Creative Arts Expression Framework icon

Creative Arts Expression refers to participation in a range of activities that allow for creative and imaginative expression, such as music, art, creative movement, and drama. The creative arts engage children's minds, bodies, and senses. The arts invite children to listen, observe, discuss, move, solve problems, and imagine using multiple modes of thought and self-expression. The creative arts provide ways for young children to learn and use skills in other domains. In the domain of Creative Arts Expression, programs need to ensure that children who are dual language learners can demonstrate their abilities, skills, and knowledge in any language, including their home language.

Strategies to Promote Children's Expression Through Music

  • Incorporate the music of children's cultures and home languages in the curriculum. Sing songs suggested by children's families. Sing along with a recorded version of a song until everyone learns the words. Introduce real or homemade versions of instruments that are typical of children's cultures.
  • *Share and discuss a variety of musical forms and styles. Sing traditional and contemporary children's songs and folk songs from the United States and other countries. Introduce different kinds of classical music—piano sonatas, lullabies, ballets, and operas. Listen and move to jazz, reggae, and marches. Encourage children to share and compare their responses to different kinds of music—how it makes them feel, what they do or do not like about it, how it is similar to and different from other music they have heard, what instruments they hear in different pieces of music.
  • Enjoy making and listening to music. Most songs for preschoolers have a range of about five notes, so they are simple to sing. Learn new ones by listening to and singing along with recordings. Share favorite kinds of music with children—let them catch the enthusiasm.
  • Provide an environment that supports making music and listening to music. Include rhythm instruments, xylophones, bells, and materials for making instruments. Provide a child-friendly tape player with a variety of music tapes and headphones.
  • Use music to enhance routines and activities. For example, play the same piece of music to signal it is time to clean up and go outdoors. Play music in the art area and encourage children to listen and paint according to the way the music makes them feel.
  • Share a book version of a song, such as Pete Seeger's Abiyoyo or Simms Taback's There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. Make a tune to go with a book that has a rhythmic, repetitive text such as "Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom" by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault, or "Uno, Dos, Tres: One, Two, Three" by Pat Mora.

* Identifies content and references that include children who are dual language learners.

Domain Element: Music

Title of Resource Type of Resource Notes
Rhyme Time [PDF, 62.57KB] Lesson This lesson serves as an example of how teachers can observe, interpret, and record children's behaviors during music activity.
Name that Tune [PDF, 46.20KB] Lesson The lesson is another example of how teachers can observe, interpret, and record children's behaviors during music activity.
Name That Tune--Handout [PDF, 36.04KB] Handout This is a sample form for teachers to document assessment data.
A Head Start on Picturing America, Appendix C: Introduction to Art Station Activities & Tips [PDF, 456.27KB] Guide Teachers and family service workers can use these hands-on activities to engage parents and children with the Picturing America artworks.
A Head Start on Picturing America, Appendix D: Parent—Child Conversation Starters [PDF, 141.52KB] Guide Parents and teachers can use these suggestions to engage children in conversations about the Picturing America artworks.
Linguistically and Culturally Relevant Early Childhood Environments Article Teaching teams and other educators can use the guidance in this article to create a culturally inclusive classroom environment.
A Creative Adventure Video Teaching teams and parents can use this video to see techniques to support learning, as well as creative expression. The video demonstrates activities that allow children to use their imaginations and experience creative adventures.

Strategies to Promote Children's Expression Through Creative Movement & Dance

  • *Incorporate dances from children's cultures in the curriculum. Ask families to share traditional music and dances from their cultures. Some family members might be willing to teach you and the children the dance. Once children know the basic steps, encourage variations so they can use their creativity.
  • Provide an environment that supports movement. Offer open-ended props such as scarves, wrist bells, and foam balls that children can use on their own. Provide an open area where children can move to music or just explore different ways to move their bodies. When leading a small group activity, be sure to have enough materials for each child so nobody has to watch and wait
  • Use movement to enhance other routines and activities (Pica 1997) and vocabulary. For example—
    • Walk like a…"Pretend you are walking across hot sand, or through the jungle, or up some stairs." Or ask children to walk as if they were brave, tired, excited, or proud. This encourages them to use divergent thinking and to recognize and express their feelings.
    • What's the opposite of…? Gather a small group of children in a space that provides plenty of room such as a grassy area outdoors, the gym, or the group meeting area of the classroom. Ask them to make their bodies as small as they can, then as large as they can. Have them reach for the sky, then touch the ground. They can balance on one foot, then on all fours (hands and feet). Invite the children to suggest some of their own opposites and to demonstrate them.
    • Use what you know about… Ask the children to think about a specific animal—one they have studied. Perhaps they read some books about it or saw it on a trip to the zoo or a farm. Have them recall whatever they know about the animal, what it looks like, where it lives, what it eats, and so on. Then, ask the children to imagine how it moves and to move that way themselves.

* Identifies content and references that include children who are dual language learners.

Domain Element: Creative Movement & Dance

Title of Resource Type of Resource Notes
A Creative Adventure Video Teaching teams and parents can use this video to see techniques to support learning, as well as creative expression. The video demonstrates activities that allow children to use their imaginations and experience creative adventures.
Adding Elements to Playgrounds to Promote Exercise and Creative Play Article Staff can use these ideas to modify their natural play space to create a fun and engaging environment for children to play.
*Head Start Body Start Play Space Assessment: 3 – 5 Years Old [PDF, 409.90KB] Tool Teaching teams, parents, and administrators can use this tool to assess how outdoor spaces can be better designed to promote children’s innovative and creative movement.
*Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness Resource Catalog, Volume II:  Native and Heritage Language Preservation, Revitalization, and Maintenance [PDF, 2.90MB] Catalog *Several of the entries in this catalog address the Domain of Creative Arts Expression (pages 3-4).

* Identifies content and references that include children who are dual language learners.

Strategies to Promote Children's Expression Through Art

  • Provide a wide variety of open-ended materials and tools children can explore and use to create art.
  • Include periods of time in the daily schedule when children can choose what they want to do and what materials to use.
  • Offer sufficient space for creating and storing completed work and work-in-progress.
  • Designate an area where children can be messy; provide clean-up items and help children to use them.
  • Display children's work, with their permission, at eye-level, in a variety of places throughout the classroom.
  • Encourage children to take art home to share with families.
  • Encourage children to talk about their art by commenting on colors, textures, techniques, and patterns and saying, "Tell me about your…." Ask questions about the process, "How did you make these shapes?".
  • Introduce new materials and techniques that children can use in their art, such as how to work with real potter's clay.
  • Include various art forms, materials, and techniques representing children's cultures.
  • Invite local artists to share and discuss with the children a work-in-progress or to display their work in your program.

Domain Element: Art

Title of Resource Type of Resource Notes
A Head Start Bulletin 78: Pullout in English & Spanish (Article - A Visit to the Rain Forest) [PDF, 1.43MB] Article see page 36 Teaching teams can learn about art-based experiences and how these support positive child outcomes.
A Head Start on Picturing America Guide Teaching teams including parents can find suggestions for using drama and role playing as elements of young children’s exploration of the arts and practice of other skills.
Head Start Teachers Recognized for Excellence in Teaching Through the Arts Article Teaching teams can learn from other teachers how to develop creative and outstanding lessons using music, movement, and drama.
Wheels on the Bus [PDF, 62.22KB] Lesson Teaching teams can find examples of children’s creations and ways to interpret progress in representational drawing.
The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring [PDF, 83.13KB] Lesson Teaching teams may review this example of a child’s series of drawings of a flower and think about his understanding of science and nature, evidence of symbolic representation, fine motor skills, and creative expression.
Circles, Circles, Circles [PDF, 45.34KB] Lesson Teaching teams can find examples of children’s use of different art media.
Drawing Rainbows Fall and Spring [PDF, 144.27KB] Lesson Teaching teams may take the opportunity to compare two samples of a child’s artwork to determine progress across a number of school readiness outcomes.

Strategies to Promote Children's Expression Through Drama

  • Consider having the children act out a story before you read the book to them.
  • Compare the children's dramatization of a story with the illustrated book (Brown & Pleydell 1999). Discuss how they were the same and different.
  • Dramatize stories from children's cultures. Ask families to share traditional stories from their cultures.
  • Create a flexible environment that stimulates children's imaginations with appropriate and varied props, furniture, and materials and enough space and time for children to get fully involved.
  • Provide props of varying realism to meet the needs of both inexperienced and capable players, including realistic props (cash register, stethoscopes, dolls, coins, and a variety of dress-up clothes) and open-ended objects (cardboard tubes, unit blocks, or pieces of cloth).
  • Observe children's play to learn what they might need to enhance their play—additional props, a suggested action for one of the players, or a subtle comment to take the play to the next level.
  • Help children identify emotions or problems that are surfacing in their dramatic play or drama work.
  • Encourage recall and sequencing skills by asking them to tell you what happened in their drama: "How did the story start? What happened next?"
  • In teacher-guided drama, ask questions that encourage problem solving such as, "How can we get past the cave without waking up the bear?"
  • Use scaffolding to provide just the right amount of support. For example, teachers can (Davidson 1996):
    • model how to pretend or act out a part through words and actions;
    • model how to use a prop;
    • model the type of conversation that takes place in the setting ("Dr., I have a sore arm. Can you x-ray it for me?");
    • make comments that help children notice what each other is doing;
    • assume a role and join in to show children that pretend play is important and to introduce new ideas they might want to use in their play; and
    • intervene in disagreements when necessary to prevent physical harm.
  • Create prop boxes focused on a specific theme such as post office, firehouse, health clinic, or pet store.
  • Structure the activities to accommodate young children's involvement and encourage creativity when leading a story dramatization. For example,
    • allow for the story plot to change as you encourage and include the children's ideas; and
    • break the story plot into a series of short scenes or experiences to keep the children focused and involved.
  • Engage each child by having all of them play the same role. In Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are," all children can pretend to be Max, making mischief, transforming his room, and sailing on an imaginary boat. When they arrive at the place where the wild things are, they all can switch roles and become "Wild Things" making a wild rumpus.
  • Allow children to create their own ending for a story: "How do you think the cap seller got those monkeys to give him back his cap? Show me!" This encourages creativity.

Domain Element: Drama

Title of Resource Type of Resource Notes
Head Start Teachers Recognized for Excellence in Teaching Through the Arts Article Teaching teams can learn from other teachers how to develop creative and outstanding lessons using music, movement, and drama.
Creative Adventure: Supporting Development and Learning Through Art, Music, Movement, and Dialogue Video Teaching teams can use visual and performing arts techniques to support learning, as well as creative expression.
A Head Start on Picturing America Guide Teaching teams including parents can find suggestions for using drama and role playing as elements of young children’s exploration of the arts and practice of other skills.
Cali, Juan, and Carlos at Dramatic Play [PDF, 48.07KB] Guided Practice Teachers are asked to interpret a running record of children’s interactions in the dramatic play area; they focus on children’s level of social skill and creative expression, and what experiences might extend children’s learning.
 

References for Evidence-Based Practice for the Creative Arts Expression
Domain of the 2010 Early Learning Framework

The body of research that focuses on early education intervention as a key contributor to children's school readiness and successful achievement has grown significantly since the creation of Head Start in 1965. In order to highlight the significance of this research across the outcome domains of the Early Learning Framework, we include a variety of references that describe various levels of evidence in the research base. Specifically we include levels of evidence that support the scientific believability of approaches, strategies, instructional practices, and outcomes. These levels of evidence include results of large scale research studies, documentation of evidence-informed practices, and/or replicable practices that effect children's progress toward outcomes, or are heuristic in that they hold merit for future research.

Art

Burger, K., & Winner, E. (2002). Instruction in visual art: Can it help children learn to read? In Deasy, R.J. (Ed.), Critical links: Learning in the arts and student academic and social development (138–140). Washington, DC: Arts Education Partnership.

Carlson, L. (2003). Kids create! Art and craft experiences for 3- to 9-year-olds. Charlotte, VT: Williamson Publishing.

Deasy, R.J. (Ed.). (2002). Critical links: Learning in the arts and student academic and social development. Washington, DC: Arts Education Partnership.

Hansen, L.E. (2008). Parents as partners in art education enrichment. Young Children, 63 (5), 90-95.

USDE (U.S. Department of Education) (2004). Teacher update: The importance of arts education.

Creative Movement and Dance

Lorenzo-Lasa, R., Ideishi, R. I. & Kideishi S. (2007). Facilitating preschool learning and movement through dance. Early Childhood Education Journal, 35 (1), 25-31.

Pica, R. (2010, March). Learning by leaps and bounds: Transition movement into the curriculum. Young Children, 52-53.

Drama

Bergan, D. (2002). The role of pretend play in children's cognitive development. Early Childhood Research & Practice, 4(1).

Korat, O., Bahar, E, & Snapir, M. (2002, December). Socio-dramatic play as opportunity for literacy development.  Reading Teacher, 56 (4), 386-93.

Musthafa, B. (2001). Sociodramatic play and literacy development: Instructional perspective. Annual Review of Psychology, 44, 155-165.

Music

Hetland, L. (2000). Learning to make music enhances spatial reasoning. The Journal of Aesthetic Education, 34(3/4), 179-238

Lobo, Y. B. and Winsler, A. (2006). The effects of a creative dance and movement program on the social competence of head start preschoolers. Social Development, 15, 501–519.

The Office of Head Start (2011). Cultural and linguistic responsiveness resource catalog, volume II:  Native and heritage language preservation, revitalization, and maintenance [PDF, 2.90MB].

Last Updated: May 28, 2014