How can I be more creative?

  • Be inspired by our guest bloggers from Rachel Keeling nursery school who shared about their clay and sculpture project
  • Have a read of The beauty and chaos of free play blog. I was comforted by the image of a well used and played in space and the quotes of Vivian Gussin Paley and Alison Gopnik. It states

Alison Gopnik, in her book The Gardener and the Carpenter, muses that children are designed to explore and that “the messiness of children makes a special contribution to human evolvability.” (p. 31-32) I take heart in this message, especially as I think of the creative energy and the jubilant manipulation and transportation of materials and loose parts I witness in my own Kindergarten classroom each day and the resulting chaotic mess of those materials that often results.

We sometimes might use the word “mess” as a negative term but it makes for exciting, productive, involveing and absorbing play with materials for great fulfilling practice and amazing outcomes too. This encourages me to continue in the messiness of creativity because there are new ideas being born. 

Providing rich mixed media and materials for young children to experience and encounter enables them to explore with all their senses, make meaning and use them as languages for expression.

  • You might enjoy reading and reflecting on this Drawing and meaning making blog by Debi Keyte-Hartland, one of our Associates who offers us such depth in thinking about children’s meaning making through creativity. In her blog (dated March 5th 2017) Debi offers this reflective advice for our practice
  1. Be open – to the complex and fluid thinking and action of children
  2. Hold an awareness – of our our positioning as audience or partner in drawing
  3. To recognise – that their meaning making is neither fixed or static
  4. To act in researchful ways  – to listen and look out for the connections and interdependencies that become visible (or remain invisible) between the context – maker – audience that are not always logical in order, or sequence
  5. To adjust our pedagogy – to see drawing and other forms of making thinking visible as an encounter or event with many possible directions and not a simple linear journey from developing skills and understanding affordances to expression and communication of a singular thought.

Creativity and the brain

This article about Creativity in early brain development  by Earlyarts is worth a read, saying: 

Given the impact on brain development that early experiences have, it is not surprising that several studies have uncovered significant long-term impacts of creative environments. They highlight how creative activities that encourage positive relationships can support the rapid blooming of synapses, leading to the formation of well-rounded personalities, good attachment, self-esteem and better mental health.[2]

Research shows how some  musical approaches can activate the same areas of the brain that are also activated during mathematical processing. It appears that early musical training begins to build the same neural networks that are later used for numerical tasks.[3] In fact, a large body of evidence suggests that music-making in early childhood can develop the perception of different phonemes and the auditory cortex and hence aid the development of language learning as well as musical behaviour.[4]

The transformative power of music has recently been highlighted by Sir Ken Robinson on social media. He shared this article about Kenny G from the USA and how the teaching of music in primary school shaped the musician’s life. It is very inspirational. His whole learning journey was immersed and influenced by music and great music teaching, taking up the piano at age 6 and saxophone at age 10.

Many of us use music as part of the multi-dimensional, multi-sensory teaching and learning in the early years. If you haven’t seen the Tune into Listening free resource it is well worth a look to enhance your provision and reflect on your current auditory environment. There are many informative sections covering a wide range of aspects and you can print out the reflective questions and resources. 

How can we provide for more creativity?

Play can be so absorbing when time, space and freedom support a well resourced environment. 

Try these 12 ideas

  1. Give freedom for children to try out things without stepping in.
  2. Instead of stepping in and interacting or intervening, try watching and waiting to see what the child does.
  3. Try to resist intervening to help or change or suggest.
  4. Provide an enabling environment with time and space for children to think, do and follow through their ideas.
  5. Use video or photos to support your observations. 
  6. Use the observations or video to further analyse or share with others to notice things you might have missed.
  7. Think about resources that you could keep out or keep so that children can follow up ideas the following session.
  8. Think and reflect on the purpose of tidying something away or throwing away a resource.
  9. Consider adding or supplementing the resource to enrich it.
  10. Have open access to many other creative resources at child level.
  11. Enable children to self-choose tools and equipment.
  12. Observe levels of involvement and persistence as the child discovers and plays.

It is enlightening and powerful to notice how young child can lead their own learning, initiating and following through ideas. They can be completely absorbed in following their creative ideas given supportive conditions.

Page updated Autumn 2019 by Cathy Gunning.

Further reading

Children as artists

Young children are artists. They use all sorts of materials to show what they have noticed about the world. They might draw the rain falling

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Messy play

Messy play provides so many explorative and investigative experiences, which promote so many of the characteristics of effective learning.  Some easy ideas to start you

Read More »


Play with clay Clay is natural, it comes from the earth. It is cool to the touch and soft on our skin. It has a

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