Early Learning Success Manual, pages 52-54

Creativity and the Arts domain is about experiencing creative activities and art materials. Young children use sensory activities to experience the materials in their world. As children get older, they begin to gain understanding through participating in the process, eventually moving from ‘process’ to ‘project’ orientated activities. Children bring their home and cultural experiences into their artwork.

Common components within this area of development used by the Early Learning Success curriculum include: 

  • Creating – the ability to use a variety of art mediums to create works of art including the visual arts (painting, sculpting, photography, film), drama/theater and music
  • Expressing – the ability to talk about the process of creating, and discuss feelings related to creating 
  • Evaluation – the ability to evaluate works of art based on feelings, cultural contributions, and preferences

Each State has early learning standards which are written to further describe the knowledge and skill expected for each component.  These specific standards should be used to develop child-specific goals. Some States use the types of creative arts as the components instead of how children interact or respond to the arts.

Children are encouraged to experience a variety of artistic mediums and forms.  This includes creating and/or performing dance and movement, theater and drama, music and song, and the visual arts of drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, design, photography, video and filmmaking as appropriate for the age level of child.

In addition to creating, children should be reflecting upon the art and making decisions based on personal likes or dislikes.  Encouraging children to respond to and evaluate art helps to develop critical thinking skills, language and speaking skills and an appreciation for peoples and cultures around the world.

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!  

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.

In Practice

Offer a variety of opportunities for children to express themselves creatively such as:

  • Make sure dramatic play is not just housekeeping, but restaurants, doctor’s office, vet clinic, bear hospital, post office, flower shop, car shop, etc.
  • Provide free art choices so that children can explore creativity at their own pace
  • Include teacher directed art activities so children learn different techniques and how to use tools appropriately
  • Have musical instruments available–purchased and homemade. Or try a ‘pick-up band’ – pick up items and play them as musical instruments and encourage children to listen to the various pitches
  • Don’t forget art from nature- take a nature walk and collect things that children use to create works of art
  • Make ‘Found Junk Construction’. Collect a box of recyclable materials and encourage children to re-purpose them as new construction

It is important that children have a variety of community experiences that focus on a creative aspect.   Offering activities such as field trips, guest visitors, and examining different art forms in the community brings a depth to the child’s learning.  The more experiences a child has in their lives, the more they will have to use in their own creations.