Creative play: why it’s important for preschooler learning and development

The preschool years can be one of the most creative times in a child’s life. While your child’s imagination is still developing, drama, music, dance, arts and crafts can:

  • foster creativity
  • build your child’s confidence
  • help your child express feelings and learn communication skills
  • help your child develop, practise and improve coordination and motor skills
  • give your child a chance to practice decision-making, problem-solving and critical thinking
  • help your child find new ways of looking at things.

Learning and development through drama

Your preschooler will often use new songs and stories as the basis for drama and dramatic play. One moment she’s a crocodile eating chickens, and the next she’s Mook Mook the owl!

Taking on a role and seeing the world from someone else’s point of view helps your child to make sense of the world and express feelings.

Drama and storytelling also give your child opportunities to build and practise vocabulary, use imagination and learn about the structure of stories. Sometimes your child might prefer to tell stories alone. At other times, your child might enjoy it more if you join in.

Preschoolers often get completely involved in stories too. For example, when you read your preschooler a story, you might notice him moving his arms, legs or face and miming what’s happening in the story.

Learning and development through arts and crafts

Preschoolers love to express themselves and their ideas using crayons, paints, playdough, clay, scissors, glue and paper. You might find your child needs help to use thin pencils, scissors or sticky tape.

Your child will begin making basic shapes, and might enjoy experimenting with texture, space and colours in pieces of art. For example, preschoolers often draw houses with shining suns above the roof. This is because this kind of picture is made up of basic shapes like squares, triangles and circles.

Craft activities also let your child make decisions for herself. For example, should be roof be red or blue?

Musical learning and development

Preschoolers use musical instruments – including their own voices – to express feelings and ideas.

Your child will enjoy singing just for the sake of singing. He’ll love songs with repetition and simple melodies. He can make up his own words to familiar songs, and words often come from the events and people around him.

Your preschooler can usually recognise and name favourite songs, and sing more of them. Singing helps children understand the differences between fast and slow, long and short, and loud and soft.

Preschoolers might also enjoy group singing games – for example, ‘My daddy ate an apple’ or ‘The wonky donkey’.

Can’t remember the words? Our Baby Karaoke has words and animations for old favourites and new songs that you and your child can enjoy.

Learning and development through dance

Music and movement helps your child’s physical and concentration skills. Your preschooler can move fast or slow, or make up actions and dance moves to go along with music.

Your child might also express feelings of sadness, happiness, joy or excitement through movement. For example, your child might jump for joy or stamp angrily.

You might find your child flying like a butterfly, creeping like a caterpillar or hopping like a frog. These play movements help her understand more about the world. You can encourage this activity by giving her props. For example, your child could wave around a scarf to pretend she’s flying.

Our ideas for preschooler creative learning and development can you get you started on fun and creative activities with your child.

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