The creative arts allow young children to explore and express their individuality, imaginations, and ideas through music, movement and dance, drama, and the visual arts. Through artistic experiences, children are motivated to engage in problem solving as they experiment with combinations of media and creative expression. Opportunities to regularly recognize and discuss beauty in their environment, their work, and in the work of others support young children as they begin to develop their appreciation of the arts.
Preschool teachers can learn as much about children by observing them in the act of creating as they can by examining the products of these acts. The topic of children’s work may reflect their individual interests, while the way they depict the topic may reflect their feelings about that topic, their fine- or gross-motor skills, and their developing perceptual abilities. Teachers can support their creative efforts by observing and talking with them about their work and providing them with strategies that will help them accomplish their artistic goals.
When first introduced to a new element of the arts (a musical instrument, an art medium, or a movement), young children are typically focused on the process of manipulating that element rather than on producing an end product. However, as they are given opportunities to become more familiar with the element, they begin to use it with increasing intent and skill.
It is important to give young children extensive opportunities and encouragement to explore new media so they can begin to use them for expression. Preschool teachers need to provide a rich variety of visual art materials, musical instruments, recordings and experiences, props and materials for dramatizing, and opportunities for movement and dance so the arts are integrated into learning experiences across the curriculum. Accepting the way each child expresses his or her creativity and encouraging experimentation, exploration, and risk-taking as he or she engages in creative work will support a child’s development in the arts.
Benchmarks: Goal 25
Goal 25: Gain exposure to and explore the arts.
25.A Investigate, begin to appreciate, and participate in the arts.
- The Arts
25.A.ECa: Movement and Dance: Build awareness of, explore, and participate in dance and creative movement activities.
- The Arts
25.A.ECb: Drama: Begin to appreciate and participate in dramatic activities.
- The Arts
25.A.ECc: Music: Begin to appreciate and participate in music activities.
- The Arts
25.A.ECd: Visual Arts: Investigate and participate in activities using visual arts materials.
25.B Display an awareness of some distinct characteristics of the arts.
Benchmarks: Goal 26
Goal 26: Understand that the arts can be used to communicate ideas and emotions.
26.A Understand processes, traditional tools, and modern technologies used in the arts.
26.B Understand ways to express meaning through the arts.
Benchmarks: Goal 27
Goal 27: Understand the role of the arts in civilizations, past and present.
27.A Analyze how the arts function in history, society, and everyday life.
27.B Understand how the arts shape and reflect history, society, and everyday life.
- Goal 25: In the K-12 Illinois Learning Standards, Goal 25 reads, “Know the language of the arts.”
- Standard 25.A: In the K-12 Illinois Learning Standards, Standard 25.A reads, “Understand the sensory elements, organizational principles and expressive qualities of the arts.”
- Standard 25.B: In the K-12 Illinois Learning Standards, Standard 25.B reads, “Understand the similarities, distinctions and connections in and among the arts.”
- Goal 26: In the K-12 Illinois Learning Standards, Goal 26 reads, “Through creating and performing, understand how works of art are produced.”
- Standard 26.A: In the K-12 Illinois Learning Standards, Standard 26.A reads, “Understand processes, traditional tools and modern technologies used in the arts.”
- Standard 26.B: In the K-12 Illinois Learning Standards, Standard 26.B reads, “Apply skills and knowledge necessary to create and perform in one or more of the arts.”