By Raising Children Network
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Preschooler with playdough
Creative play and artistic activity are important to children’s overall development. Preschoolers typically enjoy creative activities that allow them to express ideas and feelings. These activities also help them develop fine and gross motor skills.

Why creative play is important for preschoolers

The preschool years can be one of the most creative times in a child’s life. While your child’s imagination is still developing, drama, music, dance and visual art:

  • foster creativity
  • help your child express her feelings
  • help develop her motor skills
  • give her a chance to try out her problem-solving and thinking skills
  • shed new light on existing situations, and help her find new ways of looking at things.
Read our article on encouraging creative development for tips and ideas on creative play with your preschooler.


Preschoolers use songs, dress-ups, art materials, language and movement to express feelings, experiences and ideas. Sometimes your child might prefer to tell stories alone – at other times, he might enjoy it more if you join in.

Your preschooler will often use new songs and stories as the basis for her play. This might involve quickly switching roles – one moment she’s a queen eating bread and honey, and the next you’ve got a little cow jumping over the moon!

Preschoolers often get completely involved in stories. For example, when you read your preschooler a story, you might notice him moving his arms, legs or face, mimicking what’s happening in the story.

Visual art

Preschoolers love to express themselves and their ideas using crayons, paints, playdough, clay, scissors, glue and paper.

Your child will begin making basic shapes, and might enjoy experimenting with texture, space and colours in pieces of art. For example, preschoolers will often draw houses with shining suns above them – this is because this picture is made up of very basic shapes, including a square house, triangular roof and round sun.

As children develop, their artworks contain more and more detail. Drawings of people are usually basic figures to begin with. Realistic shape, scale and other characteristics come a little later.


As with art materials, preschoolers use musical instruments (including their own voices) to express feelings and ideas.

Your child will enjoy singing just for the sake of singing. She’ll love songs with repetition and simple melodies. She can make up her own words to familiar songs, and words often come from the events and people around her.

Your preschooler will usually be able to recognise and name favourite songs, and sing parts of them fairly accurately. You’ll quickly come to learn his favourite nursery rhymes off by heart! Singing along also helps children understand the differences between fast and slow, long and short, and loud and soft.

Preschoolers might also enjoy group singing games and finger plays – for example, ‘Open Shut Them’ or ‘Where is Thumbkin?’

You and your child might enjoy our Baby Karaoke feature, which offers nursery rhymes and songs to sing along to.


Your preschooler will show that she’s developing control of her body by moving spontaneously to music.

Your child might also express feelings of sadness, happiness, joy or excitement through movement – not to mention a temper tantrum now and then!

You might find your child flying like a butterfly, creeping like a caterpillar, hopping like a frog, or tiptoeing so as not to wake the baby. These play movements are helping him understand more about the world. Encourage this activity by giving him props – for example, your child could wave around a scarf to represent flight.

Dance is more than just a creative art form – it can play a critical role in the development of a child’s gross motor skills. And, like many kinds of play, it can help develop other skills. 
  • Last updated or reviewed 03-11-2011