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Expressive arts and design

‘Expressive Arts and Design fosters imagination, curiosity, creativity, cognition, critical thinking and experimentation and provides opportunities to improvise, collaborate, interact and engage in sustained shared thinking.’ Birth to Five Matters. Pg. 45 2021.

The learning environment at North Islington Nursery School is set up to allow children to develop creative skills in an open ended way. Resources are displayed for children to access themselves and to use in ways in which best suits the ‘job in hand’. As far as possible, we encourage the transportation of materials across the rooms and both inside and outside. Often, children may create a model that they wish to take outside and roll down a slide or a child may wish to push a doll in a buggy from inside to outside.

The classrooms attractively display resources which inspire children to select materials to explore colour, shape and form. Our continuous provision ensures that there are high quality mark making and art materials for children to use. Paintbrushes are offered in size/thickness order to encourage children to think about the correct brush for their work. Pens, pencils and crayons are organised in colour groups and in the nursery class children are encouraged to mix and create their own paint colours using the primary coloured powder paints.

Each classroom ensures that there are daily opportunities to explore texture and to play with materials where shape and form can be manipulated. Whilst dough is on offer most days, in the nursery class the children are encouraged to make their own play dough, learning about ingredients and consistency. Clay is another material that is frequently used in the classroom. Tools are always on hand nearby for children to use to roll, shape, cut and mould.

Equally, there are always many resources on offer for children to use for imaginative play scenarios such as small world resources, loose parts and play people.

Staff alternate these resources so that they reflect current interests and offer something new and interesting. The small world resources are always placed near other resources and areas of provision such as block play and construction as the materials lend themselves well to combining with small world and loose parts.

Children begin to role play at an early age and we encourage and provide opportunities to develop this interest. Role play supports all areas of development in particular communication and personal, social and emotional skills where children have the opportunity to extend language skills, to play collaboratively within a group, to share ideas, negotiate and to make stories.

At North Islington Nursery School we ensure that there are resources available for children to “act out” and imagine events they have observed or experienced. For example there are dolls available in every classroom for the children to pretend to feed and put to bed or a home corner with bags and dressing up clothes to have pretend parties. Staff also encourage opportunities for the children to make their own props to extend their imaginative play ideas such as a map for a pirate or magic wands.

Recycled materials such as cardboard boxes, cartons, tubes and paper are part of our continuous provision and provide opportunities for children to create their own props to support and extend play. Staff work closely with children to realise their intentions and to support with designing and creating props whilst modelling how to join materials together.

Group times offer daily opportunities for children to sing, move and dance. We encourage children to develop confidence in listening to music whilst moving in rhythmic ways and we also encourage children to learn how to use simple percussion instruments effectively and to accompany our favourite songs. Where appropriate we ensure that children are exposed to many different types of music from traditional songs, popular culture and songs from around the world. These experiences are often tied into cultural celebrations or times o