Nurturing Creativity: Creative Play for Different Ages


Creative play is all about inspiring and encouraging creativity, and letting children explore and express their imagination. It can play a small part in children's everyday activities, support more opportunities for child-led play, or inspire the focus of the day’s fun. From drawing, to painting, exploring, role playing, crafting, and storytelling, there are many ways to get creative. In key developmental stages and ages, creative play may look different. As we celebrate this month’s theme: 'Creative Play', we’re sharing all our favourite activities.


Benefits of Creative Play

There are many benefits to creative play, it may even surprise most to know just how many skills children are developing while they play.


Like play in general, children develop social skills as they communicate and interact with others. Through creative play with peers, siblings or caregivers, children are fostering skills and knowledge in cooperation, fair play, and sharing. Storytelling and imaginative play can help children explore life and the world around them – encouraging understanding and respect of diversity, fairness, kindness, and gratitude.


The same can be said for children’s emotional development, as they strengthen resilience, begin to understand emotions, and find ways to emotionally regulate. Nurturing creativity for emotional wellbeing can stay with children well into adulthood.


From birth, are building habits and developing skills that they will carry with them for a long time. A variety of arts and crafts support fine motor skills and hand muscles – whether it be painting, molding, cutting, or collaging, lots of tiny movements are building these fundamental skills and muscles. Role play or imaginative play has children moving, and often mimicking adults, subsequently building their gross motor skills.


Children can communicate in more ways than speaking. Although expressing creativity through role playing and storytelling supports literacy and language development, children are also articulating thoughts, feelings, and ideas as they paint, make, and create art. They further develop ways to verbalise these ideas and thoughts as they are encouraged to talk about their creations.


While children nurture their creativity, they’re problem solving, experiencing and learning through their senses, logically processing, and planning. Many skills are developed during creative play that support later learning. Children are exploring colours, patterns, textures, and cause and effect.


Creative play for babies

Infants are learning and discovering through their senses, and building physical skills as they explore with their bodies. Creative play during tummy time works great for babies, as does working with their caregivers to enhance social interaction and experience safe comfortable movement. Creative activities for babies should encourage exploration, engage their senses and fine motor skills, and be taste-safe.

Here are some great creative play activities for babies:

DIY Rattle

Hide and Seek for Babies

Paperbag Maracas

Making Bubbles

Sensory Boards

Taste Safe Fingerpaint


Creative Play for Toddlers

Toddlers may be beginning to explore more widely as they become more active and are in different stages of moving, crawling or walking. They can start participating in more physical creative play such as acting out, and larger scale painting or building. Children at this age begin understanding object permanence and are developing communicatively and emotionally. It’s around the 15-18 month mark that children start engaging in pretend play, making this time a great stage for exploring imaginative play and role playing. Caregivers can engage with children by playing together, or providing opportunities for creativity within the everyday routine.

This is a time to test and experiment – what better way to be creative!

Colour Sorting

Finger Painting

Mud Kitchen

Print Making

Bed Sheet Canvas

Popsicle Puzzle


Creative Play for Pre-Prep

Children at this age are further developing their social skills and understanding, as well as expanding their capabilities in language, and connecting language with action and ideas. Children are exploring and understanding the world around them, as well as further developing a sense of self. Engaging in dramatic and imaginative play helps them consolidate what they are learning. Consider engaging them in creative play that involves drama and movement, dance and music, storytelling, and role playing. Furthermore, creative activities like painting, experimenting with tools for creating, and building, are great for children of this age as they experiment with cause and effect, understand objects and how they fit together, utilise known shapes and constructs, and explore textures, space and colour.

Here are some great creative play activities for Pre-Prep:

How the Echidnas got their Spikes

Bush Sculpture

Balloon Faces

Marble Box Painting

Paperbag Puppets

Life Size Portraits


Creative Play for All Ages

Of course, part of play is engaging with others. Here are some great creative play activities that are suitable for all ages:

Playdough Fun

Taste Safe Ice Painting

Transient Nature Art

Shaving Cream Colour Mixing

Rainbow Spaghetti

Building Blocks

Creative play is not only lots of fun, it has a number of fantastic benefits for children. It’s not only supporting the development of foundational skills and muscles, it’s an opportunity to emotionally regulate and express thoughts, feelings and ideas. Creative play is great for families, as the whole point is to give children a chance to be creative. That means the child can lead the way! It can be as easy as providing a few bits and pieces and asking children to make something. There are so many ways to make and create - from fruit faces for morning tea to water painting on the ground outside! The possibilities are endless!



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