Expressive arts and design

Expressive arts and design is one of the seven areas of the early years foundation stage and is used to develop a child's imagination, creativity and their ability to use media and materials. Children do this in range of ways including singing songs and making music, dancing, playing with colours, textures and design. All these approaches to expressive arts  help children to represent and understand their own feelings and ideas.

Below you will find a range of practical articles and expert features that cover expressive arts and design to help you develop these skills and overcome challenges you might encounter. For more information on the EYFS you can download latest version of the statutory framework here.

Latest Practical

Give children time to explore the shape of natural objects

EAD: The line of beauty

  • Karen Hart

Natural objects provide a variety of fascinating shapes, which can be the starting point for creating artworks. Describing shapes and experimenting with new vocabulary become a part of the process.

Buttercups and daisies

  • Karen Hart

Wild flowers such as daisies, buttercups and dandelions may be considered weeds but they have a special place in childhood and provide a great resource for Expressive Arts and Design projects.

Children will have fun building bridges outside to enact the story

On a fairy tale adventure

  • Ailsa Chapman

Embark on an exciting learning journey inspired by The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Encourage children to enact the story's physical challenges and create their own follow-on narrative and characters.

Nets provide a great material for creating dens that can be constructed quickly and easily

Catch a star in your net

  • Ann R Roberts

Nets are a cheap, readily available, versatile resource. Use them to make dens, catch carboard stars and all sorts of other objects. Talk about how they keep us safe and have fun crawling beneath them.

Expressive arts and design: The perfect mix

Used together, sand and water play provide children with many exciting opportunities for creativity. Children engage all their senses as they explore textures, changing colours and shifting patterns.

Slime Planet, located at Loughborough Junction in south London, runs activites and workshops for pre-schoolers and KS1 and 2 pupils.

Slime, glorious slime

  • Ann Roberts

It's easy to understand why slime has become such a popular resource with children in the last couple of years. Squishy, stretchy, jiggly or like putty, it's fascinating to manipulate, deeply mysterious and curiously addictive!

Expressive arts and design: Get into character

  • Jenni Clarke, early years consultant and author, France

Discover how imaginative play based on dressing up and role-play can extend children’s understanding of the world and inspire creative art works to represent their experiences.

Latest Features

Children enjoy time spent in the mud kitchen at Busy Bees Hartham Park Nursery.

Glorious mud!

  • Karen Faux

Winter is nearly over and if you’ve recently done an audit of your outdoor space, you might now be thinking about giving your mud kitchen a revamp, and introducing some new resources. If you haven’t yet set up a mud kitchen, now is definitely the time to start planning one.

Brilliant ideas for sand play!

  • Karen Faux

Sand is a tactile, sensory and endlessly versatile resource. Try some new ideas for making the most of it in your setting.

Wrap up!

  • Karen Faux

'There's no such thing as bad weather – just inappropriate clothing,' as the saying goes. Use children’s colourful winter clothing as a link to many areas of learning.

Early years-age children enjoying a song with Kathy Doolan (in green) and Warwickshire Rhythm Time franchisee Rachel Turner (in yellow)

Get ready for National Early Years Music Week

  • Karen Faux

More than 12,000 children are already signed up to join in with this inaugural event that will take place from Monday 28 January to Friday 1 February 2019. Nurseries and parents will be sharing the buzz around a host of exciting music activities.

Grab a pumpkin and have fun on Halloween!

  • Karen Faux

Discover how this spooky celebration can provide an exciting springboard for children's creative activities, including artworks, story-telling, role-play and lots of fun with friends.

Five great paint activities for children

  • Luca Da Re

Here are five great paint activity ideas you can easily try in your setting. Whether you are looking for ideas to do inside or out, there is something here for you.

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