Young children are hard-wired to express themselves in creative ways. Very young infants respond to music physically and vocally, toddlers delight in dancing and scribbling, and preschoolers spontaneously make up songs and create increasingly complex works of art.
Although the arts are a critical component of how children learn and how they process what they've learned, the arts are not always viewed as a priority in learning settings. Early childhood professionals can help children develop these important skills by providing lots of opportunities for children to engage in creative play and expression, and by ensuring that children have access to music, instruments, and a variety of art materials.
When children get excited about something, adults can build on that interest to engage children in a meaningful, longer term learning experience. In this "Reflections from the Field" video, Sydney Rodriguez describes how children in her preschool classroom got excited about the idea of forming a band and performing for the entire center. She explains how she built on that interest by engaging children in a series of connected learning experiences, leading up to a culminating performance. She also reflects on the amount of time required to fully engage the children in all the steps of the process, and on the importance of regularly incorporating music into early childhood classrooms.
Research shows that movement supports children’s cognitive development. Part of the "Supporting Children Through Physical and Outdoor Play" series, this video explores ways to use music and active play experiences to help infants and toddlers learn cause and effect.
The Center's annual TIMPANI (Toys that Inspire Mindful Play and Nurture Imagination) Toy Study researches how young children in natural settings play with a variety of toys and identifies toys that best engage children in intellectual, creative, social, and verbal interactions in preschool classrooms. In 2014, one of the highest-scoring toys was paint and easel, which scored particularly high on creativity, as described in this video.