Creative play and imaginative arts experiences play a central role in pre-schoolers’ learning and development. You can encourage your child’s creativity with free-flowing creative activities and by getting involved in your child’s play. Here are some ideas:
Encouraging your pre-schooler’s creative play
Giving your pre-schooler time, materials and space to be creative is very important.
Pre-schoolers like to be spontaneous in their creative play, so it’s good to follow your child’s lead. But there’ll also be times when your child wants you to be more involved in guiding the play. By being actively involved, you can develop your child’s skills and understanding even more.
It’s important to send the message that there’s more than one way to do something. For example, there’s more than one way to draw a person, build a sandcastle or play a drum. This lets children know they don’t have to conform to anyone else’s ideas and they can go their own way.
Simple materials can stimulate your child’s imagination and encourage unstructured play. Books, CDs, drawing materials, sound makers, playdough and wooden blocks are all good examples.
And a wide range of materials can develop your child’s sense of touch. Yes, finger painting can be messy, but it’s a great activity for sensory development.
It’s important to encourage your child to keep going and finish artworks. But once your child says it’s finished, it’s finished!
And whatever artworks and forms your child comes up with, give your child lots of descriptive praise. For example ‘I love the picture you drew. You really know how to put colours together’. This boosts self-esteem and encourages your child to keep going with the creative play.
Creative activities: visual art and construction
You don’t always need to give your child new play materials. Using everyday objects, and making it up as you go along, is a great way to encourage creative development.
Creative play idea: paint blob animals
Cover your table or floor with the tablecloth or newspapers. Fold the sheet of paper in half then unfold it. Get your child to put blobs of paint on one half of the paper, then fold the other half of the paper over the paint while it’s wet and smooth the paper over the paint.
Unfold the paper carefully to reveal … a fantasy winged animal! Encourage your child to add details to the picture – for example, spots, antennae, legs, a hat, maybe even a wand!
Get your child to make up a name for the winged animal and then help your child write the name on the paper.
Create a home art gallery for your child’s artwork. A wall or pinboard is ideal for sticking up pictures and paintings. You could ask your child to choose one special painting each week to frame in the centre of the gallery. This shows that you value your preschooler’s creations.
Creative activities: drama
Creative activities: music, movement and dance
Creative play idea: let’s make music
You need some homemade and/or bought instruments. Homemade instruments can include saucepans, spoons, drums, bottles filled with rice, pasta or sugar or paper plates tambourines.
Lay the instruments on the floor and play them loudly (like an elephant), softly (like a cat), quickly (like a mouse), and slowly (like a tortoise). Encourage your child to copy the way you played the instruments.
Let your preschooler experiment with playing instruments loudly, softly, quickly and slowly. Make up stories to go with the sounds.
It’s good to include some ‘art appreciation’ in your child’s life. Whether it’s music, drama or pictures, you can encourage your child to talk about what she likes and which is her favourite part. Why not visit an art gallery or exhibition together and talk about what you see?