Creative play: why it’s important for school-age learning and development

School-age children usually take a keen interest in creative arts and artistic activities. Creative activities and creative play support your child’s learning and development by:

  • encouraging your child’s creativity and visual expression
  • helping your child to express feelings, thoughts and ideas in verbal and non-verbal ways
  • getting your child to think about problems with more than one answer
  • helping your child to think about issues from many perspectives
  • encouraging your child to use materials and media to solve problems.

Our ideas for school-age creative learning and development can you get you started on fun and creative activities with your child.

Learning and development through drama

School-age children often make up and act out their own stories using simple props like dress ups, cooking utensils, sticks, puppets and so on. Music and songs can also be fun props – you might notice your child acting out the lyrics as he listens to music or watches music videos.

Also, your child might act out roles – like a caring vet or a stern police officer – which helps her see the world from someone else’s point of view. This kind of role play and storytelling builds communication skills and helps your child to express feelings. And it gives your child the chance to work out real-life problems, like what to do when a person or a pet is sick, or someone is angry.

Learning and development through arts and crafts

School-age children might use colours, textures and shapes to communicate feelings, ideas and messages. For example, they might use lots of bright colours to show happiness. They might also use symbols and words to show the difference between things or add meaning to drawings.

You might notice that your child has a better understanding of colour, shapes, patterns and details. For example, your child might be drawing people with five fingers and toes. Where your child used to draw scribbles and squiggles for trees and flowers, now you can see leaves, branches, trunks and petals.

At this age, children can figure out different ways to make what they have in mind – they don’t need parts pre-made for them. For example, they might draw and cut out wings for a craft butterfly, or they might make wings from scrap paper and leaves. Younger school-age children might still need your help to get started.

Learning and development through music

School-age children might use musical sounds to explore their feelings. Often they can talk about how music makes them feel.

Your child might like using music to tell stories too. For example, school-age children often enjoy the classical music piece Peter and the wolf. This piece uses the sound of an oboe to represent a duck, a flute for a bird, and so on. In a similar way, your child might enjoy using sounds to represent characters and events in other stories.

Your child will probably still enjoy making music, either copying songs he knows or making his own music. He might make musical instruments from everyday objects or be interested in using a music app. Your child might also be keen to experiment with volume, echo, rhythm, tempo and pitch. And he might be ready to use musical symbols and notes to learn how to play a piece of music.

Learning and development through dance

School-age children often enjoy moving creatively in response to song lyrics. They have better body control and can move their bodies in more expressive ways. You’ll probably see your child moving more in time with music. She can react to contrasts in the sounds she hears.

Don’t be surprised if your child starts making up dance sequences with friends to popular music or songs.

School-age children are ready for ‘art appreciation’ – whether it’s music, sculpting, pictures or drama. You and your child can talk about art, artists, favourite artworks and reasons for liking certain things. Why not visit a local art gallery, exhibition or production together and talk about what you see?