all domains of development.

Preschool children are excited with the experiences provided through creative art activities. They are interested in the process of what they are doing. They may start off painting the middle of the paper but then are so involved with painting that soon they paint the entire paper-and it may be with only one color! Understanding how a particular material works is important in being able to manipulate it successfully. An example would be paint and a paintbrush. Children may explore the bristle end to make broad strokes, the pointed in to make dots or lines, or their finger to make marks. This is discovery learning even though it may be messy!

School-age children also like the process of making things but they want an end product. They may spend a lot of time mastering different techniques and tools. Although there is a lot of creativity involved in what they make, there is also a lot of cognitive thinking involved. Some projects need mathematical thinking or problem solving, other projects nurture an understanding of civilizations around the world.

Children create in their play while also developing important skills during interactions with their peers. This is how children learn to express themselves. They have not yet learned to be guarded with their feelings and creations and use all of their senses and the developmental domains when they create. They are influenced by how they feel, see the world, the educator/provider’s interaction with them, if they are physically ready and nurtured for the activity, and life experiences.

Valuing the creative process means children are allowed to experiment and master a variety of art materials and tools including scissors and paint! These are materials children love but also need to be supervised carefully and offered to children when developmentally ready. Knowledge and understanding of child development and developmentally appropriate practice is important – you need to know the appropriate materials and activities for each age group.

The Early Learning Success curriculum provides for many creative experiences and opportunities. Try the free Dinosaur Unit of Study to see how the ELS curriculum addresses all domains from birth to school-age at