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Creativity: Improve

Infants and Toddlers

Reflecting on and improving your skills and knowledge to support children’s creativity and imagination is important work. Here are some ideas you can try with your coach or supervisor to build your teaching practices in this area:

Planning Goals and Action Steps

  • Work with your coach or supervisor to identify the teaching practices you want to build and strengthen. Below are some practices that support infants' and toddlers' creativity and imagination.1,2,3
    • Organize and support play opportunities. Begin with sensory-motor play, advance to pretend play (e.g., pretending to get in a get in boat and row during "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"), and continue to social pretend play (e.g., pretending restaurant, train station, or shoe store).
    • Expand pretend play by joining in, adding materials, modeling additional ways to interact, or suggesting additional roles.
    • Ask a variety of types of questions that respond to and build on children's interests and activities.
    • Provide open-ended materials (e.g., balls, cardboard boxes, blocks, paper towel tubes) and arts experiences (e.g., art, music, movement) that allow children to express themselves.
    • Promote the use of language in creative ways (e.g., making up silly words, songs, and chants).
    • Provide and support experiences that focus on play and process, not product.
  • In home-based programs, consider identifying and including broader relationship-building practices such as those described in Building Partnerships: Guide to Developing Relationships with Families.
  • Create an action plan with timelines to help you use the practices consistently and effectively.

Focused Observation

  • Revisit the teaching practice that you outlined in your planning goals and action steps with your coach/supervisor. Together, plan for and schedule an observation where they can focus on how you implement the practices you've identified.
    • For example, if you chose to focus on the practice, Expand pretend play by joining in, adding materials, modeling additional ways to interact, or suggesting additional roles, you and your coach/supervisor can plan for her to observe during free play time as you interact with children in the dramatic play area. You might ask her to focus on how your suggestions for pretend play influence children's engagement and play and to share ideas to help strengthen your practice.
  • In home-based programs, observations may focus on how the home visitor engages with parents to identify, adapt, and use the identified teaching and relationship-building practices. They may also focus on how you model the practices.

Reflection and Feedback

  • What went well? What did you do? How did the children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? How did their reaction support the relationship with their child? Their child’s imagination and creativity?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • What seemed challenging? What did you do? How did the children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? Their child?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • Did your coach or supervisor offer feedback from the observation that was surprising? What supports do you need from her to refine and strengthen the practice? What else would help you strengthen the practice?
  • What would you do differently if you were to use this practice again?
  • What do you hope the child or parents will gain by using this practice? How will you know?

Preschoolers

Reflecting on and improving your skills and knowledge to support children’s creativity and imagination is important work. Here are some ideas you can try with your coach or supervisor to build your teaching practices in this area:

Planning Goals and Action Steps

  • Work with your coach or supervisor to identify the teaching practices you want to build and strengthen. Below are some practices that support preschoolers' creativity and imagination.
    • Engage in play and exploration with children, giving language to shared discoveries (e.g., describing the discovery, introducing new vocabulary) and modeling a spirit of curiosity.4
    • Ask open-ended questions to get children thinking and allow for many possible responses. For example, "What might we do to make sure that everyone gets a turn?" or "What kinds of materials will we need to make our tree fort?"5
    • Help children generate plans about how they will spend their time or go about a task. For example, "What do you need to do first to make a pond in the sand box? Then, what will you do?"
    • Introduce children to varied examples of art forms (e.g., art, music, movement, drama) and involve children in noticing, thinking about, and discussing artistic productions.6
    • Engage in play and exploration with children, giving language to shared discoveries and modeling a spirit of curiosity.
    • Provide raw materials, props, tools, and spaces so that children can create in their own ways.7
    • Adult observes and responds to children in ways that communicates acceptance and encouragement for creative expression.8
    • Adult models his or her own creative thinking and expression (e.g., making up voices and sound effects and using gestures when reading or telling stories, using recycled items for new purposes, thinking out loud when solving a problem).9
  • In home-based programs, consider identifying and including broader relationship-building practices such as those described in Building Partnerships: Guide to Developing Relationships with Families.
  • Create an action plan with timelines to help you use the practices consistently and effectively.

Focused Observation

  • Revisit your planning goals and action steps where you and your coach/supervisor identified a teaching practice you want to work on. Together, plan for and schedule an observation where they can focus on how you implement the practices you've identified.
    • For example, if you chose to focus on the practice, Ask open-ended questions to get children thinking and allow for many possible responses, you can ask your coach/supervisor to observe you during the day and record the number of times you use open-ended questions with children. You might also ask her to note how your questions helped children think more deeply and creatively about their activity.
  • In home-based programs, observations may focus on how the home visitor engages with parents to identify, adapt, and use the identified teaching and relationship-building practices. They may also focus on how you model the practices.

Reflection and Feedback

  • What went well? What did you do? How did the children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? How did their reaction support the relationship with their child? Their child’s imagination and creativity?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • What seemed challenging? What did you do? How did the children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? Their child?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • Did your coach or supervisor offer feedback from the observation that was surprising? What supports do you need from her to refine and strengthen the practice? What else would help you strengthen the practice?
  • What would you do differently if you were to use this practice again?
  • What do you hope the child or parents will gain by using this practice? How will you know?

1Sally Atkins-Burnett, et.al., Measuring the Quality of Caregiver-Child Interactions with Infants and Toddlers: The Q-CCIIT Observer Certification Training User's Guide (Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research, 2016), 48, D.2.

2Sally Atkins-Burnett, et.al., Measuring the Quality of Caregiver-Child Interactions with Infants and Toddlers: The Q-CCIIT Observer Certification Training User's Guide (Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research, 2016), 36, C.2.

3PBS/WETA, Creativity and Play: Fostering Creativity, http://www.pbs.org/wholechild/providers/play.html.

4California Department of Education, California Preschool Curriculum Framework Volume 1 (Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education, 2010), 58, Social-Emotional Development, http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/re/documents/psframeworkkvol1.pdf.

5Robert C. Pianta, Karen M. La Paro, and Bridget K. Hamre, Classroom Assessment Scoring System Manual, Pre-K (Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes, 2008), 67, High Concept Development.

6Head Start Bureau, The Head Start Guide to Positive Outcomes: Strategies to Support Positive Child Outcomes (Washington, DC: DHHS, ACF, ACYF, HSB, 2003), 76.

7Ibid.

8Ibid.

9Ibid.

Topic:School Readiness

Resource Type: Article

Last Updated: June 5, 2018