Exploring and creating with craft sticks in preschool

I cannot stress the following message enough…

Before preschoolers are ready to be creative…

They need time to explore the materials!

When introducing new tools or art mediums to young children, they need time to explore what happens when they manipulate the items before they will be ready to create with the items.

The art activity on this particular day was to make shapes by gluing craft sticks to a piece of paper. This certainly sounds easy enough but in reality, before the children will find forming shapes on a piece of paper interesting and inviting, they first need time to explore or play with the materials.

To give some time for exploration, this teacher set the craft sticks out on the floor and sat down on the floor with the children to model a few ideas of how the sticks can form different shapes.

And the children began to catch on quickly.  They formed shapes all over the floor…

and in the window ledge…

Those who have had the time to freely explore with the craft sticks will be more ready to try gluing shapes on paper with the craft sticks.

When given the time to explore first – the children will feel more confident in their ability to create with the materials and they will focus more intently on the creative process.

Did I spark any thoughts? Leave me a comment!

By |2010-07-25T06:00:39+00:00July 25th, 2010|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Shar July 25, 2010 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    That makes so much sense Deborah. I can picture the children having a lot of fun just ‘exploring’ the collage materials too. Another great post, thank you.

  2. Scott July 25, 2010 at 7:35 pm - Reply

    Great, Deborah. You’re so right. They need time to explore…and sometimes multiple times to explore so they can experiment with lots of ideas.

  3. Pam July 25, 2010 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    Just have to say I LOVE your blog! This is such a wonderful site for teachers and parents of preschool children. I teach a preschool special education classroom and we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your CD! We listen to it every day in my room . I have one child in particular who insists on listening to the entire CD during center time every day 🙂 Just started a blog and linked to yours- hope you don’t mind! Come visit- http://www.cricketcornerkids.blogspot.com

  4. Teacher Tom July 25, 2010 at 10:03 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this Deborah! I think that half time when either I or the kids get frustrated at school, it’s because they didn’t have time to examine/explore their materials first. You were with a master teacher!

  5. Deborah J. Stewart July 25, 2010 at 11:40 pm - Reply

    I am working on being the master student:) I had not really invested much time in learning about a toddler before so this is quite fun for me.

  6. Jackie July 26, 2010 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    Man, you have so much great information. I hadn’t thought about this before. Maybe this is why my son has to destroy all of his artwork after he creates it– because I rushed him into glueing stuff down without letting him explore first. He is only 2 so most supplies we use are fairly new to him. I’m thinking he might be frustrated that I immediately rush him to create and finish something. I’m going to try this and see what happens.

    • Deborah J. Stewart July 27, 2010 at 12:33 am - Reply

      I am learning as I right along with Wyatt – if he isn’t enjoying the process then I worry that I will make him hate the process:) So we take things at the pace and level he seems to be most interested and I just keep trying new ideas:) Have fun with you little one!!

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