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Creativity In Children

Fostering Creativity In Children...

Creativity involves the expression of ideas. Creative activities provide children with a means of communication with themselves and with the outside world.

Creativity In Children
Creative activities are those which value the process as well as the product of any endeavour.

Opportunities for children to be creative, to develop their own ideas through a variety of media, should be provided throughout the early years.

Providing For Creativity In Children

The way an activity is presented affects how much scope it offers for creativity in children.

Consider the following activities...

  • Children have been asked to make a collage using materials they collected on an autumn walk. Paper and glue are available and the children are interpreting this brief in a number of ways.
  • Children are busy cutting around circles of paper. They are then sticking them onto an outline drawing of a clown on a piece of paper. They are matching the circles for size to spaces on the paper.

The first activity gives the children an opportunity to develop their own ideas, to be creative.

The second activity, which is also a collage activity, is getting the children to practise the skill of cutting and is developing their concepts of size and shape.

This activity provides an opportunity for children to develop valuable skills, but it does not allow them to be creative.

What we expect from children and what we provide for them in creative activities needs to be linked to their developmental stage.

At the early stages they will explore and experiment with the materials, using them in a random manner.

They will finish quickly and then move on to something else. As they become more experienced, they build up a repertoire of skills and techniques that they can then apply creatively.

They will work for a longer period at an activity and show more concern for the end product.

Good early years provision will ensure that all aspects of children's creative development are catered for.

A stimulating environment will encourage children to take part in a wide range of experiences, giving them opportunities to explore and experiment.

Providing For Drawing And Painting

By the time they come to the child-care centre, children are likely to have widely varying experiences of drawing and painting.

Most children will have had opportunities to use different types of drawing media and some will be familiar with paint.


A variety of drawing media will allow children to discover different properties and applications. The following would provide a range of effects.

  • Pencil - Offer thick and thin, carbon and coloured.
  • Charcoal - Demonstrate the techniques associated with the medium.
  • Chalk - White and coloured chalks offer different effects and textures.
  • Wax Crayons - Provide different thicknesses and textures.
  • Felt and Fibre-tip Pens - Provide a wide range, including those where the colours blend together.
  • Pastels - Oil and water pastels produce a wide range of effects, although they are expensive and fragile.


The way the painting is provided for will depend on the space available and, to some extent, on the budget.

With this in mind, here are some general points...

  • Provide a variety of paints: Include powder paint, redimix paint in squeezy bottles and finger paints. Mix paint with glue or paste for different effects.
  • Provide a variety of brushes and tools: Include thick and thin brushes, decorators' brushes for large areas. Introduce tools that can be used with paint such as sponges, corks, old toothbrushes and straws and demonstrate these techniques.
  • Provide a variety of paper: Give children the chance to paint on different surfaces, rough, smooth, shiny and corrugated. Cut paper to different sizes and shapes and offer a range of colours.
  • Consider the space: Large-scale works will need some floor space. Try to offer easels as well as tables so that children can discover how paint behaves in a vertical plane.

Providing For Collage

Collage involves sticking two or three-dimensional materials such as fabrics, paper, twigs, feathers and introduces children to a variety of textures.

  • Supply the correct adhesive: Children will soon become frustrated trying to stick carpet with wallpaper paste.
  • Collect and store a stimulating range of materials: Get children and parents to help.
  • Organise storage so that materials are accessible to children: Vet all materials for safety.
  • Present materials that are themed, for example natural materials or shiny things. Choosing from within a theme can provide a framework for children to work within.
  • Provide a variety of surfaces for children to stick onto: Card, board, fabric etc.
  • Teach children different tearing and cutting techniques, and provide effective scissors.

Providing for Box and Junk Modelling

Working in three dimensions presents another challenge to children's creativity as it provides them with more problems to solve.

  • Collect sufficient materials to allow the children maximum flexibility.
  • Store materials in an organised and accessible way.
  • Demonstrate and resource a variety of joining techniques. As well as glue, include sellotape, treasury tags, split pins, staples, cutting flaps and hinges.
  • Provide enough space and time for the activity.
  • Protect the models when they are at the fragile, wet stage.

Clay, Dough and Other Malleable Materials

Using these media provides another means for creativity in children.

Children will need time to familiarise themselves with the materials before they become aware of their potential.

They will practice techniques of cutting and rolling and experiment with tools. These materials can be combined with others with contrasting textures such as pebbles, fir cones and shells.

For some materials, baking and firing will extend the activity further.


The early years environment should provide children with opportunities to listen and respond to music and to make their own music.

As well as fostering an appreciation of music, this will provide children with another channel for communication and self expression.

  • Provide opportunities for children to listen to music: Introduce a wide range of musical styles, classical, contemporary and electronic. Choose music that is culturally diverse. Alert the children to the characteristics of music - pitch, tone, pace - and listen for phrases that recur.
  • Teach children songs and rhymes: Include all sorts of rhymes - traditional, funny, number - and from all over the world. Alert children to rhythm in songs and rhymes. Introduce clapping and simple instrumental accompaniment.
  • Get children to move to music: Create a mood with music or use music to tell a story and get children to respond. Introduce children to different styles of dance and encourage children to respond to music with their bodies through dance.
  • Encourage children to make their own music: For maximum variety, provide commercially produced instruments alongside the children's home-made ones. Let children tape their own music to use in their play or to share with their parents.

Imaginative and Dramatic Play

Most settings will provide for a range of imaginative play opportunities.

There is usually an area for a domestic play and other provision for imaginative role-play such as a cafe or hospital.

Children will be able to create their own scenarios in construction areas and with small world play.

Dressing-up clothes are often available, either linked to a theme or as a separate activity. Sand and water and other messy activities may also provide a focus for children's imaginative play.

Imaginative play provides children with a means of communication with others and themselves.

It can also give them another perspective on the world and their role in it.

To encourage imaginative play and creativity in children...

  • Vary home corner provision, maintaining a balance between new and familiar equipment.
  • Plan imaginative play areas to link with any theme that might be developed.
  • Ensure dressing-up clothes are easy to put on. Provide hats, bags and other accessories and a mirror for children to admire themselves in.
  • Provide for large brick play. This often involves collaboration and complex story lines.
  • Show children that you value their imaginative play by talking to them about it and join in, if appropriate, and extend and challenge sensitively.
  • Present small world play in varied ways, sometimes on playmats, sometimes in the sand, sometimes in with the bricks.
  • Plan for imaginative play outside too. Tents can be made from blankets and drapes. Chalk markings on the playground can trigger all kinds of games.
  • Give children the time and space to develop their own imaginative play. Encourage them to use resources in their own unique ways.

The Role of the Adult

Provision For Creativity In Children

  • Select and present materials and equipment appropriate to the stage of development of the child, for example thick brushes for 3-year-olds, finer ones for 7-year-olds.
  • Organise storage of materials so that they are accessible and easily maintained.
  • Introduce new materials. They can act as a stimulus to children's ideas.
  • Display children's work with care, showing that you value their own efforts.

Planning For Creativity In Children

  • Give time and space to creative activities.
  • Organise experiences that will act as a stimulus to creative activities.

Working Alongside

  • Encourage the child.
  • Do not judge by adult standards. Value the child's work for its own sake.
  • Do not do it for the child. You will make him/her dissatisfied with his/her own efforts and dependent on you.
  • Children may be affronted if you ask 'What is it?' - 'Could you tell me about it?' might be better.
  • Teach children techniques. Children's creativity may be hindered if they lack the skills associated with the activity.

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