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         Expressing and Developing Creativity - 3 to 4 years

Young children express their thoughts, feelings and ideas in a variety of ways. Children are extremely imaginative and express themselves creatively through art, music and movement or dramatic play. Through exploring and creating arts, they develop creativity and self confidence.

At this age, your child is able to tell you how he feels and can express himself through gestures, body language, and tone of voice. His fine motor skills are better. He can use scissors. He is competent in gross motor skills such walking, dancing and balancing.

This is a great time for children to explore their bodies and develop creativity through their vivid and boundless imagination. Your child will love to engage in imaginary play such as pretending to be a fairy, princess or a fireman. Play with your child and organise play dates as he will love interacting with his peers.

He will also enjoy art and craft such as making paper aeroplanes, cutting out various shapes and sizes of paper and pasting them to form a collage. Give him a variety of art and colouring materials to experiment with! From broad paintbrush strokes to soft pastels colours, encourage him to talk about how each colour makes him feel.​​​​

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO​?

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Give easy access to materials. Keep art materials like plain white paper, construction paper, child-safe scissors, glue and crayons in a cubby that​'s easy for your child to get to -- dedicate a low shelf to art materials, or organise them in racks and containers and place them on a dedicated art table for your kids. Having ready access to art materials will encourage your kids to doodle and create in their spare time -- and nothing's quite like free expression for developing creativity!
 
Accessible art materials

​​Create an artistic Wall of Fame! Create a space on t Create a space on the walls in your home for your pre-schooler to display his artwork! When friends and relatives come over for a visit, invite your child to share about his masterpieces and rekindle positive memories!
 
Artistic wall of fame

Spark your child's creativity by creating an odds and ends collage 'wall'. Collect small objects like different coloured buttons, pieces of textured fabric and paper, cotton wool, yarn, tissue paper, sequins, stickers, etc. Paste a vanguard sheet on a wall or the side of a cupboard. Using glue, you and your child can design and create an exciting collage 'wall'!
 
Odds and ends collage

​​Bubble wrap is functional and fun! Your child will amuse himself by playing with bubble wrap! Enhance this activity by letting your child spread paint over the bubble wrap and create prints by placing paper on it. Popping the bubbles can also help your child develop his fine-motor skills.
 
Bubble wrap can be fun!

​Make coin rubbings! Provide your child with coins of different sizes. Encourage her to feel the bumps on the surface of the coins. Lay a piece of white paper over each coin and let your child use a crayon to rub over the coin. Show her how rubbing the crayon has recreated the image of the coin surface on the paper. Create more coin rubbings on the paper and the final art piece can be used as wrapping paper for a special gift or made into a card!
 
Create coin rubbings!

Create a masterpiece with items from the environment!


 
Create a masterpiece using fallen leaves, twigs and flowers! Art materials can be obtained easily from your surroundings! Collect leaves, twigs, flowers and even pebbles of different shapes and sizes and let junior coat the surfaces with non-toxic washable paint. Have fun making leaf and flower prints together! Do provide junior with an apron as the activity may be messy!

Value the process!

Value the process! Provide opportunity and time for your child to enjoy the process of art making. Young children take pleasure in creating visual markings of lines and marks because it helps them process information by recording and analysing their experiences and observations and making sense of their environments.
~ Dr Rebecca Chan, Early Childhood Consultant
Develop creativity through reading books!

Read a storybook with your child daily! ​Picture and storybooks can trigger your child's imagination and creative thinking. Your child can create his own story characters, costumes or settings and this can be made into a family publication. Stories carry children to the land of imagination and creativity. This helps them create mental pictures in their minds as they visualise the story in colours, sounds and movements!
~ Dr Rebecca Chan, Early Childhood Consultant
 
Appreciate the outdoors! Bring your child to a nearby park and draw her attention to the lines, textures, colours and forms of trees, leaves and pebbles. It is important for your child to see and hear you appreciate the little things in life by commenting on colours and feelings! For example, "Oh! Look at the sky today! See the woolly clouds (texture) and the deep blue sky (colours)! I feel happy just looking at the blue sky!"
~ Dr Rebecca Chan, Early Childhood Consultant
 
Appreciate the outdoors with your child!

Create a "Home Band" with recycled household materials such as milk tins, cereal box, paper towel rolls, and bottles. Encourage your child to find different ways to play the "instruments" to a song or a piece of music. This encourages problem solving through music and movement!
~ Ms Lavina Chong, Director/ Co-Founder of Our Music Classroom Pte Ltd and Associate Professor with SIT-Wheelock College, Singapore
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Create a home band with recycled materials (three to four years)

Build your child's musicality! Allow your child to explore and make mistakes when building musicality. Facilitate her exploration by getting her to imagine the possibilities and validating them for expressing her individuality. For example, ask questions such as "Can you show me two ways to make a  sound on a drum?" or "Is there a different way to do it?". Another example -- "Can you show me how many different sounds you can make with your hands?"
~ Ms Lavina Chong, Director/ Co-Founder of Our Music Classroom Pte Ltd and Associate Professor with SIT-Wheelock College, Singapore.
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Build musicality

Let your child decide the ending. With a story such as Little Red Riding Hood, your child can decide if the hunter will kill the big, bad wolf or let it live if it promises to be good. There is always room for alternate endings to stories and you can teach your child about values along the way. Talking about possible endings will allow your child to be creative and empower him to make decisions.
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 Decide ending

Let her lead. Let your child be the director. She can tell you which role or character from a story book she wants you to play and what happens next in her pretend play. Offer suggestions as and when required. Provide props like scarves, hats, and boxes to make it fun and interesting: "Should the king visit the village of go to the town to meet the mayor?" or "Shall we go to Orchard Road instead of Sentosa? There are more shopping centres there."
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Let your child lead

Ask questions. Help your child identify problems or feelings that arise during pretend play. Use open-ended questions to encourage your child to talk about what happened. "How did the story start?", "What happened next?" and "What shall we do?". This will help your child develop reasoning and problem-solving skills.
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Ask questions!

Experience different cultures

Experience different cultures. Borrow books on different cultures from your nearby library. Read about different tribes, ethnic groups or nationalities in other parts of the world. Bring costumes to dress up in. You can talk about the details on a cheong sum, a kimono, or a highland dress. This will help your child appreciate the cultural diversity that exists in the world beyond her immediate surroundings. You can also teach her about the language, cuisine and costume of that culture.
 
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Set up a dramatic corner. Fill a box with props such as a stethoscope, magnifying glass, dress-up clothes, dolls, scarves, ties, your old shirts or dresses, and a doctor's coat for your child. Engage in pretend role play. Enhance your child's learning by using additional props or books to supplement your child's area of interest. For example, if your child is interested in pretending to be a lawyer, talk about court proceedings and the different roles in the courtroom, such as the defence laywer, the judge, the witness and so on. 
Dramatic corner

Act out a story. Act out your child’s favourite story with him. Use animated voices for each character. Talk about how each character feels and bring up themes such as courage and honesty. Relate it to current context and ask your child how he will respond given the same situation. Use stories to draw references to your child’s surroundings and everyday life. This develops his imagination and creativity. ​

 

Musical storytelling is fun! Children love rhythm and repetition. Select books with accompanying songs such as Pete Seeger's 'Abiyoyo', Simms Taback's 'There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly', or improvise on festive tunes such as 'The 12 Days of Christimas', which you can adapt to local context. Have fun making up songs with your child. This allows him to experiment with words and tunes.

Musical storytelling

Let your child do things on his own. Your child can now scribble with crayons, use a fork and spoon and handle buttons and zippers. He is capable of feeding himself, dressing and undressing, washing and drying his hands and brushing his own teeth. Allow enough time and opportunities for him to practise doing things on his own. This makes him feel successful and competent. 



Make music a part of daily life. Music promotes language acquisition, listening skills, memory, and motor skills. Fit music and songs into your child’s daily routines. Play soft music while she is doing art or make up songs for routines such as hand-washing or crossing the road. It would be interesting to observe the kinds of painting or drawings your child creates in response to the different genres of music.


Learn simple five-note songs. Some children's songs are catchy and easy to learn. Teach your child nursery rhymes that come with finger play or actions. Make music accessible to your child by allowing her to play her favourite CDs, or create a playlist in your mp3 player just for her! This helps your child cultivate the openness to listen and experiment with new tunes or even musical instruments. Be enthusiastic and your child will find music fun and intriguing.


Make music. Let your child share how she feels about different music genres, what her favourite is, and why. Discuss the instruments used in the music and make your own musical instruments next. Turn a few glasses filled with different levels of water into a xylophone or a bottle filled with beans into a shaker. This allows your child to experiment with different sounds, volumes and pitches.

Listen to different music genres. Expose your child to classical, jazz, folk music, children's songs, songs of diverse cultures and languages. Sing nursery rhymes in your mother tongue to your child to get her acquainted with her second language. As she listens, encourage her to move to the beat and rhythm of the songs. This enhances appreciation for different music genres, promotes auditory awareness and nurtures a love for language learning.



Make your own play dough. You can get recipes online easily and the ingredients are very affordable. Making the dough together not only helps your child learn more about numeracy concepts such as measurement and counting, it also creates encourages a stronger parent-child bonding through sensory play and develops ing his fine motor skills through mixing and kneading. You can use food colouring to make dough of different colours or mix them up to create a rainbow effect.



Go to the art museum! Our local museum has many art programmes and exhibitions. Keep a look out for such events and spend a day basking in art with your child. Providing your child with different positive experiences with the arts broadens her worldview and cultivates an interest in the arts.





Make a puppet. All you need is construction paper, glue or tape, ice cream sticks, colouring materials and a bit of imagination. Make puppets of her favourite cartoon characters, animals, family members and friends. Use these puppets to make up stories together. This adds the element of early literacy to art-making and play.  



Trace shapes and patterns! Y​our child loves tracing along shapes and can copy circles quite competently. Cut the shapes out and paste them to make a pattern or form a picture. You can even string the shapes together to make a decorative item or a hanging mobile.

Make art materials accessible. Place materials such as scissors, glue, colour pencils, markers, crayons and more in a box which your child can easily access. Set aside a space for your child to create and be messy. Cultivate the good habit of having him clean up after creating.

Provide a variety of material. Your child can paint jam jars and use them as tea light holders or build a space ship using carton boxes and cardboard boxes.

Celebrate your child’s art! Exhibit his creations at home and in your office. This will let your child know that you are proud of his accomplishments.

Talk about colours, textures, patterns and techniques. Ask your child to tell you about his work. Talk about the colours, how these colours make him feel, the shapes or patterns used in the picture, or the techniques he used to put them together.

Turn anything into art! You can project your child’s shadow and outline it or do body drawings using mah-jong paper that has been taped together. Tear out pages from an old magazine and cut out different colours and images to form a collage, such as a day at the park or a carnival. All this helps your child exercise creativity and imagination!