Resource List for Encouraging Creativity in Children

Lois Birkenshaw: Music for Fun, Music for Learning

Bev Bos: Before the Basics: Creating Conversations with Children

Bev Bos: Don’t Move the Muffin Tins: A Hands Off Guide to Art for the Young Child
Bev Bos/Jenny Chapman: Tumbling Over the Edge, A Rant for Children’s Play

Clare Cherry: Creative Art for the Developing Child

Clare Cherry: Creative Movement for the Developing Child
Joyce Boorman: Dance & Language Experiences with Children
Anne Green Gilbert: Creative Dance for All Ages: A Conceptual Approach

Anne Green Gilbert: Brain-Compatible Dance Education
Howard Gardner: Multiple Intelligences

Ann S. Epstein/Eli Trimis: Supporting Young Artists
Gordon Neufeld: Hold onto Your Kids
Daniel Goleman
Paul Kauffman Ray Michael: The Creative Spirit Companion to PBS Television Series
Carla Hannaford PHd: Smart Moves:Why Learning is Not all in Your Head
Eric Jensen: Teaching with the Brain in Mind
Alphie Kahn: No Contest and Punished by Rewards
Rhoda Kellog: Why Children Scribble
Steve Kline: Out of the Garden
Richard Louv: Last Child in the Woods, Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder
Viktor Lowenfield: Creative and Mental Growth
Moira Morningstar: Growing with Dance, Developing Through Creative Dance

Colleen Politano Joy Paquin: Brain-Based Learning with Class
Robert Schirrmacher: Art and Creative Development for Young Children
Philip Sheppard: Music Makes Your Child Smarter
Silken Laumann: Child’s Play

WEB SITES…click on Field Services: Arts Education Research…affiliate of above site…lots of research material www.… resource site for storymaking….. resources and books by Anne Green Gilbert (see above)….resource site for using multiple intelligences in the classroom…..if this address doesn’t work do a google search for MI Smart and that will take you to the website brain research and arts education site books, article and resources and official site for Bev Bos

Expressive Arts and the Developing Child

Children are born with the potential to create stories, sing, dance, draw, paint, sculpt and play music. As the young child explores and plays within an art form, he/she is usually fully engaged and having a wonderful time.  Yet there is so much more going on.

Artistic experiences help young brains grow, assist in learning and provide children with valuable life skills.  The arts are a vital aspect of being human, and play a crucial role in healthy growth and development.
The developing brain requires sensory stimulation to grow neural connections and build neural pathways. The arts are multi sensory experiences and provide the young brain with enriched sensory stimulation. Furthermore, artistic experiences  enhance the development and integration of both hemispheres of the brain.  These experiences also  develop the skills of critical thinking, listening and observation.
As children are engaged in the arts they are cultivating all of the multiple intelligences.  Children develop linguistic intelligence as they sing, act, tell  and make up stories.  The patterns and sequences in dance and music develop logical-mathematical intelligence. Visual art develops spatial intelligence and dancing develops kinesthetic intelligence.  The collaborative aspect of the performing arts nurtures interpersonal intelligence – trust, respect and co-operation. Intrapersonal intelligence –  self awareness, self confidence, self respect and self esteem – is nurtured through all of the arts.
The arts provide children with a variety of ways to process information, make cognitive connections and reflect back to us what they are learning and comprehending. In this way children make discoveries about themselves, their environment and other people.
The arts give children access to their creative voice so they can express their thoughts and ideas in their own unique way. Artistic expression also provides children with a variety of methods to express their feelings and emotions. I believe that children who have learned how to do this will be less likely to “act out” or engage in “at risk” behavior.  Such children will have learned how to speak up for themselves and release their emotions in positive ways.  These are all valuable skills that children can use throughout their lives.
The arts can give our children a lifetime of pleasure and enjoyment. Providing young children with plenty of opportunities to express themselves through an artform puts them on the path to a healthy mind, healthy body and healthy spirit.


Parent Workshops in January

The following workshops for parents are sponsored by Vancouver Society for Children’s Centres

Tell Me a Story/Make me a Story
Library Square Children’s Centres
January 12/08
10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Registration: Phone: 604-718-6555
In Person: 250-1166 Alberni Street

Encouraging Creativity in Children
Dorothy Lamb Children’s Centre
January 27/08
10:30 am-12:30 pm
Phone: 604-718-6555
In Person: 250-1166 Alberni Street

Artsplay and the Healthy Adult

Recently my 5 year old friend Matthew told me that grown ups are boring because all they do is work. Sadly I had to agree with him. Adults do work, that’s our job. Children play, that’s their job. How unfortunate that we lose this ability as we grow older. How sad that we become so serious, so wound up, so unbalanced.

The truth is that we need to play as much as the children, and fortunately, it is never to late to put it back into our lives. When we give ourselves permission to play,we give ourselves valuable gifts: the gift of relaxation and renewal, the gift of spontaneity, the gift of the imagination, the gift of the moment, the gift of timelessness, the gift of pleasure, and the gift of reclaiming the self.

A vital, life affirming way to re connect to the gifts of childhood play, is to use the tools of the artist that we were all born with…what I call artsplay. Mucking about with paint and play do, singing songs, dancing, playing dress up and bashing pots and pans are as natural to the young child as breathing. In these early stages of artistic development, children delight in the process of exploration, experimentation and discovery. We can go back to these early stages and re discover the pleasures of childhood. All that is required is a desire to play again. Approaching art from this willingness to play, eliminates the pressure of making “ real ” or “great” art, taking art out of the realm of the “professional” and bringing it back home to the self.

Play through artistic expression has the power of bringing balance and harmony into our lives. Drawing, painting, pottery, sculpting, writing, playing an instrument, singing and dancing removes us from the pressures of day to day life by tuning us in to the task at hand. The creative process takes us out of the logical left brain world where we spend so much of our time, and into the intuitive, imaginative right brain. During this process we are deeply connected to our own life force, expressing our feelings, releasing pent up emotions and tensions and making important discoveries about ourselves. Playing with others connects us to people in a profound way, joining and blending together in the moment, in community.

Approaching art through play, and play through art helps us to grow in new directions, and puts us in touch with the creative spirit, the essence of who we are. And it’s fun.

– Barbara Karmazyn 

Move and Grow

Discoveries in neuroscience have shown that movement plays a vital and crucial role in learning and brain development. In order to fully activate their learning potential children must move. With young children spending more and more time sitting in car seats, baby carriers, and in front of television sets, the potential for growth and learning is sadly limited. Many children don’t even have the opportunity to run about in a back yard or in a playground. By integrating movement experiences throughout the day we can give children the opportunity to grow and learn kinesthetically.

Connection Between Movement and Learning

In Smart Moves: Why Learning is Not All in Your Head, Carla Hannaford, Phd. explains why and how the body grows the brain. She says that all learning in the first15 months of life is centered in the vestibular system,the sensory organs located in the inner ear and the eyes. The first sensory system to develop, it controls our sense of movement and balance, locomotion, muscle tone and precise motor execution. Proper functioning of this system is essential to all higher learning.

Carla also stresses the importance of the corpus callosum, the nerve pathway between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Activating both sides of the brain in unison, is crucial for building neural pathways. Any activity that crosses the mid line assists development.

Cognitive Movement Break (do both several times a day)

Vestibular Stimulation
spin 15 seconds one way….stop for 15 seconds….repeat the other way
it is in the stopping that this system becomes activated

Crossing the Mid Line
crawling is the obvious choice, especially for younger children.
the opposite game:
sit or stand and slowly touch each hand to opposite knee 4-8 times
then hands to feet, shoulders, ears etc
standing helps activate vestibular system re balance

Integrating Movement Throughout the Day

Movement activities assist in development of all the multiple intelligences, particularly kinesthetic. Integrating movement into the curriculum gives children plenty of opportunities to learn through their bodies, shift emotional states and get rid of the “wigglies”. Ideally, follow a Creative Dance philosophy, giving children open ended activities to explore the concepts of movement: body and spatial awareness, force and time (see Anne Green Gilbert’s Creative Dance for All Ages). However, any movement is better than no movement at all.

Cultivate linguistic and musical intelligence by taking nursery rhymes, simple songs and stories into full body movement

Enhance mathematical and musical intelligence by giving children simple rhythm patterns to follow: use body percussion, voice, instruments and then take these patterns into movement

Facilitate interpersonal intelligence by circle dances and partner dances: use a wide variety of music

Develop visual/spatial intelligence by encouraging children to physically explore the concepts of place, directions, levels, size and pathways

Nurture emotional and intrapersonal intelligence by providing a non competitive, encouraging atmosphere

We can enhance the learning environment and the learning potential of each child by providing many opportunities for children to move and grow.

– Barbara Karmazyn

(Published in The Early Childhood Educator, The Journal of Early Childhood Educators of British Columbia  Summer 2003)


*artsplay: Exploratory experiences in dance, music, art and stories

Artsplay Model

Many years ago I came up with the word artsplay to describe what I was doing in my work with young children. In my programs we played with art materials, sang, played with percussion instruments, made up stories and acted them out and we danced. I placed the emphasis on the experience itself not the end result. Artsplay is all about the process, the doing, the enjoyment, the exploration and the experimentation.

In my programs I wanted to give the children opportunities to express themselves through all of the art forms, for the simple pleasure of doing so.

I wanted the children, to experience the joy and pleasure of artsplay, and I wanted them to experience that with no pressure placed upon them. I knew from first hand experience that the pressures to produce or perform, or to do it a certain way, or to be criticized, or judged can destroy the creative spirit, and can have a damaging effect on the emotional well being of a child.

I created stimulating environments full of neat stuff to inspire and motivate the children. I used playful games and activities that gave them the freedom to explore and discover their creative spirit.

I placed the emphasis on the process of the doing, rather than the end result. I didn’t teach steps and patterns. I didn’t provide scripts and models. I didn’t tell them how to do something. I let them figure it out for themselves.  I provided the guidance and encouragement that they needed to feel comfortable enough to explore and experiment. The children thrived. As I began working with adults I continued to use the artsplay model. As with the children, the adults have thrived, and so will you.

– Barbara Karmazyn

*Trademark Disclaimer
As indicated in the above article, I have been using the word artsplay for over ten years. Back then I made a conscious decision not to trademark this word as I believed (and still do) that some words should belong to everybody.  I am aware that other people and organizations also use this word in a similar context. It is not my intention to take anything away from them, and I hope that I am not stepping on any “trademark” toes.  Since we are all doing the same work, I hope that I will be regarded as a colleague rather than a competitor.