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Curriculum > Preschool > What We Teach > Creative Arts

Creative Arts

girl using clay

The Value of the Arts for Preschoolers

Art should be an integral part of every early childhood program. Arts experiences in preschool not only contribute to children's artistic and creative development but also to a wide range of skills in other areas, including perceptual, cognitive, language, and social skills.

Artistic development in HighScope classrooms focuses on the five areas identified in HighScope's preschool key developmental indicators (KDIs) for creative arts. A brief summary of each area follows:

KDIs in Creative Arts

  1. Art: Children express and represent what they observe, think, imagine, and feel through two- and three-dimensional art.
  2. Music: Children express and represent what they observe, think, imagine, and feel through music.
  3. Movement: Children express and represent what they observe, think, imagine, and feel through movement.
  4. Pretend play: Children express and represent what they observe, think, imagine, and feel through pretend play.
  5. Appreciating the arts: Children appreciate the creative arts.

Art. In HighScope classrooms, children’s sequenced experiences with art materials are built on a knowledge of the developmental stages in making and appreciating art. Art activities are also used to promote and enhance children’s learning in literacy (e.g., writing and illustrating stories, labeling pictures), mathematics (e.g., sequences and patterns), and other cognitive and social areas.

Music. Music experiences center on moving to music, exploring and identifying sounds, exploring the singing voice, developing melody, singing songs, and playing simple instruments. Opportunities to integrate movement and music with literacy, math, and other content domains are included throughout the daily routine.

Movement. Movement experiences focus on purposeful activity involving both movement and music. Systematic instruction help young children build capacity and an awareness of the body’s potential to move and create sound. Using sequenced activities in movement, teachers work with children as they learn to express creativity in movement. For more information on HighScope's Education Through Movement Curriculum, see the Movement and Music section of this website.

Pretend play. Pretending or dramatic play is commonplace in developmentally based early childhood programs. HighScope deliberately capitalizes on the learning opportunities inherent in children’s role playing and representational activities. Children are encouraged to act out stories they know or to create play scenarios from their life experiences. These activities are an important avenue for learning language, literacy, and interpersonal skills. Children are actively engaged in creating dialogue and props, using a wide range of language and artistic skills.

Appreciating the arts. Most early childhood programs focus exclusively on young children creating art. HighScope also emphasizes the importance of appreciating art. The arts also present opportunities to involve families and connect children to the artists, art venues, and culture in their community.

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