The importance of creativity in the Early Years Foundation Stage

Dallington School

The importance of creativity in the Early Years Foundation Stage

Expressive Arts and Design is one of the six areas of learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum. This includes: Exploring and using media and materials and Being imaginative. Whilst planning activities, this would include role play, drawing, painting, mark-making, exploring texture. Also; exploring genres of music, sharing songs and learning how to respond to a range of music with movement. The children are always being encouraged to use a variety of tools safely and creatively throughout EA&D activities.

A variety of government documents and research highlights the importance of creativity and critical thinking in all areas of a child´s learning. As well as being a subject in its own right, it is seen as essential across all areas of learning.

The EYFS ensures that creativity and critical thinking are developed through play-based learning across the curriculum. It also stresses the importance of children learning in an environment that encourages exploration and active learning experiences. The EYFS states that play offers significant benefits for children’s cognitive, emotional, social and physical development and is central to creativity. (Craft, 2010)

The psychologist Donald Winnicott suggests that creativity belongs to the feeling of ´being alive´. At Dallington we believe that children need opportunities to take risks and make mistakes, in order to learn and feel safe to be creative. Providing a stimulating and safe environment is essential for children to be able to express themselves creatively and take risks.


´Messy play´ is a very valuable part of children´s creative learning. Having opportunities to play in sand, water, playdough, clay, mud kitchens etc provides children with sensory experiences and it is a time to be inquisitive. ´Messy play´ provides opportunities for children to explore texture, develop fine motor skills, develop eye-hand coordination and gain understanding of their own body space. It provides fantastic opportunities for speech and language development, aids concentration and problem solving skills. When children are engaged in a creative activity, it is the process, more than an end result, which is invaluable to their creative learning.

Ways in which we encourage creativity at Dallington:

  • Encourage children to be curious about and interested in, objects and ideas.
  • Provide high quality child led learning time to encourage children to initiate their own play activities.
  • Encourage children to explore and develop imaginative ideas.
  • Encourage children to explore feelings and experiences through imaginative role play.
  • Encourage children to use objects to represent something else.
  • Provide opportunities for the children to be active and use their senses.

“All people are capable of creative achievement in some area of activity, provided that the conditions are right and they have acquired the relevant knowledge and skills.”

Caroline Sharp NFER, 2004.


 Louise Cheschire

Nursery Teacher and Art Specialist

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