Strategies For The Discovery And Development Of Creativity Among Kindergarten Children Research Paper Example
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One of the most intricate, surprising, and enigmatic features of human behavior is creativity. The feature is especially fascinating given that many of the great explorations and exploitations in inventions and discoveries, as well as artistic expression, rely on top-notch creative thinking, and therefore it is one of the most important human traits (Kind & Kind, 2007). Early childhood on the other hand, is an important developmental period for humans. It is at this period that the ability to learn, make decisions, independence, relations with others, creativity and the feeling of self-worth develop (Prince Edward Island Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, 2008). For this reason, kindergartens hold a central place in the development of creativity among children. The schools have to be essentially child-focused, and according to the early childhood programs for children who have not attained the age of beginning grade one. The purpose of kindergarten is nurturing the progressive growth of a child’s knowledge and comprehension of the child and the world around them through the provision of a safe, compassionate, and stimulating environment where learning flourishes (Prince Edward Island Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, 2008). The strong position that the kindergarten holds in childhood development therefore makes it (kindergarten) a central point for nurturing creativity. Although studies into creativity were sparse in the early 20th century, researchers, artists, and thinkers began paying attention in the mid and late 20th century. The findings about creativity have since had a great impact on the teaching strategies, the nature of the school environment, administrative practices and educational objectives (de Souza Fleith, 2000). Emphasis on creativity has therefore focused not only on nurturing the children’s creativity but also on the teachers and the teaching methods, particularly for the teachers handling the gifted and special needs children (Rejskind, 2000). With studies on creativity, many of the fallacies on creativity have been overcome. Among them is the erroneous assumption that high IQ is a requirement for creativity. These discoveries on creativity, therefore call for educators to work hard and creatively in developing teaching and learning strategies which can help nurture the children’s creativity. Music, being one of the strategies, has been found to be a strong factor in the development of creativity among children, although it cannot be of exclusive use, and therefore there is a need for other inclusive strategies such as free play. The aim of this paper is to review the research on strategies, educators can use for the discovery and development of creativity among kindergarten children. Additionally, a personal statement and recommendations for developing creativity among the children will be included at the conclusion of the paper.
Creativity, Teaching, and Current Practice
Studies show that humans are inherently creative, and that creativity and intelligence are distinctly different. Törnkvist (1998) based the study on a decade of research on staff development in Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). This institute has strong research-based foundations and the staff is always curious to do something new. Törnkvist connoted that there is an innate feeling of satisfaction among adults, but children always come with a novel thinking and creation. It is therefore inferable that a high IQ is not a prerequisite for creativity. The internal drive for creativity is openly intrinsic, and requires a drive and nurturing for its full development. It is for this reason that teachers, especially in kindergarten, are an essential part of creativity nurturing. In developing strategies for the discovery and development of creativity, teachers play a central, yet subtle role. It is expected that teachers would be able to encourage children in their paths to creativity but also allow the children to use their own intuition in the development of their own creativity. In a report that was based on nine new studies and investigations, Miller & Almon (2009) have noted that teachers of young children have to be prepared for the full development of the children. It has also been noted that children’s natural love for learning can be improved by giving them a chance to play. Coleman and Colbert (2001) worked on the teaching of creativity to the students of magazine designing. They tested the efficiency of creativity-loaded curriculum, and checked the efficacy before and after the experiment on the treatment as well as control groups. They found that the mean “Creativity index” of 83 students/participants increased after taking design classes. Not only “Creativity index” but “Fluency”, “Elaboration”, and “Originality” also improved. Similarly, Treatment group (i.e. group that took creativity classes) showed more mean values in the same above mentioned things as compared to participants in the Control group (Coleman & Colbert, 2001).
In another study, researchers have found that the development of creativity in children is the responsibility of family and school. In that study, researchers go through many studies, and used the descriptive method including the description and analysis in human studies. This method notes the educational role of various teachers and their ways of developing creativity in students in Jordan. This method is helpful in finding the reality and improving that. So, the researchers concluded that creative activities in children have to be enhanced in order to improve their creative tendencies (Albari, Smadi, Yassin, & ALShammari, 2013).
The current form of teaching largely puts the teacher, instead of the learner, at the center of teaching, especially with regard to teaching, given that it is the teacher with the awareness of creativity (Rejskind, 2000). In this form of teaching and learning, the individuality, creativity, and imagination are rarely teacher-enhanced. Rather than a center for the nurturing of creativity, kindergartens are viewed as child socialization institutions, where cultural values are transmitted. With teachers at the center of the teaching and learning process, the transitional model of teaching will continue, wherein a uniform curriculum, regulated activities, and recommended resources are in use (Yee, 2005). Further, such form of learning experience encourages traditional values, competition, and rote learning. The basis of this type of education is the transmission of cultural and traditional values to the next generation, with an addition to informing the children on the need for conformity and therefore passing performance standards to them, which eventually mold the individuals as conformists to societal values and practices.
In such conformist systems, it is the expectation that children can deal with homework within dull classrooms that reflect no sense of creativity. Such children are expected to sit at their desks with pencils and papers, and even while incomprehensible to them, work towards achievement of stringent academic goals. Such a system does not allow children to showcase creativity, which in contrast to adults, is only visible through task solving and highlighting of higher performance in their gifted capacity. Researchers have noted the difference in giftedness of children in case of preschool teachers, class teachers, and teachers. They have reported that preschool teachers consider “personality” traits as the most important gifted characteristic. Class teachers consider natural abilities as the most important gifted characteristic. Similarly, teachers consider “personality” as the most important gifted trait, and “creativity” as less important than “personality” and “abilities”. In the same research, they told that teachers consider that they can recognize the giftedness of children, but above mentioned findings show that they are unaware of creative abilities of children (Petrovic, Trifunovic, & Milovanovic, 2013). Additionally, they tend to forget that children in the kindergartens have vivid imaginations, are enthusiastic creators, and can show imagination in music, dance, and rhythm (Prince Edward Island Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, 2008). With little time and encouragement in other areas, children have little time to explore activities that nurture creativity such as music and free play, and where there is an inclusion of these elements, they are usually within the strict confines of structured curriculum and do not therefore allow for free will and exploration.
Usually under these circumstances, play, song, and dance are structured where children play within formed circles. Thus, while they display and can perform complex movements memorized through vigorous daily training, such children do not get the opportunity to engage in their own free play, away from the confines of the curriculum. This suppresses creative thinking, a necessity for the children in their future. Lack of opportunities for creative thinking, use of materials, and construction of their own elements of play discourages the natural creative disposition of children and encourage conformity, especially when rewards are given for complacency. For development of creativity among the children, it is imperative that the classroom environment, the teaching strategy, and the attitude of the teacher should all converge at creating a creatively wholesome learning experience for the children. In a study, a researcher conducted semi-structured interviews, having open-ended questions, from seven teachers (3 teachers for third grade, 3 teachers for the 4th grade, and 1 for mixed) from Connecticut public school, and 31 students in the grades 3 and 4 (15 students from 3rd grade and 16 students from 4th grade). A qualitative approach was used in this study. That study showed that enhancing the environment for creativity in the classroom can help students in improving their choices, ideas, self-confidence, and interests, whereas inhibiting environment in the classroom can inhibit these activities of students. Students noted that they need more field trips as well as guest speakers (de Souza Fleith, 2000).
Interrelationships among Creativity and Necessary Components
Creativity cannot stand in itself as a singular component. It requires other elements for its true manifestation and nurturing. In its definition, Kind and Kind (2007) define creativity as the capacity to produce original and suitable work. The idea here is that creativity allows individuals to solve problems using unconventional methods, which are not only befitting but also successfully and satisfactorily solve the problem. This transcends to even traditionally structured subjects such as mathematics, which are viewed as lacking in creativity due to their perceived static structure (Yee, 2005). Creativity is further defined as encompassing originality, as well as the use of experiences or ideas in new ways. The beauty of novelty is its ability to surprise others while transcending any predicted logical step.
The different components for the manifestation of creativity therefore include the person, the procedure, and the final products visible to all. According to Mayesky (2006), each individual has some quantity of creativity within them, even as the extent and nature of the creativity varies through the personalities. Therefore, the very basis of creativity is the individual from whom creativity manifests, through the products the individual produces as well as through their processes. Creativity therefore comes from within an individual who requires a supportive and conducive environment to manifest their productivity. This is also the case with children, whose environment helps or suppresses their ability to bring afore their individual creativity (Miller & Almon, 2009).
Even within a person, creativity does not work singularly. There is an interrelationship between creativity and other psychological elements such as intelligence, personality, and cognitive procedure. Chan (2005) considered nearly 1200 students enrolled in the government gifted education center established from 1995 to 2000 in China. Those students had an IQ of 130 or more according to the “Hong Kong Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children” or the “Raven’s Standard Progressive Matrics”. Out of these students, 448 responded to the researcher and 432 students were selected in which 317 were boys and 115 were girls in the age range of 7 to 19 and grades from 2nd to 13th. Two methods of their assessment were done that were Family Environment Scale (FES) and self-report scale having 12 items and 9 items respectively, for assessing different aspects. It has been noted that children with high IQ, although not always, tend to be more creative, especially under conducive circumstances and environments such as good family environment, parents’ encouragement, and good academic skills, as shown by self-perceptions of gifted students (Chan, 2005)
Individual creativity therefore manifests through the creations and actions of the creative individuals. In the process of making things however, creative people are able to make connections where none was present. Intelligence comes to play at making the connections, and the end product becomes a novel idea or product, which manifests the originality personal trait, all the three working to define a creative person (de Souza Fleith, 2000).
Even with the correct personality and intelligence, this does not suffice for a creative individual to manifest creativity. The thinking process that goes in the creation of novelty represents one of the most vital components of creativity. Therefore, while valuable, powerful and novelty define a creative product, the thinking process involved in the creation of the product is as important in understanding creativity as the overall product (de Souza Fleith, 2000). The creative thinking process in itself is novel as it includes imagination, novelty, innovation, resourcefulness, curiosity, discovery, and problem solving. While these are at the surface, a more complex system involving objectivity, selectivity, and aesthetic principles runs in the background. Such complexities allow the creative individual to challenge established assumptions, and through this, see things in a new way (de Souza Fleith, 2000).
The process in this case is not only relative to adults but also applies to children who, when met with different tasks, are capable of making their own decisions as well as plan strategies for solving the problem at hand (Yee, 2005). The originality and the process of creative thinking for children are easily manifested through their own play within their play, an activity beyond classroom tasks. Thus, a child can easily pretend to drive a car using a biscuit lid, making movements as shifting gears, steering, and at the same time making engine noises, some of which indicate acceleration of speed. To possess the concept of acceleration and a change of sound of the engine of the vehicle requires extreme care in discernment of the mechanics of a vehicle to understand such a phenomenon. It is hence a display of the creative process of children.
In scrutiny of such a display in the child playing a driver, it is possible to define the creative process as the discovery of novel patterns created and elucidated through normal materials or ideas (Kind & Kind, 2007). Thus, before a creative individual can create the final product, the mind has to undergo the creative process which links past experiences and knowledge with novelty in the creation of the final product. The creative process subscribes to four distinctive stages of preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification. This four-stage model of creativity was formalized by Wallas in 1926 (Truman, 2011). Truman (2011) extended that model of creativity and presented the generative framework that gives a contemporary view on the process of creativity. This framework can help educators and teachers in the development of learning materials.
The preparation stage encompasses information gathering akin to the incumbent problem, done in a fluid unrestricted manner. Through the creative process, these individuals are likely to reject the traditional problem-solving process, find their problems, and work on solving them. For the incubation stage, these individuals are likely to pay little attention to the problem, letting an unconscious thought process work on the problem. This process goes on undisturbed in the mind of the creative individual, where different solutions are sought, challenged, and rethought. At the third stage, individuals get the solution, which breaks into the subconscious (Truman, 2011). This stage is particularly unpredictable given that it happens suddenly and with certainty as being the solution to the problem. Illumination leads into verification, where the solution is formalized with refining and adaptation in meeting practical challenges.
Creativity, the person, and the creative process lead to the result, which is the product (MacKinnon, 1987). The product of creativity includes new ideas, innovations, or thought processes. Additionally, creativity produces new designs or improvement of the existing designs. In working through the creative process, an individual interacts with the surrounding environment, and through the environment gains inspiration on the product or solution to the problem at hand. As such, creativity is a social process, where an individual draws from the environment to produce a product that intrinsically offers a solution to the problem within the given environment (Truman, 2011).
In providing the solution, the bottom line of the solution/product is not only in solving the problem but also in finding aesthetic standards in the product, in addition to the thought on the far-reaching results of the product. Through creativity, the individual uses the creative process to find a solution, which is objective, and does not solve the singular problem but others related to it as well. The product of objective creativity hence meets required standards, is acceptable by professionals in its field, has aesthetic value, and is also socially acceptable. Only in meeting these standards can a product be said to be the outcome of a creative process. Yet in finding the solution, its timeliness is again a considerable part of the creative process (Truman, 2011). In thinking, processing, and mapping out solutions, as it is the case in the incubation stage, this processing must be time conscious giving enough time for the illumination and verification processes before the release of the final product.
Creativity Enculturation through Education
Culture is an important element in the preservation of history and shaping of the future. As such, culture is a dynamic element, which undergoes changes constantly from one form to another as people’s experiences also change and make a mark in the cultural construction. In a sense therefore, education forms a type of societal construction within which cultures are established and passed from one generation to another, given the set of rules established by the different educational institutions via the diverse range of disciplines offered within the institutions. In their very essence, schools function as independent social and political entities, which have their own set of rules, values, and policies. Therefore, both educators and children within the context of the educational system learn patterns of behavior and attitudes, as they have been grown within their educational institution (Wright, 2002).
Through the enculturation within the academic institutions therefore, it is right to conclude that the children grow within the confines of what the education system makes them believe. This enculturation thus shapes the beliefs, values, and actions of the children, with a weighty effect on their expression of themselves and by extension, their creativity. The education system, institutional beliefs, values and rules in other words can aid or conversely thwart the way individuals express themselves whether creatively or within the subjective principles laid by the institution or society (Wright, 2002). This converges with the idea that within every society is a native notion of selfhood: awareness within the society of how one should be. Consequently, conformity or creativity are learned through education, relaying the difference between more conformist Eastern culture and the more creative, individualistic Western cultures (Ng, 2001).
Perhaps the difference in the method of raising and childhood education, which is a reflection of the entire education system, helps to explain the minimal amount of inventions and innovations that emanate from Asian countries. Chinese companies have been at loggerheads with Western companies over the breach of intellectual property rights in electronics manufacture. Therefore, while most of innovation in products comes from the Western world with globally identifiable brands such as Apple, HP, Dell, Mercedes, and Ford among other global brands, few of Eastern companies have shown innovation. For those that have been successful such as Samsung, court cases and banning have riddled the companies and some of their products over intellectual property law infringement as presented in the research of Lemley (2013).
In the conformist societies, even with the employment of strategies such as play, music, and dance, the structure of these activities are rigid making the children to perform the same routines repeatedly. Thus, while the children may be able to perform thousands of routines, they are incapable of formulating their own through imaginative and creative thinking (Ng, 2001). Therefore, although play as a strategy for the discovery and development of creativity is present in such institutions, it is overly regulated and does not allow the children the freedom necessary to explore their own creative faculties. Perhaps the reason for such structuring is the recent skepticism on free play and promotion of the idea that earlier mastery of basic language skills with the inclusion of phonics and letter recognition enhances better performance in later school years (Miller & Almon, 2009).
Yet the idea of structured play falls apart by the mere differentiation between the artificial play and the complex make-believe play that engages kindergarten children for a longer time facilitated by their own novel ideas and rich language use. A close scrutiny of the two types of play helps in the distinction between what the children can do on their own; the richness of their games in language, rules, energy, imagination and flow completely dwarfs the robotic memorization present in structured play and dance routines (Miller & Almon, 2009).
Free play as a strategy for the discovery and development of creativity works to ensure that learners are not only fully absorbed in their activities, but develop a sense of independence. Miller and Almon (2009) indicate that children work hard at their play. These children work on the invention of scenes and tales, resolve problems, and find their way through social barriers through play. Through play therefore, toddlers understand what they want to do and work meticulously on the activities they want. Most of their working in this case are internal drives, which in essence, allow them to learn important lessons that include pursuant of their ideas for success (Miller & Almon, 2009).
In research by Darling-Hammond and Jon Snyder in 1992, as cited by Miller and Almon (2009), the findings of the study showed that children engaged in intricate forms of socio-dramatic play had far better language and social skills than their nonplaying counterparts. Moreover, playing children, the research found out, developed more empathy, better imagination, as well as development of the idea of what others mean. Furthermore, such children have less aggression and exhibit higher thought levels and self-control. Studies on animal research draw conclusions to the fact that such children have larger brains with much sophisticated neurological structures than their dormant counterparts (Darling-Hammond & Snyder, 1992).
In the early 70s, German kindergartens underwent reform from the play-based norm to the more cognitive ability centric system (Miller & Almon, 2009). Later comparative research between the German children, who underwent the cognitive form of kindergarten and those who underwent early learning centers showed a stark difference between the two. At the age of 10, the early learning centers’ children had better social and emotional adjustment in addition to better mathematical and language skills. In addition, these children were both creative and intelligent, excelling in oral expression and industry (Darling-Hammond & Snyder, 1992).
Play consequently holds a vital role in the development of children, and it is through play that children get to use language that they hear. A play-based kindergarten has an educator, who although playing a minimalistic role, remains a solid influence in the play activities to encourage interaction. Such teachers are trained and understand child development and are more importantly, familiar with the children’s play themes, building on them and progressively add new content and play toys for the stimulation of the children’s minds (Miller & Almon, 2009). Moreover, such teachers know the individual needs of each of the pupils and assist them to overcome hindrances in their lives that may limit their learning and creativity.
Music is yet another strategy important in the discovery and development of creativity among kindergarten children. Most of the learning in kindergarten is musically based, as it aids in memorization and alleviation of boredom, given the short attention span of kindergarten children. Through music, it is possible to identify different talents among the children, and with the identification, help the children in developing their gifting and creativity. According to Wright (2002), musical intelligence among children helps in the creation of imaginative and expressive compositions. This intelligence however, is not confined with the musical domain; it overlaps with other forms of intelligence as, for example, multiple intelligence helping in the development of novel features. Thus, with knowledge of music, children are able to use musical intelligence to other aspects including sound sensitivity, employment of musical memory, and making emotive association through metaphoric and expressive comprehension (Wright, 2002).
Environment for Creativity
Both music and play help in the discovery and development of creativity as seen in the previous sections. However, creativity requires a conducing environment to blossom, both at school and at home. According to de Souza Fleith (2000), the creation of an ornamental, harmonious, and meaningful environment goes a long way in the development of creative potential. The environment for fostering creativity should thus be present at home and in an education setting. According therefore, within an educational setting, the environment should include time for creative thinking, reward creative ideas and products, encourage levelheaded risks, allow children to makes mistakes, allow for the exploration of the environment, as well as allowing room for other alternative viewpoints (de Souza Fleith, 2000).
Chan (2005) offers an insight into the role of the environment in fostering creativity. He contends that the family environment is an important starting point for the discovery and development of creativity. Citing a research, Chan (2005) noted that most scientists began their exploration, pursuit for collection and experimentation, at home at the age of seven. The family, through encouragement, offers a favorable environment for development of creativity. Therefore, by parents and sibling allowing the freedom of thought, availing time for exploration and openly communicating with their children and siblings, showing interest in their work, and even giving material motivation, children are encourage to continue in their creative exploits (Albari et al., 2013).
Trends in Education
Following the realization of the role the school and home environments play in the discovery and development of creativity among children, most educators have sought to modify the curriculum. The goal in the modification of the curriculum is to make it more child-centric with teaching and learning activities that facilitate the children’s creativity. Additionally, more schools are teaching children creative thinking and exposing them to problems and tasks that require creative thinking. In a study conducted in the year 2000 on children in Singapore, researchers gave creative writing tasks to 60 children in the age range of 10-11 years (i.e. grade 5). Out of these 60 children, 33 were females and 27 were males. Those children were allowed to use the internet and SCAMPER (abbreviation for “Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to other uses, Eliminate, Reverse”) tools to improve their creativity during school vacation through a writing holiday program. These children were selected according to their level of language proficiency and sufficient abilities of writing. Three groups were made in which 20 children worked on Internet, 20 children worked through SCAMPER tool, and 20 children were considered as the control group. Students were asked to write according to themes from their textbooks. Researchers found that internet is better in improving fluency as well as elaboration components of creativity as compared to SCAMPER tools. Both the Internet and SCAMPER tools were found helpful in developing new ideas (Majid, Tan, & Soh, 2003). This research shows that the introduction of latest techniques can help in improving the creativity techniques of children.
In relation to John Dewey’s idea of education as a social process, most schools and curriculums have organized the classroom environment in a way that it reflects the social setting from where the children come. Additionally, more schools are encouraging the development of a close relationship between teachers and the children, particularly when this relationship helps in the formulation of purposeful and constructive play. The idea behind this trend is that with a close relationship between children and teachers, and the involvement of both in the formulation of constructive, purposeful play, children are able to explore their potential, while teachers are able to identify and help in nurturing the child’s potential (Teaching Strategies, 2010).
Creativity is one of the vital ingredients in problem solving. By discovering and developing creativity among kindergarten children, the children grow up honing their creative skills, which eventually help them through life. Although societal expectations continue to push educators towards an academic performance based education, it is necessary to note that academic performance alone is not the sole purpose of education. Children in kindergarten do not have the sense of competition, and with their faculties still growing, it is of importance that they are allowed to enjoy their childhood, explore their environment, make mistakes and learn from them, as well as encourage them whenever one notices some potential in them. Play and music help children in the discovery of their abilities and are avenues through which children express themselves. For this reason, play and music should take up the bulk of kindergarten curriculum to enhance their creative sides.
Personal statement and Recommendations
I have always enjoyed working on psychological aspects of education, and that was the reason for working on this project. Moreover, my love for humanity made me to think about the children, who can become a valuable asset in our future. I found that we can help children in many different ways, and helping them by enhancing their mental and psychological abilities can be one of the most useful ways. So, I have some recommendations in order to improve the creative insight of children.
The learning environments both at home and at school should be rich to enhance the children’s curiosity and help them develop creativity. Both parents and teachers should ensure that children are closely monitored within the home and school environment, and encourage the children whenever they make a step towards a creative creation. Additionally, both parents and teachers should develop a close relationship with children, for only through such a relationship can children relay their cares to the adults, who can then help the learners tread their creative paths.
Play and music should form the basic curricular instruction in kindergarten. Free play and music are particularly necessary for the kindergarten children. The formulation, construction, and implementation of the kindergarten curriculum should be in such a way that it allows for more free play and musical activities for learners. Given the importance of play and music in the discovery and development of creativity among kindergarten children, the teacher education curriculum for kindergarten educators should factor this. These teachers should undergo training on ways of discovering and nurturing creativity and talent among kindergarten children.
Hopefully, these recommendations would help in achieving the target of enhancing creativity in children. Moreover, with these recommendations, I would also be able to take my career to the advanced stages.
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