June 3, 2022
Creative play helps to develop confidence in preschoolers, as well as language, physical and thinking skills, imagination, and emotional understanding. In this article, we are going to examine ways in which creative learning activities for preschoolers can help development in early childhood, the links between art and cognitive development in preschoolers, and look at creative development activities in early childhood that you can use at home with your preschooler.
What is Creativity?
Simply put, creativity is the ability to make something new. It involves imagination, inventiveness, problem-solving, and artistry. Although this article will talk about things we often associate with creativity (for example, art, painting, drawing, music, and suchlike) it is important to remember that creativity is present in all walks of life. Cooking is a creative act, skateboarding, science experiments, mathematics, and playing. Creativity is active, it takes something old and makes a new thing out of it. In a moment we will look at creative activities for preschoolers, but first, let us ask why creative activities for children are important.
Why is Creativity Important for Preschoolers?
Creativity and self-expression.
Creativity develops in early childhood which allows them to express themselves and their emotions. Young children may have difficulty communicating how they are feeling, but by painting, drawing, and playing they can express their emotions and learn to communicate them to other people. Not only are painting, drawing, and playing fun activities to do at home, but they also demonstrate how art can promote cognitive development in preschoolers.
Creative learning activities for preschoolers also help to develop a better understanding of themselves, both emotionally and physically. For example, by painting or drawing a self-portrait, children come to have a more objective understanding of themselves, and how they appear to other people. This also helps to build empathy and understanding for others. These fun activities to do at home also show how art helps with the cognitive development of preschoolers.
Creativity Builds Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills are your child’s ability to move small muscles, like those in their hands, wrists, and fingers in coordination with their eyes. Children can practice and develop these skills with fun activities to do at home, for example, drawing, painting, modeling playdough or clay, and even gardening, and planting seeds.
Creativity Shows Children that Effort is Rewarded
Creativity builds character. By encouraging young children to concentrate on a task, we can show them that their efforts can result in something worthwhile. While art promotes cognitive development in preschoolers and develops emotional intelligence and fine motor skills, it also builds resilience. Creativity shows that people will reward them for their effort and by demonstrating that with practice, they can improve their abilities.
Therefore, not only is it important to praise children’s creative efforts but also to demonstrate to them how they have improved and to show them how to improve further in the future. Simply praising their work is not enough. It is also important to help the child to develop a critical understanding of things that they produce.
This does not mean being overly critical, but it could be as simple as “What are you going to draw next?” or pointing to something in the drawing for them to notice: “How many fingers does he have? How many fingers do you have?”
Children Learn to Pay Attention to the World Around them
The last point brings me on to my next. Creative activities for children help them observe the world around them more closely. You will see, as your child begins to be more creative, that they will go through certain phases, which reflect their cognitive development.
For example, when drawing, children will first draw simple shapes, circles for hands and faces, etc. but later they will pay more attention: getting the right number of fingers on each hand, putting eyes and noses in the right place on the face. This shows that the child is developing their understanding of the world.
In drama or imaginative play, they will mimic the actions of others with more diligence, copying the way someone stands or moves, their facial expression, and tone of voice. This helps to develop an objective, critical understanding of the world and helps the child understand both people and them better.
Creativity Encourages self-sufficiency
In a world dominated by passive forms of media consumption (YouTube videos, cartoons on TV, video games) creative activities for children help them to be content with their own company for a little while. It gives them space to think and entertain themselves. This will help them to concentrate better in later life and it will mean they are less susceptible to loneliness and boredom.
Another way in which art helps cognitive development in preschoolers is through creative play. Creative play allows children a safe space in which to imagine situations that they might find scary or difficult in real-life, and practice strategies for dealing with them. By pretending and imagining, children are having a wider range of experiences than they would by simply experiencing the world around them.
Creativity Helps Problem-solving
Creativity is problem-solving. When we create, we often take one or more things that we are familiar with and make an entirely new thing out of them. Creative activities help preschoolers to develop strategies to deal with unfamiliar or tricky situations.
Creative Learning Activities for Preschoolers
There are many activities you can do with your child to help them (and you) get creative. Let us look at some practical activities you can do with your child to boost their creativity:
Painting and drawing games and activities:
Colouring — Colouring with crayons, pencils, or paints is great for using art for cognitive development in preschoolers. It helps with fine motor skills (like how to hold a pencil) and concentration.
Color mixing — Children love playing with colors. They find it magical that colors can be combined to create new colors. Mixing paints or color pastels can be a wonderful way to learn about colors and can be a clever way to get children experimenting and developing the stages of creative thinking by asking questions (what happens if I mix all the colors together?)
Action Painting — Action painting is painting with movement and another creative learning activity for preschoolers. Throwing paint at a canvas, smearing it with their hands, dripping or pouring it onto the canvas. It gets children thinking about movement and held them to express themselves.
Finger painting — Finger painting and handprints are a fantastic way to work with your child to create something. Also, finger painting is not only a creative activity for preschoolers but a fun activity to do at home. The child dips their finger in the paint and makes a fingerprint, and then the adult can help to draw around it and turn it into something (for example an animal, food, or a person). This gives the child a sense of participation in the thing you have made together and helps to show them how to make something cool.
Back and forth — Another fun activity to do at home with your child is to draw something simple (a line, or a shape, for example) and then have them add something of their own. This can go back and forth until you have created a whole picture together.
Exquisite Corpse — An extension of this is a game called “Exquisite Corpse.” Fold a piece of paper so you have four sections. On the top part, you draw a head, fold it so the child cannot see the head, and ask them to draw a body, then fold the paper again and you draw the legs, and finally, they draw the feet. When you have finished you can unfold the paper to reveal the whole body, which usually looks hilarious!
Play Dough Modelling
What could it be? — Take a piece of play dough or clay and ask your child to turn it into as many things as they can in (say) one minute. It could be a worm, a wheel, a hat, or a doughnut. This activity is great for their art cognitive development and it’s great fun too!
Adding to other things — Get the kids to make things to add to their toys. Give your dinosaur boots, or your toy train a hat. They are more surreal the better. This helps children to think about juxtaposition and gets them thinking creatively about the things they already have.
Cutting and gluing — Cutting and gluing things is a terrific way to build motor skills and concentration. Crafts that require cutting and gluing are creative activities for preschoolers and fun activities to do at home. It also helps children to focus on details (like getting the object in the right place) and it looks good, which gives them a sense of achievement.
Paper folding — paper folding activities, like origami, can be quite tricky, but with the right support, it can be really rewarding for little ones to see a piece of paper turn into a swan, a butterfly, or a fox.
Free improvisation — Learning a musical instrument requires patience, practice, and building skills. However, it is also important to let children express themselves with sounds. Free improvisation is a wonderful creative activity for preschoolers and a fun activity to do at home.
Children love making strange sounds, and this can be a wonderful way to introduce them to different, interesting ways of making music. Give them a drum or a harmonica and ask them to make as different sounds as they can. Or tell them a story and get them to make a soundtrack to go with it (a big ominous drum when the hero meets the dragon, a happy whistling sound when the battle is finally won.)
Listening — Listening helps your child to concentrate and pay attention to the world. It is mindfulness meditation. Ask your child to sit quietly and then tell you all the things they can hear. Talk about the different things together.
Storytelling — Children love to invent stories. Get your child to start a story (or you can start one for them) and then simply ask questions: What happened next? How did the person feel? Where did they go?
One word or one sentence stories — You can also make stories by taking it in turns to add one word or one sentence to a story. For example, if you say “One” the child can say “day” then you can say “I” and the child can say “went.” You can also write these stories down as you go so you have something at the end that the child can see and feel proud of.
Invent stories about people or things — If you go to a zoo, makeup stories about the animals. If you are in a coffee shop, makeup stories together about the other customers (without being intrusive obviously). Get your child to interact with the world in a creative and imaginative way. This will help them pay attention and be more empathetic to others.
Invent games — Children like to play games, but they also like inventing them. This helps them to understand cause and effect (what happens if you do this or that?) and it helps them to play with others.
Break the rules — One of the most important parts of being creative is breaking the rules and making new ones. Try to take a game and see if you can change or break the rules. See if you can make a new game together.
Simple recipes — cooking gives children a sense of maturity and it is a skill that they will need for the rest of their lives. You can find lots of great recipes to make with your child online. Why not try one out?
Planting seeds — Planting seeds helps children to learn about delayed gratification (waiting for the seeds to grow) and helps them to learn about biology and the natural world. Planting also helps with fine-motor skills and instills in children a respect for nature and caring for living things.
In conclusion, creativity is the ability to make something new. Creative development in early childhood is important as it promotes cognitive development in preschoolers. Creative activities for children also help with the development of other skills such as fine motor skills, self-sufficiency, and problem-solving. There are many creative activities for children that are fun activities to do at home as well. What will your child create today?
Chris Litherland is from Thurso, Scotland. He has been teaching for over seven years in China, the UK, Hungary, and Spain. He has a background in Music and studied Composition at the RSAMD in Glasgow, Trinity Laban in London, and the University of York. After finishing his master’s at York, he traveled to China to teach and fell in love with teaching. He has been teaching ever since.