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Early Childhood Education February, 2012 - Creativity

SOCIAL * PHYSICAL * INTELLECTUAL * CREATIVITY * EMOTIONAL * SPIRITUAL Intentional programming to develop the whole child Observe - Assess - Plan - Implement - Observe

Creativity is the doorway to possibilities. Creativity is more than paint brushes and dress-up play. Creativity gets a special place in my developmental programming acronym, “SPICES”, because when I developed the concept I wanted to insure that I was remembering to include a

variety of opportunities for children to explore and expand their creative skills. Why is this so important? Creative thinkers can think outside the box. They can brainstorm solutions to problems, conflicts, and personal challenges, which is very empowering. Our society today, sadly, is filled with situations of bullying, abuse, and domineering expectations. I want children to feel that they have options; I want them to be able to think of ways out of situations other than bottling

Putting the SPICES in life

things up until they explode and doing something terrible. I want children to be able to express themselves verbally and artistically and in the process be able to learn about themselves, share with others and contribute to the greater good. Creativity opens the doors to happiness and fulfillment.

A LOOK INSIDE 3 Boundaries 4 It’s “All In The Timing” 5 Guiding Creative Thinking 6 E.L.F. & Creativity 9 Creative Ideas 10 Feedback 14 The Meaning of Creativity

Creativity thinking problem-solving expressing living Photo Source

What does “creativity” really mean? Definition: “the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination” (Source) Perhaps an important addendum to this definition is that “new” may refer to an individual in one particular moment, in one particular situation and not just to “new ideas” to society as a whole. This, to me, broadens our awareness of our role in helping children expand their creative thinking. I recently read a wonderful article on creativity that expands on this perception of creativity. The author, Sandeep Gautam, breaks creativity down into four components: divergent and convergent thinking, usefulness, and beauty. For me, any idea is a good idea, “but” to take the idea to a new level one must be able do some creative thinking to envision the possibilities and to fine-tune the idea, if necessary, to make the idea meaningful in some way. This, I believe is a component of “living with purpose”. And how do we nurture this creative ability? We provide the paintbrushes and dramatic play clothes; we guide their thinking with questions; we role-model by brainstorming out loud and by including thoughts about usefulness; we live creatively and with purpose. The stupidity of people comes from having an answer for everything. The wisdom of the novel comes from having a question for everything'. Milan Kundera

Online Websites (quotes: from the respective sites)

1. Creative Thinking “new research hinting that creativity and intelligence are opposed to each other.” 2. Virtual Tours this is a great site for taking children on “virtual tours” around the world 3. Developing Creativity “When people do not expect a reward, they are more creative and enjoy the process more.” 4. Schools Kill Creativity? TED Talks Video with Ken Robinson 5. Encouraging Creativity “Creativity involves adaptability and flexibility of thought.” 6. Creativity & Play “There is nothing more satisfying and fulfilling for children than to be able to express themselves openly and without judgment.” 7. Ways Not To Kill Creativity “Making an idea my own means that I choose it, improve it, shake it, pound it, deconstruct it, reengineer it, materialize it, test it, internalize it, and so on.” 8. Nurturing Creativity “Everybody is born with creative talent, but how do you discover it?” 9. Frontal Cortex “we trade away the ingenuity of our youth for executive function.”

SOCIAL healthy interactions with others

PHYSICAL fine, gross, and graphomotor skills

INTELLECTUAL cognitive, academic, language skills

CREATIVITY thinking, creating, expressing skills


Balancing Creativity With Boundaries Can we stifle creativity? Of course we can ... and we do, in many ways. Some children, of course refuse to be stifled and are often labeled as difficult children. Some children tone down their creativity and find ways to work within the boundaries set by adults and by society. And, sadly, some children retreat into a shell of conforming, doing what is expected (real or perceived) and just chug along with life. Does this mean, then, that we should just let children do whatever they wish? Looking at recent history, I think we can see that that is not the best option. Children need boundaries. They need to have limits to feel safe; they need adults to guide their choices with words of wisdom that are based on experience and knowledge. Children also need to hear the “no’s”, to learn how to cope with the “no” and, of course, work around it, finding alternative solutions to the situation. Balanced living is about being able to be creative AND to conform to the norm when appropriate. Creative thinking includes being able to recognize the right time for the right strategy. Sometimes, the most challenging part of being a mentor is stepping back and letting things unfold even though it doesn’t fit within our own style or if we know that there will be some negative outcomes. We, too, have to use our creative thinking to assess when to step in and when to step out.

self-awareness, esteem, management

SPIRITUALITY respect for all things, greater good

Creativity & S.P.I.C.E.S conflict resolution activity choice artistic expression dramatic play adaptations to projects mixing of toys/resources expanded storytelling exploration of materials questioning listening

Creativity In The Arts 1. From the Experts Introduce samples of an art form into the classroom Picasso, The Canadian Tenors, Michelangelo, Mozart, local talent 2. Provide the Tools Provide the tools of the trade and demonstrate how to use them appropriately and how to care for them

It’s “All In The Timing” We can block creativity by setting boundaries as well as a variety of other ways that unintentionally stifle the skill. How do we know what the impact is that we are having? Questions we should be asking ourselves include: Are we intruding? Do the children need us at this point? How can we enhance their play? Do I have knowledge and skills that add to the activity? One philosophy of early childhood education is that the teacher should be engaged with the children at all times, asking questions, labeling what they are doing, etc. Imagine yourself concentrating on an activity and someone asks you lots of questions and narrates a play-by-play description of what you are doing. Are you able to focus? Or is your creativity stifled and your thinking skills clouded? When is the right time to participate in an activity? There isn’t one specific answer: we can ask questions to help children find their own answers; before and after we can ask questions to guide their thinking; we can ask if we can join them; we can interject and return to observing; and we can use the children’s reactions to judge whether we are enhancing or stifling. Or we may choose “education” over “creativity” for the moment. There are many options.

3. Explore the Techniques Help the children explore the standard techniques 4. Create Once they know the rules they can explore the boundaries and beyond, mixing tools and techniques and inventing their own 4. Check in Check in on your own participation - are you stifling or encouraging creativity?

Or ... Provide the environment for the children to explore the tools without preconceived ideas of their uses and the techniques to use them and see where their creativity leads them.

Guiding Creative Thinking Let’s start with intention: what is it that we want our children to be able to do? * * * * * * * *

think of options ask questions research think outside the box mesh information together predict, estimate analyze and so on

Knowing the type of thinking that we want our children to be able to do gives us the information about how we guide their thinking. We can: * ask them to guess what storybooks are about, helping them to use pictures and known words as cues. * have them estimate the number of items in a collection. * help them do their own research, when they ask a question. * use prior experiences to help them make choices in the present. * we can encourage them to make use of materials available to make their own items instead of providing resources.

* ask questions like, “What would you do?”

Adding To The Toolbox * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

What would happen if...? What can we use for...? How many uses for this? What did we learn...? What if we mix these? What are other options? Have you tried...? What is your intention? What questions can we ask? Would you do it differently next time? What do you think that person is trying to do? How would it make you feel if...? Have you ever seen/tried this before? and -- the options are endless!

Dramatic Play Little Johnny just came back from the doctor... What did you see in the doctor’s office? •a white coat: Was she wearing it, or ...? •a table with a paper sheet: What do you think the paper was for? • a thingy that she wrapped around my arm: Tell me more about that! •a stethoscope like the one in our doctor’s kit: “How did she use it? Do you know how to make your heart beat faster? • piles of papers on her desk: “Perhaps that was your files; all the records from your visits.” “We could set up a doctor’s office in our room. What do we have that looks like things a doctor would have in his office?

(View Video)

The intention of education Are we on the right track? Knowing how children learn and knowing what our goals are helps us be creative in our teaching strategies.

“Problems are nothing but wake-up calls for creativity.” Gerhard Gschwandtner Do you solve problems for children? Do you eliminate problems before they even occur? Multiples of the same toys, perhaps? Are you unknowingly “stifling” their creativity? Unleash their creativity and celebrate the problems.

Stifling Creativity: “Many organisations claim they want to foster creativity—and so they should—but unintentionally, through their working practices, creativity is killed stone dead.” - Teresa Amabile’s Findings We can block creativity and it can happen in the office, in business, and in the classroom. Are you blocking the possibilities or have you created an environment and a program that opens the doors to opportunities? Here, in this article, are “6 Ways To Kill Creativity”: involving roles, resources, freedom, diversity, encouragement, and support.

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and have forgotten the gift.” Albert Einstein It’s important to find that balance between that of the academic and procedure and that of creative thinking, thw wisdom that comes from within.

Creativity is more than a new idea: it is "collapsing two different perspectives into one... and this changes the way we look at or understand the world and it changes the meaning associated with those two perspectives because we see a new relationship it can be and the fancy name of this, of course, is creativity [...] a process and an attitude that embodies trust, humility, courage, integrity, honesty, and dignity" Seung Chan Lim

Quote: I’m going to give you some advice that might be hard to take. That advice is: Work alone - Steve Wozniak (Apple Computers Co-Founder) (Read more about this quote) What does this mean? It means letting the thoughts flow, uninterrupted by others and their creativity. It means thinking, exploring ideas, etc, at one’s own pace, using one’s own pathways of experiences, of thinking and of possibilities. Do you provide children space and time to “be” and to “think” by themselves?

“Creativity Is Just Connecting Things" — Steve Jobs (Apple Computers Co-Founder) After time alone, we can enhance the creativity by joining the group, by mixing ideas, by challenging ideas, by inspiring and being inspired by others. In a video by MicheleCassou (video) she has set up the environment for the young painters so that they each have their own space for individual creating plus a group space where they access the paints and mesh their energies, enhancing the creative process.

Finding that balance - private space and group space; private think and group think


infants justo

But tristique odio lectus ac velit. Aliquam elementum magna a erat. Duis urna erat, consecteMauris lacinia Interest tuer nec lobortis non blandit 1.1 Social Consectetuer Class aptent non, est. Curabitur porta lac- • seeking adults forest. play, tacitiarms sociosqu ad litora inia mi. Sed nec nisl nec urna stretching to be picked torquent per conubia nostra consequat commodo.

Social 3



Social 7

Social 16


SetInteracting amet lacinia with Adults 1.9

15 Lorem ipsum dolor Emotional

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2.3 Sense of Self ing elit. Pellentesque nunc

2.5 ing Autonomy elit. Pellentesque nunc

2.5 Regulating Attention... ing elit. Pellentesque nunc tel-

Consectetuer aptent • seeing adultsest. asClass resources sociosqu and ad litora in taciti exploration problem torquent per conubia nostra. solving

briefly with peers

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opportunities to makeac.things eget, bibendum happen yet limited understanding of consequences of own actions


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• initiating activities tellus, iaculis quis, volutpat • setting goalsac. and eget,own bibendum

persisting in achieving them • rejecting the intrusion of redirection, saying “no” and “I do”

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• delaying lus, iaculisgratification quis, volutpat eget, • persisting when frustrated bibendum ac. • increasingly coping with

challenges and disappointments • using effective strategies forMauris self-calming ipsum lacinia


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3.3 Expressive Language Skills

3.1 Receptive Language

3.12 Understanding of Orientation [print]

• vocalizing to initiate social

This chart shows just some of the skills developed through CREATIVITY

preschool quam

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• increasing awareness of tellus, iaculis quis, volutpat


toddlers velit

contact • babbling using a wide variety of sounds

• listening to stories • responding to names of

body parts,commands and personal pronouns

•pretending to read • using paper and pencil to

scribble • pretending to write and writing letters and words




4.5 Spatial ProblemSolving

4.7 Symbolic Thought...

4.18 Identifying Patterns

• using objects to stand for

• representing patterns with

involving barriers by moving over, around or through barriers

other things • acting out simple themes in pretend play: cooking, caring for babies

movements and with symbols • identifying, creating, copying and extending a variety of patterns (e.g., sound, colour, shape, number, etc.)




5.3 The Senses - Touch

5.3 Sensory Exploration

5.4 Auditory Skills

• touching, rubbing,

• using all senses in the ex-

• making choices and

squeezing materials

ploration of properties and functions of objects and materials

demonstrating preferences in music

• solving spatial problems

Shadow Play

On a sunny day play “shadow play”. One child poses, creating a shadow sculpture, and another child tries to make his/her shadow to match.

Physical Activities

It is through movement that the ability to problem solve first develops. Therefore, let the children crawl on the floor, climb onto the couch, squeeze into tight locations and out again (up to safety limit of course). Let them: climb trees, run the vacuum cleaner, peddle a bicycle, and slide down a hill.  Motor develop builds more than just their muscles.  It builds their future!

A Class Museum

Visit a museum: discuss with the children what they saw, how it was laid out, how the exhibits were interrelated; find out what types of advertising the museum uses; do the exhibits remain the same; create a plan with the children for their museum - name it, describe the exhibits... Create it, advertise it, invite the guests and prepare the tour guides! Read more here >>>


Hole Art

Candies, Math & Art

Art Folder

Quote: 'the whole underlying philosophy of photography in the academic field is to encourage children to look for certain things in the world around them, and to demonstrate that they have seen by recording it with a photograph' ~ Phillip Dawson

From predictions, to observations, to creativity. Check out this math art activity here >>>

What if?

Play the “what if” game. What if everyone’s feet were the same size? What if bees roared like lions? What if we had wings? What if everyone had the giggles at the same time? What if you asked for a cookie and I said, “no”?

Can I?

So, what if you did ask for a cookie and I said, “no”. What would you do? And what if I said “yes”? This is a great process to help children prepare for disappointments and to create back-up plans. Resiliency in the making!

Good Idea / Bad Idea

I like milk and I like cookies. What if I put my cookies in my milk? When is it a good idea? When is it a bad idea? How do you know?

Cut a hole in a piece of paper. Let the children create a picture incorporating the hole into their creation.

Use a folder, scrapbook, or photo album to gather artwork creations. This is a great way to display art as well as observe progress.


And do worksheets have a place for preschoolers? I loved worksheets when I was little. I couldn’t get enough of those workbooks that were sold at the time. I loved practicing the letters, the counting, the shapes, and whatever else I could get my hands one. For me, they were a treasure! Did they stifle my creativity? Not at all. For me, they enhanced it because they gave me the tools to create in a way that I enjoyed - with the written word. Are worksheets for every child? No. For some, they are “stifling”. Do they still serve a purpose? Perhaps they give children the experience with a tool they will be using when they enter school. If so, then we should make it available and make it a fun experience.

Skill Journal

Take photos of different activities, skills, techniques. Let the children have easy access to the book so they can be reminded of items from the past. Perhaps they will want to do it again or maybe mix new techniques with old ideas. Ex. We used bingo dabbers for painting; what if we dabpainted using paintbrushes?

The Amazing Things Children Say

We may laugh at the funny things children say but if we listen - really listen - we might be amazed at their wisdom and at how creative their minds are when figuring out the world. Check out some of these quotes and tell me that you didn’t learn a thing or two! (And be sure to read the comments as well.)

The Class Environment

Out of Sight Out of Mind

Accessibility to resources is important for creating. Some creative minds are triggered into action by visual stimulation. A little bit of this, some of that, and voila something new. Does your creative shelf have a variety of tools available or just the item of the day? Consider: As you introduce a new tool, exploring how it can be used, how to use it properly and how to care for it, add it to the creative shelf for future activities. It won’t be long and the children will be creating with scissors, eye droppers, paint brushes, cameras, etc.

Does the environment invite curiosity? Exploration? Questioning? Experimenting? Sensing? Reading? Acting? Building? Mixing and matching? Learning through accidents? Through making messes? Through cleaning it up? Are there a variety of colours, textures, sounds, tastes, and shapes? Are their mechanical items, computerized resources, bolts of cloth, and open-ended materials?


Why: a great question to ask, to figure out the workings of the world and of people. “What do you think?” is a great response! Find out how they interpret their world; research, together, to find the technical answers. And do some “what if”creative thinking - what if some of their answers were correct. How would that impact the world?

The Blank Wall

And how would the children decorate a blank wall? Artwork? Posters? Bulletin boards? Nothing but shadow dancing?

Colouring Inside And Outside The Lines

There is a time for “in” and there is a time for “out”. Each serves a purpose and is a great skill to have - especially when you know when to use which method. If you want to encourage “inside the line”, put on that thinking cap and come up with some creative ways to make the “inside” approach interesting! Ex: Have you tried being a detective, using a magnifying glass to get up close and personal with the line?

Unfinished Work What do you do with unfinished work? How long can it stay put, letting the children expand on the creation? Minutes? Hours? Days? Weeks?

Types of Thinkers Introverts; Extroverts; Handson Experimenters; Observers; Help all children feel good about their styles of learning!

Process Vs Product (My personal story) My ECE training promoted "process not product" and it was frowned upon to use craft activities where a specific product was to be made. Although I believed in the "process" objective I couldn't get my head around why it was wrong to have product activities. I looked at what each style taught children:

Process * * * * *

creative thinking problem-solving free expression exploration emotional well-being, expression * individualism

Product * * * *

following directions self-control skill-building ability to reproduce something specific * boundaries / social expectations * individualism while being part of a group I believe it is important to let children and to teach children to express themselves freely,

to explore materials in their own way, etc. I also believe it is important that they learn how to follow directions and learn how to do certain things in a certain way. We teach them how to properly wash their hands and we can also teach them how to properly make a basic greeting card, for example. Once children have been given the basics, they can then put their creative expression to use to make their own versions or adapt the projects. In the world of photography, I was taught that to be an artistic photographer you have to know the rules before you can break them. I like to break the rules but knowing why the "rules" work helps me break them in a way that is pleasing to the eye, at least to me. When I was in the classroom I provided the following creative activities: * free choice (a multitude of materials and tools always on the shelf and available for use) * molding material / sensory material (ex. playdo) * easel art * creative activity - process oriented * craft activity - product oriented, provided at least once a week

The product-oriented items always included at least one component that they could create/decorate in their own way. Also, depending on the children's ages, there was a lot of leeway re: how precise the directions needed to be followed. In fact, the products rarely if ever looked the same, but they were learning about directions and end results and that was the goal. I also made sure that I had extra materials for the product-oriented crafts. The following day, I would put the extras on the "free choice" shelf, allowing the children to use the materials in their own way or practice the skills explored during the original craft-making. Finding that balance between letting children be children and teaching them how to do things as directed/expected: it can be a challenge.

(This article was first posted here, on my Google+ Page)



“Can you catch the wind? I mean really catch it?� -Isaac

Creativity At Work The following is a representation of a simple creative discussion. going around the circle, participants share their ideas the group facilitator (teacher) leads the process, gradually becoming less involved each circle member has time to think and present his/her own idea circle members listen to and respect all ideas individual ideas are inspirations for others Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps

a participant will make a paper book as well. they will do more paperless activities after discussing the environmental issue. they will record the book on the computer, as an audio file, or as a video. someone will use the shoelace idea for another project. they will use the “pause and think� strategy for conflict resolution. .... oh the possibilities!

Field Trips & Guest Speakers

Art Gallery


Local Artist

High School Art Class

Nature Conservatory

Website Designer



Art Therapist


Dance Studio

Flower Shop

Feedback Appreciated Share your ideas What activities have you used to enhance creativity and what were the successes and challenges? I would like to share some ideas in the next issue.

Read the Past Issue: SPICES & Music

YOUR FEEDBACK AND IDEAS - HERE Share your expertise, your activities, and your stories.

Feedback Music: “I really like the effect on children who are upset when someone comes in and sings a favourite or new song. The tears dry up and a feeling of awe or pleasure appears on their faces.  ~De.


Upcoming Topics The next issue of “S.P.I.C.E.S.” will be looking at empathy. If you have a link or idea that you would like included, please contact me to discuss the possibility.


Newsletter Feedback

1. to publish a few flipbooks 2. assess feedback 3. make decision for future I appreciate any feedback to help me assess how this project progresses.

Your feedback is appreciated. Corrections? Suggestions?



~ Debbie


Creativity - "S.P.I.C.E.S."  

Developmental programming for parents and educators of preschool children

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