What is Early Years expressive arts?

This includes anything and everything that allows children to express themselves; art; music; dance; play and much more. For ease, this is split into two key areas: being imaginative and exploring and using media and materials


Being imaginative

At this age being imaginative doesn't just mean 'coming up with good ideas for play'. Instead, it means a whole range of things; moving the body in or out-of-time in response to music; imitating and making up rhythms; expressing oneself with gesture and facial expressions that they have seen others use. At this age children might...

...use what they have learnt about media and materials in original ways, thinking about uses and purposes. They represent their own ideas, thoughts and feelings through design and technology, art, music, dance, role-play and stories.

Given the chance, some children at this age might begin to act out their own narratives during play, or create music or art in response to stories. A good way of encouraging young fertile imaginations is to have lots of props close to hand at all times.  Dress-up boxes, arts and crafts corners and musical instruments that are easy to make noise with are all useful items to have lying around the house.

Imaginations can also be fed with trips to places in real life, and a trip to the seaside/zoo/park can be a great starting point for movement games, painting, story creation or pretend play. There are lots of great ideas for creative activities in our resources section.

This could be your new wallpaper

This could be your new wallpaper


Not-so-imaginary friends

Not-so-imaginary friends

Exploring and using media and materials

Humming and singing along to tunes, imitating movement to dance and tapping out rhythms are all examples of how a child can find their way in the world using different media. What's more, making things using a variety of different materials and realising that different tools have different purposes help children of this age to make a variety of different products, exploring mixing colours and materials together. Children might...

...sing songs, make music and dance, and experiment with ways of changing them. They safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function. [Early Learning Goal]

A great amount of the development that occurs during this period is as a result of children being in a fun and enabling environment. Introducing children to new materials and new tools at this age is a great way to start set them off on hours of fun. Having a 'holding bay' is a good idea in this area -- a place where you can leave work for a while and come back to it to see whether you want to make any changes to it.


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