Our Creative Journey
Creative play helps children flourish as confident, resilient and happy individuals and it is vital for child development.
Creativity is a key ingredient for children to learn how to follow their curiosity, solve problems and make sense of the world. Our Creative Journey is aimed at promoting good practice in all types of early learning and childcare (ELC) settings, to help all services aspire to be the best they can be and have the greatest impact on children's lives.
In this resource featuring good and innovative practice examples, the Care Inspectorate has shared and celebrated some of the wonderful experiences we are seeing and hearing about when we visit services all over the country. These examples include art, drama, pretend play, music and song, model making, loose-parts play, storytelling and dance. This resource is intended to reflect and encourage the exciting blossoming of expressive arts that we are seeing across services for children.
The examples are available to read by clicking on Creative Examples & Materials below. You can also read about how Our Creative Journey supports the new Health and Social Care Standards. We're inviting services to provide further practice examples for us to share on an ongoing basis in our More Examples of Expressive Arts section.
We feature practice examples from across the full range of ELC service types, including childminders, playgroups and out of school care as well as private and local authority nurseries. This means that ELC provided by the private, voluntary and statutory sectors is equally represented. We have tried to reflect the wide range of children experiencing ELC, from babies through to secondary school age children, and the different needs and backgrounds of children. We have chosen examples from rural as well as urban settings and from deprived as well as affluent communities. Similarly, we have tried to include a wide range of examples and not just services that are most commonly used by children in our communities and not just to showcase a few high-profile services achieving outstanding grades.
Our approach and attitude to creativity as practitioners and role models is important. Knowing when to lead or guide an activity and when to step back and let children develop an experience themselves is a professional skill at the heart of pedagogical practice. Becoming attuned to the children we are working with allows us to support creative experiences in ways that enable them to get on and construct their own worlds.
Our Creative Journey may also be of interest to parents/carers and anyone looking after or working with children or young people, including statutory social work and education, voluntary sector support services and activity -based provision.
Just taking part in expressive arts can be transformative - the end product is not the goal. The approach and attitude with which services embrace expressive arts is as important as the particular chosen activity. Being prepared to explore and experiment, and make mistakes along the way, is an integral part of creativity. And maybe the process of taking detours or getting lost can result in the most inspiring effective journeys.
As with our previous resources, My World Outdoors and My Childminding Experience, Our Creative Journey is based on the Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) wellbeing indicators.
Demonstrating how experiences of expressive arts contributes to children's wellbeing is aligned with the way we now regulate early learning and childcare services, putting children's outcomes at the forefront of our assessments. The approach uses eight areas of wellbeing, SHANARRI or Wellbeing Indicators, which represent the basic requirements for all children and young people to grow and develop and reach their full potential:
The Wellbeing Indicator Spinner is available to download as an activity that practitioners can use. Simply download, print and cut out. You can punch a pencil through the middle and use it as a spinner. When one of the eight edges of the spinner lands on a surface, the relevant practice questions should be discussed.
Care and Learning Alliance (CALA) has been involved with Syrian refugee families since September 2016. Its role has been delivering childcare sessions to children under three years while their parents receive English lessons. As a parent and toddler group, this service is not registered with the Care Inspectorate.
Jayne Watt, Parent Toddler Coordinator, tells their story:
"This piece of work has been rewarding and challenging at the same time. At first the children did not want to leave their parents. We had to spend the two hours just cuddling them and reassuring them that everything was OK. Now they all come straight to us with big smiles ready to learn and play. These four children will be fluent in English by the time they go to school and their parents are so grateful for this opportunity of uninterrupted learning. Providing a wide variety of creative play opportunities has really supported us to build confidence in the children and form attachments with them.
“As the children have grown in confidence, they are happy to stay with us, creating and investigating with the homemade playdough, investigating treasure baskets etc. The parents sometimes have their English lessons in the same room as us and it is nice for them to see their children at play, learning new words and skills. The parents have once or twice stopped their lesson to listen to their children singing or because they hear them laughing when we are playing peek-a-boo.
“The children love song time. At the beginning, they didn’t know any songs or rhymes in English but now they can participate fully with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, doing the actions and humming the tune. They always say ‘again’ when we do Ring a Ring a Roses. Wheels on the Bus is a favourite for them, which has them all smiling and rocking back and forth. They really enjoy using the Bookbug puppets. They like to pick up books and take them to us to look at with them, especially the ones with ‘lift the flaps’ and the ones that make different noises when you push the buttons.
“We provide as many opportunities as possible to enjoy wide open spaces where they can creatively express themselves to music and explore using their bodies in different ways. They enjoy playing on the seesaw, exploring and investigating pasta, oats or coloured rice that we offer in big tubs. They also enjoy getting into the tubs to play!
“Creative play and imaginative arts experiences have played a central role in the work we have been doing here in supporting the children to develop confidence, form attachments and all-round learning and development. It has been especially important for the children who may have had limited opportunity to play or have fun to have play experiences and get the message that there’s more than one way to do something. This allows the children to experience success and most of all have fun.”
Rothiemay Playgroup is located 35 miles east of Elgin in Moray and is registered to provide for 12 children at any one time aged from three years to not yet attending primary school. The group is committee-run and staff are managed by CALA. Rothiemay Playgroup was inspected on 28 April 2015 and received grades of ‘very good’ for care and support, environment, staffing, and management and leadership.
The inspection report noted that children’s physical wellbeing was being actively promoted and that children used their imagination in the mud kitchen, fetching water to water their vegetable seeds, clambering and climbing on the wooden pirate ship and using their balance/coordination through the tyre and wooden plank adventure course.
Jackie Steward, CALA Practice Manager, tells their story:
“We have consistently been focusing on the development of our outdoor area. We are keen to ensure that we utilise and create learning experiences for our children that encourage their natural curiosity and creativity, using as many natural resources as possible in innovative ways.
“We had an empty space by our fence so we worked with the children and parents to identify what we might do with the space. An outdoor music area was decided. We noted the children’s suggestions of shakers and drums and collected resources to use.
“We had an old metal bookrack which we attached to the fence and then used recycled and unused items to create a unique learning space. Old pots and pans, tubs/buckets, a metal grill and bottles filled with rice, pasta, stones etc. are attached to the book rack and fence and we have old spoons and some rhythm sticks, which the children can use to make their music.
“The outdoor music area gives the children the chance to create music in a large open space where they can make as much noise as they would like. It has encouraged children who are less likely to make music indoors and gives everyone the chance to explore different sounds and tempos.
“The children now access the music corner regularly, both individually and as groups, and sing lots of well-known songs as well as making up their own songs. It encourages literacy and numeracy and we often hear the children counting in before they start: ‘one, two, three go!’.
“Along with all the outdoor areas we monitor the music area regularly to see if the children are still motivated and inspired by it. We constantly make changes to it, for example adding things in or only putting out resources that make certain noises or are the same shape . Any changes that are made are noted in our self-evaluation folder and reviewed so see if they’ve worked or not.”
Expressive arts outdoors
Red Squirrel Nursery is located in Dundee and is registered to provide a children’s daycare service for up to 71 children aged under 12 years. It was inspected on 20 January 2017 and received grades of ‘very good’ for care and support, and staffing. The inspection report notes how the nursery engaged the children in all aspects of forest school sessions and that staff linked children’s developing interests between the outdoor and indoor learning environments.
Carole Japp-Aitken, manager, tells their story.
“We are strong advocates of the benefit of outdoor play and learning. Anything you can do inside can also be taken out into nature. We feel the natural environment offers a unique limitless supply of resources to promote creativity, investigation, imagination and problem-solving.
“Our children are also keen artists, using the natural environment and resources to create their own artwork – using sticks and twigs as utensils and trees, stones and logs as their canvases. The outdoor environment turns into an art gallery with painted stones strewed around the forest and decorated logs and sticks hanging from trees. The children have even chosen to make ‘swing pictures’ by painting on paper while swinging back and forward on one of the tyre swings. After using the forest school camp for our nativity setting, the children said that they were very keen that the stage area was kept intact.
“Children are encouraged to explore and express a healthy range of emotions on their ‘outdoor stage’ where they can role play, act out stories and experiences as well as express themselves creatively. They have also shown a continuing interest in music, making songs and sounds using their own natural instruments. Through this creative play, our children have developed confidence and resilience along with the skills needed to communicate their feelings not only to practitioners and carers but with their peers to self-regulate, overcoming conflict without adult intervention.
“We regularly use storytelling both from familiar and favourite books as well as working together to create our own stories to promote children to think and reflect on their own beliefs, develop their understanding about the world and explore their own emotions as well as empathising with others. Our children absorb these stories and use these as a basis for their own role play, re-enacting these stories over and over again.”
Andrea Fernades, parent: “At bedtime now my daughter asks to hear ‘stories coming not from books but from our head’ because staff tell stories that are not in the books, which is amazing! Fantastic! Now, both dad and myself have to invent a story for her and this has been an excellent exercise for us.”
Hazel Moffat provides a childminding service from her home in Perth. She is registered to provide full- and part-time care to a maximum of six children under 16 years. Hazel was inspected on 5 August 2014 and received grades of ‘excellent’ for care and support, and management and leadership, and ‘very good’ for environment. The inspection report noted that the child using the service during that inspection had a warm and trusting relationship with Hazel and responded very well to her.
Hazel discusses two-year-old Maggie’s experience:
“The idea for the story happened from a ‘seed’ moment when the child found a bear in the wild animal box. To engage Maggie with her input and help with the next steps identified in her review with parents, we looked at the pop-up story called We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, which has interactive tabs to help characters move.
“We then found lots of different bears and different textures and had their ideas included in how to retell the story on tuff tray. We discussed what materials could be used to re-enact the story. After nap time, we snuggled on the couch and watched the cartoon version of Bear Hunt and discussed and joined in with the song. We poured and squeezed out paints and then mixed them to make the colour brown and made bears. We have made dark dens and used torches to read the story ‘in a cave’. We have been on several bear hunts up hills and woodland parks to re-enact the story. We even went to Camperdown Park to see real bears!
“In Maggie’s review plan the next steps were to help develop interest in stories and language and to encourage the child to sit longer for story time. This has been successfully achieved and she now takes part enthusiastically at story time. Her attention span is much longer and she can now sit through long stories and asks ‘again please’.
Family First (Housing Support Service) is operated by CALA and is available in Sutherland, Skye and Lochalsh. The service is delivered by coordinators and a team of volunteers and is registered to provide support to parents or carers with children living in the wider community. Family First was inspected on 28 August 2015 and received grades of ‘excellent’ for care and support, staffing, and management and leadership. The inspection report noted that all families who experienced the service were very happy with the care and support being provided, and were very much involved in the delivery of the service.
Family First (Housing Support Service) staff, toddler group facilitators and Gaelic language development workers discuss creativity in the settings.
“Family First staff work in partnership with CALA’s toddler group facilitators and Gaelic language development workers to ensure vulnerable families are integrated and established in their communities. Often due to the rurality of some parts of the Highlands, families can become isolated and staff play a vital role in ensuring inclusion. The service aims to value the uniqueness of each individual family and to help to build on their capacity to become independent and confident contributors to their local community.
“Creative play and imaginative arts experiences play a central role in toddlers’ learning and development. We support young children and parents to explore through a variety of art, craft, sensory and messy play alongside songs, rhymes and movement to music. Creating art is a fine way for toddlers to make choices and solve problems. Every step involves making a decision: what colour to use, how to make a line, what size to make something. Staff support parents to develop their understanding of the value of this play and have a plethora of play ideas that parents can recreate at home in a small-scale inexpensive way.
“For toddlers, creative play is about the process of creating. There’s no right and wrong in how toddlers create and respond to art. Through free-flowing creative play, toddlers can explore the world in their own way, which is important for learning and development.”
Reay Under 5’s Playgroup in Caithness provides sessional day care for up to 20 children from age three to those not yet attending primary school during term time only. They are committee-run and staff are managed by CALA. The group operates out of a well-used village hall which as a result sees the staff setting up from scratch each day and storing everything away again at the end of the session. Reay Under 5’s Playgroup was inspected on 16 June 2017 and received grades of 'very good’ for care and support, and environment. The inspection report noted that the service encouraged children to develop a healthy lifestyle, with play and planting activities outdoors.
Sadie Kevill, CALA Childhood Practice Manager, tells their story.
“We were looking at ways to engage children more with expressive arts. We gave the children the opportunity to paint to the medium of music. We provided different sized paint brushes and other tools to mark make with and secured large pieces of wallpaper, initially along the garden fence. Then we played different types of music while the children painted. To begin with we played either just fast or slow music and from this we observed that most children moved their bodies instinctively to the music while painting at the same time. We saw that their finished painting mirrored the music that was playing. If it was fast music, the paintings were busy with lots of colours and blobs of paint. When the music was slower, more wiggles and curves were seen in the paintings.
“We are now consistently extending this experience for the children. We encourage the children to identify the type of music they want to paint to such as classical music, rock, Scottish etc. Through use of probing questioning such as what they liked/disliked, how did the music make them feel, the children are beginning to verbalise how a piece of music makes them feel. Some will even choose music to match their feelings. We have also noticed more children choosing and participating in arts and crafts now who were perhaps hesitant before.
“We create and express ourselves freely to music now in a variety of ways. For example, we dance with ribbons or hoops and paint inside and outdoors, individually or as part of a larger group, and sometimes even all of us together.
“Practitioners identified that the children were able to engage with the painting while listening to the music and expressing their creativity through their bodies and their minds on their pictures.”
Fortrose Pre-school is a committee-led group 15 miles north of Inverness, offering flexible early learning and childcare to a maximum of 27 children aged from three years to those not yet attending primary school. CALA manages the group on behalf of the committee. Fortrose Pre-school was inspected in November 2014 and received grades of ‘very good’ for care and support, environment, staffing, and management and leadership. The inspection report noted that the staff had created an open and accessible service which encouraged children and parents to take an active and involved role in how the service was managed and delivered.
Catriena Forsyth, Senior Early Years Practitioner, tells their story.
“Fortrose has a strong focus on encouraging children’s creativity, providing a variety of opportunities and experiences through art, dance, music, role play, design and technology and drama. The practitioners nurture children’s individual creativity by building on existing skills to create, think critically, share and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas and develop their own strategies for doing things. An example of this was the Christmas Nativity production.
“In December 2015, the home corner had been rearranged to look like a stable but the children were concerned it had no roof. After discussion, they decided they would have to make one and set about looking at various things they could use. Practitioners supplied some large cardboard tubes and boxes and supported the children with their ideas for the roof, measuring and testing which bits would work and how they would fit it all together. Once they were confident the fit was correct, they then set about decorating it with glue, paint and straw.
“A year later, some children remembered they had made a roof for the stable and set about making it again as a backdrop for the nativity play they were putting on for their parents. During preparation for the nativity play, some children began to make up their own version, clearly inspired by their recent learning around aeroplanes. The children had recently visited the local aviation centre and had created an airport in the home corner, complete with a plane wall with port holes etc. and a scanner. Staff observed children landing their pretend plane in Bethlehem. So, this was incorporated into their nativity play.
“Practitioners also supported children to choose their own roles in the nativity play. Some wanted to be their favourite super hero while others just wanted to be themselves. All this supported the children to feel very confident, take ownership and lead the performance for their family and friends.
“One of the strengths in the staff team is that they encourage the children to try out their ideas and provide them with the materials they need for what they want to achieve. The children are encouraged to develop their own story-making skills and to enjoy performing to one another and to their parents.”
Flock in the Park
Sheephouse Nursery is located in Fauldhouse and is registered to provide a children’s daycare service for up to 43 children aged under 12 years. It was inspected on 2 August 2017 and received grades of ‘very good’ for care and support, and management and leadership. The inspection report noted that children were confident, happy and secure, and felt welcome, safe and had lots of fun when they attended.
Team leader Rebecca Brown tells their story.
“Flock in the Park was created by asking the holiday club what they wanted to do for the last week of the holidays. The children responded with ideas such as a party, balloons, dancing and having fun.
“These ideas grew into an outdoor festival and the children went on to work really hard researching festivals and they loved the idea of having a campsite and a main stage where they were able to pretend to be music stars. They all worked really hard and everyone was able to contribute with planning the event from what food they would have to the layout of the festival.
“The whole process was very child-led. Through the different processes it was great to observe the children develop new skills and gain in confidence. They were also able to form new friendships along the way. On the day, the children had such a great time and it was so good to see all the children and adults coming together and sharing a great experience.”
First Adventures Nursery – Turret Towers is located in Linlithgow and registered to provide care to a maximum of 59 children up to five years old with a maximum of 18 children under the age of two. It was inspected on 16 March 2016 and received grades of ‘excellent’ for care and support, environment, staffing, and management and leadership. The inspection report noted the child-centred approach to how staff gathered and used information about children, involved children in the planning process and how achievements of children, staff and parents were celebrated.
Active Angus at the North Pole
Evelyn Boyd, Nursery Teacher, reflects on the adventures of their nursery bear Active Angus.
“Active Angus is our travelling bear who goes for adventures with the
children. Unfortunately he was left on a bus and lost. The staff decided to create a story to engage the children’s curiosity and imagination. We sent a letter from Angus to say he had been called to the North Pole to help Santa. A magic bell had fallen off his sleigh and he thought it may have landed somewhere near the nursery. The children were very excited to receive the letter and immediately wanted to go and search outside for the bell. Staff had previously hidden the bell in our wild wood area. The children found the bell high in a tree and had to problem-solve to reach the bell. They were then involved in a discussion as to how we could get the bell back to Santa.
“The children had a number of suggestions and decided we should hang it on the Christmas tree in our playroom. The next morning, staff came in early to leave Santa’s footprints leading to the tree. We then got a letter from Santa thanking the children for all their help.
“The children were still keen to keep in touch with Angus and wrote a letter with a member of staff to ask when he was coming back. The staff bought a replacement teddy and sent a letter from Angus to say Santa had asked him to stay at the North Pole to help and he would send his cousin to spend time with the children. We arranged for our manager to buzz the door and bring our new visitor to the playroom. The children were very excited and wanted to send a photograph to Angus to show him they were looking after his cousin, Sam.
“The children then began to take Sam on adventures. This was a fantastic experience for them. They were very excited and motivated by the context and extended their language and literacy skills in the process. When visitors came to the playroom they were very keen to retell the whole story using very good vocabulary to express their ideas. They had a real understanding of writing for a purpose and were very motivated to engage in mark making. When discussing their ideas it was very rewarding to see them listen to their peers and discuss their own ideas and memories of the whole experience.
“Using the planning wall, we shared this whole adventure with parents who gave very positive feedback saying that their children were talking about the whole story at home.”
Examples of the nursery's Consultative Planning and Documented Learning from Possible Lines of Development (PLODs) are available to view at the links below:
Angus and Santa Consultative Planner
Angus and Santa Learning from PLODs
Bob the Gnome
Evelyn Boyd, Nursery Teacher, reflects on an activity involving a gnome which stimulated the children’s imagination and their sense of responsibility.
“The children found a gnome in the Wild Woods. They decided to name him Bob and were concerned that it was raining and he was getting wet. Through quality interaction with the staff, the children decided to build a den for Bob.
“The children self-selected resources and engaged in problem solving with their peers to create a den for Bob. Over the next few days they visited Bob and then decided that they wanted to make decorations for his den.
“Staff engaged in conversation with the children to help them express their ideas and then provided a variety of craft materials for the children to explore and create their decorations. During the course of play they found fairies in the wood and began to create stories about Bob and the fairies being friends.
“The staff engaged in mind mapping exercises to allow the children to revisit their ideas and decide where the children’s interests lay to plan the next steps. The children were keen to write to Bob. Staff facilitated this by providing a range of interesting mark making materials. The staff and children delivered the letters to Bob in his den. Later staff delivered a response from Bob thanking the children for all their letters and explaining the adventures that took place in the wood after dark.
“A few days later the children discovered that the wind and rain had pulled Bob’s den down. There was a discussion with staff on what was the best course of action. Children engaged in cooperative problem solving to rebuild the den and remove the rain and leaves from the roof. The children revisited their ideas in the floor book, sharing their ideas and mark making to represent their thoughts.
“Some of the children then became interested in Bob’s family – this took off through the personal experience of one child who had just become a big brother. These ideas were recorded in the floor book. The interest came to a natural conclusion when the children began to leave the nursery to move on to school.”
Examples of the nursery's Consultative Planning and Documented Learning from Possible Lines of Development (PLODs) are available to view at the links below:
Bob the Gnome Consultative Planner 1
Bob the Gnome Consultative Planner 2
Bob the Gnome Learning from PLODs 1
Diane Connolly provides a childminding service from her own home in Fife. She is registered to provide full- and part-time care to a maximum of eight children under 16. Diane was inspected on 30 January 2017 and received grades of ‘very good’ for care and support, environment, staffing, and management and leadership. The inspection report noted that adult/child interaction was extremely positive and she displayed a calm, caring manner which helped children feel safe, respected and included.
The Christmas Shed
Diane discusses the children’s creative experiences.
“The children were excited and animated about the school Christmas play and reflected on previous nativities we had performed for the parents. They decided they wanted to do it again but this time set in modern times. I asked Daisy, aged 10, if she would like to write the base of the play as I’m aware that she enjoys writing short stories and I knew she would like the responsibility.
“We then had a wee brainstorming chat and wrote down all the children’s ideas and jokes. Daisy then wrote the base script. There were multiple roles. All the children were included and listened to. They planned, designed and made props, bringing things from home. A week before the play, we then added in a new child, Lillie, who was going to be starting with us, so the children all rejigged their roles to include her.
“On the day of our party, we invited the parents along for a cuppa and a mince pie and to watch the play. I was so proud of the way the children all worked together and helped each other. It was a great way to round up for the Christmas break. We have discussed doing it again, so it may become part of our annual Christmas planning or maybe there will be different plays at other times in the year.”
Health and Social Care Standards
The Health and Social Care Standards set out what we should expect when using health, social care or social work services in Scotland. They seek to provide better outcomes for everyone; to ensure that individuals are treated with respect and dignity, and that the basic human rights we are all entitled to are upheld.
Underpinned by five principles; dignity and respect, compassion, be included, responsive care and support and wellbeing; the Standards are based on five headline outcomes:
- I experience high quality care and support that is right for me.
- I am fully involved in all decisions about my care and support.
- I have confidence in the people who support and care for me.
- I have confidence in the organisation providing my care and support.
- I experience a high quality environment if the organisation provides the premises.
All services and support organisations, whether registered or not, are expected to use the Standards as a guideline for how to achieve high quality care from April 2018.
Rather than listing technical inputs expected of providers, the Health and Social Care Standards try to describe what a high quality experience looks like for someone experiencing any type of care and support.
Creativity is identified as a key ingredient of high quality experiences for all adults and children. Creativity is described in the glossary of the new Standards as "includes artistic activities, such as arts, crafts, music, drama and dance."
Our Creative Journey is aimed at affirming the above statement from the new Standards in practice. It's easy to forget how children's early experiences impact on later outcomes, such as how experiencing music and song leads to improved language and literacy.
For children the following Standards then set down further expectations for creative expression:
"As a child, I have fun as I develop my skills in understanding, thinking, investigation and problem solving, including through imaginative play and storytelling." (Statement 1.30)
"As a child, my social and physical skills, confidence, self-esteem and creativity are developed through a balance of organised and freely-chosen extended play, including open-ended and natural materials." (Statement 1.31)
"As a child, I play outdoors every day and regularly explore a natural environment." (Statement 1.32)
"As a child, I can direct my own play and activities in the way that I choose, and freely access a wide range of experiences and resources available for my age and stage, which stimulate my natural curiousity, learning and creativity." (Statement 2.27)
The greatest impact of creative play can be in deprived areas, which fits in with the Scottish Government's overall drive to reduce inequality and the impact of deprivation. Overcoming inequality is also embedded in the new Standards:
"The organisations that support and care for me help tackle health and social inequalities." (Standard 4.2)
Meaningful and high quality experiences in expressive arts can also help looked after children and young people develop resilience in challenging situations and improve negotiating skills. They can support healing for those who have been traumatised, boost self-esteem and provide a chance for fun. Statement 1.29 from the Standards is relevant to this aspect of creative expression: "I am support to be emotionally resilient, have a strong sense of my own identity and wellbeing, and address any experiences of trauma and neglect."
More examples of expressive arts
Services are invited to use this resource and share experiences of their own creative journeys with us, which we will share here on this page. We can host stories, photos, videos and live links to other resources.
If you would like to submit a practice example, please use our Contact page.
Teddy Bear Care Nursery Ltd is a private nursery in Crieff. It is registered to provide full- and part-time care for 48 children ranging from 0 – 5 years. Teddy Bear Care Nursery Ltd was inspected on 06 March 2018 and received grades of ‘good’ for care and support, ‘adequate’ for environment, ‘good’ for staffing and ‘good’ for management and leadership. The inspection report noted that work inspired by ‘Our Creative Journey’ had given the children experiences in art, music and drama supported by visitors from the local community.
Building on creativity
Sharlene Chater, manager tells the story of how the service had developed creativity following the inspection.
“We are very aware that our children have access to various exciting creative activities both indoors and out, but less focus is placed on the appreciation of art forms. I decided that as the Crieff area is home to a myriad of creative people, we should invite these artists in to deepen children’s creativity and imagination through an exploration of their passions.’
Val Clark, a local artist and retired childcare practitioner wanted to show the children that there is more to art than a picture or painting. She brought in an ‘iceberg’ which was a block of ice with miscellaneous objects inside it. The learning intention was to represent art using a different approach, while piquing their curiosity. It promoted problem solving and brought many questions to light. She brought in some of her artwork explaining what had inspired her pieces which developed in to a discussion of their thoughts on her paintings.
‘I very much enjoyed the experience with the children. I planned this activity to help the children understand that Art presents itself in many ways and that you can tell a story in your own way. The children spent a long time exploring and observing the nature of the iceberg alter, the ice creating patterns as it melted’-Val.
‘Artists paint pictures’-James. ‘Wow, that’s beautiful! She used a paintbrush. I like it, it’s got everything, the river and trees’-Lucia.
‘By inviting Val in to nursery, staff have been inspired to move out of their comfort zone and to deliver Expressive Arts from a different angle’-Sharlene.
Behind the Lens
George Carson, actor and director of Blazebuster Productions was approached to enable children to spontaneously use their imaginations to create a short film together.
‘My dream as a teenager was to attend drama school but my parents directed me towards an apprenticeship in motor mechanics instead. However, I continued my love of drama through amateur dramatic groups and since my retirement, I have developed my love of writing and acting through various acting courses at RCS in Glasgow and at the New York Film Academy.’
George and a group of 6 ante and preschool aged children went outdoors for more space for self expression, understanding of lighting and for a sense of freedom while being in the fresh air. The children worked in two teams, taking turns behind and in front of the lens, with George explaining the technical side of film making.
All George used in the film was an empty box and a few wooden balance beams. He peeped inside the box and acted out what he thought might be in the box and the children had to guess what it was. They then took turns playing this game. Their suggestions were very imaginative and involved shrieks of laughter. They then played freely while the camera was rolling and the area turned into a jungle!
‘My aim was to get the children to use their imaginations while learning about the ICT involved in the process. I wanted them to express themselves freely and understand that they were in control of their own story as I filmed them. I loved their improvisation and variety, and was amused that they equated drama with danger! At the end of the session they had become familiar with keeping in the frame and the function of the equipment’-George.
‘The depth of expression and fabulous teamwork that came out of the activity was exciting and rewarding to experience as it was not static in any way. Less intervention proved the key to the spontaneity. We have rediscovered the video camera and endeavour to follow on from George’s hard work’-Sharlene.
‘Actors are on the telly’- Lucia. ‘I watched my friends playing the box game on the camera’- James.
Creative Music Workshop
Jennie Turnbull, a music teacher and her daughter, Eilidh, a keen violinist visited nursery on a couple of occasions to explore rhythm and sound.
‘We were aware that our instruments were not being used creatively and asked Jennie to guide us. We also wanted to show the children how to create sound without instruments, developing a sense of rhythm and creating an awareness of a slow and fast tempo. Jennie focused on the wintry weather, making the sound of rain, wind and storms using parts of the body’-Sharlene.
Jennie commented,’ I wanted the children to engage their listening skills and tune in to different sounds, expressing what they sounded like. We then tapped out beats discerning how to create the sounds of different types of weather. This kept the children busy and involved for a good length of time.’
‘Tapping my fingers sounds like rain and stamping my feet sounds like thunder’- Lucy. ‘I like the violin, it sounds nice’- Amos.
Jennie and Eilidh played different instruments, demonstrating how varying sounds can be made, playing them with fast and slow tunes with pauses for effect, reflection and absorption of the mood. The children were fascinated at how the strings created sound and they enjoyed singing along to well known tunes. As said by Mozart ‘The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between’.
‘Our Creative Journey was empowering for staff and children involved and it reiterated that there is no right or wrong way to express one’s creativity, as the end product is merely a by product of the spontaneous creative process’-Sharlene.
Wellside Kindergarten is located in Falkirk and is registered to provide daycare for up to 48 children from birth to those not yet attending primary school. It was inspected 07 September 2016 and received grades of ‘very good’ for care and support and ‘good’ for staffing. The inspection report noted that outdoor play and learning opportunities were excellent, management and staff were passionate about the outdoors and children were observed to have fun outdoors and be confident and independent, using natural objects to stimulate their imagination.
Outdoor fairies and pirates
Susan Adrian, Manager tells their story.
“The children were showing a great interest in Fairies and Pirates so we decided to encourage children and families to show off their creative side by hosting an outdoor Fairy and Pirate Night. The children were asked, it they wanted to, to make either a pirate ship or fairy house at home with their parents or carers and bring them into the nursery to display at the event.
"Our aim was to encourage a learning link between home and nursery. There was a great response and parents welcomed the opportunity to take part. We were amazed at the standard and thought that was put into each creation. Our staff also made houses or ships to display. We had creations made from clay, recycled materials, wood, cardboard, bottles, boxes and all were beautifully decorated. Many were lit up with fairy lights and had personal touches like photographs. The children added extra touches to the event by designing tea light holders to display around the garden and enhance the magical feel that we were trying to create.
"We offered hot chocolate and the children toasted marshmallows to warm us up on a cold winters night. The children enjoyed showing off their creations to their parents and carers. We were very proud of them all. We took lots of photos and shared these on our digital board. The Falkirk Herald came along and ran a nice article showcasing our houses and how we made links to 'Our Creative Journey'.
"We have very supportive, engaging parents but this event allowed more parents to participate because there were elements of working with children at home. In light of this, the parents, siblings and many grandparents were keen to come along and see their creations. They enjoyed sharing the experience with the children and many commented that it was a good opportunity to see their children engage with friends and allow time for parents to network.
"We feel all the children benefitted and it was nice to see sibling groups sharing the experience. Many of the older siblings who attended used to attend the nursery themselves and enjoyed being back and involved. It was a very family orientated event.
Comments from Parents:
“Just want to thank you and the staff for hosting such a lovely event! It felt really magical when we came in and it was clear everyone had made a huge effort to make the area beautiful, safe and fun! Beth's big brother (unprompted) commented today about how nice the party had been and that he had lots of fun. Thanks to all the staff for going that extra mile - it was really appreciated! Another lovely memory to store away from the nursery years!”
“It was a great idea, Susan – your patience paid off! Nice way to get lots of families mingling, and great to see the kids looking so proud.”
“I thought it was a gorgeous event and well worth with the wait with the odd snowflake falling magically upon us. So many fantastic fairy and pirate creations! Thank you all.”
“Fraser thoroughly enjoyed the fairy/pirate night, especially the marshmallows! It was great to see all the hard work everyone had put in and they were all displayed so beautifully! Thanks again for a lovely evening.”
“Thanks for organising, really nice to have the chance to see Rosie with her friends in nursery.”
Wild Dancing: 50+ Ideas for exploring creative movement outside in the early years
Creative STAR Learning Ltd
Creative STAR Learning provides support, training, advice and resources on all aspects of outdoor play.
Putting Storytelling at the Heart of Early Childhood Practice – a reflective guide for Early Years Practitioners
Edited by Tina Bruce, Lynn McNair and Jane Whinnett
Health and Social Care Standards
The Health and Social Care Standards set out what we should expect when using health, social care or social work services in Scotland
Improvement support section
An introduction to the Improvement support section and quality improvement methodology.
Playgroups and Nurseries
Daycare provided for infants and toddlers, pre-schoolers and school-aged children in a centre-based facility, such as a nursery, playgroup or afterschool club
Browse related policy developments
Latest Children and Young People Bulletin
A weekly bulletin produced by our policy team providing an update on the key developments concerning children and young people
Children & Young People Bulletin: 24 - 30 March 2023Children & Young People Bulletin: 24 - 30 March 2023
Gender equal play in early learning and childcare
A Care Inspectorate improvement resource that promotes gender equality in how children experience early learning and childcareView Page
My world outdoors
A practice resource highlighting the benefits of outdoor play for children attending early learning and childcareView Page