Expressive Arts & Design



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Expressive Arts and Design (EAD) is one of the four specific areas of learning in the EYFS framework.

Expressive Arts and Design involves supporting children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, as well as providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas, and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play, and design and technology.

In the EYFS framework, Expressive Arts and Design is made up of two aspects:


Supporting young children to explore and use media and materials

Expressive Arts and Design covers the area of learning and development which was called ‘CreativeDevelopment’ in the original EYFS framework, along with ‘Designing and Making’ which was previously found in ‘Knowledge and Understanding of the World.’

Exploring and using media and materials covers previous aspects of ‘Being Creative – Responding to Experiences, Expressing and Communicating Ideas’, ‘Exploring Media and Materials and Creating Music and Dance’, and ‘Designing and Making’.

Children’s learning and development in this area will be enhanced as they sing songs, make music and dance, and experiment with different ways of doing these activities. As they develop they will use and explore a variety of materials, experimenting with colour, design, texture, shape, and form.


Ideas for parents

This area of learning and development is about how children sing songs, make music and dance, and try different ways and materials when they experiment with colour, design, texture, shape and form.


Helping your child to explore different media and materials

There are lots of easy ways you can help your child to explore and use different media and materials.

You could use the ideas below as starting points to help you do this.

Under twos

  • Drawing can be done with the under twos in lots of different ways – with chubby crayons on paper, with a lolly stick in sand or mud, or in a tray of damp sand with twigs, spoons or brushes.
  • Most children enjoy painting on large sheets of paper using their hands, feet, fingers or toes. Remember that not all children enjoy painting with their bodies.
  • Try making art out of doors by rolling balls, tins, or wheeled toys through paint on a roll of wallpaper.
  • When you go the park, collect twigs, leaves, and grasses. Talk to your baby or toddler as you collect them and make patterns and pictures with them on the ground.
  • Sing songs with your child when you are out for a walk. Try ‘Incy, wincy spider’, ‘Rock a bye baby’, ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’ or ‘One, two, three, four five, Once I caught a fish alive’. Sing them again when you get home and add any actions you know which go with the songs for your child to copy.
  • When babies and toddlers begin to express themselves in singing or by making marks – in their food or with a crayon or pencil – the results of what they do must be valued as part of their learning and development.
  • Some babies and toddlers are fascinated by what things do and how things behave – you can encourage them to handle everyday things which interest them and help them to see how things work. This is part of design technology for babies and toddlers.

Two- to three-year-olds

  • Sing songs with your child indoors and out of doors. Being out of doors sometimes means you can sing more loudly! Try ‘The sun has got his hat on’, ‘Here we go round the mulberry bush’, or ‘The wheels on the bus’.
  • You can also have fun using action songs with your two- and three-year-old as they really enjoy repetition. Good action songs include ‘Miss Polly had a dolly’, ‘I’m a little teapot’ and ‘Heads, shoulders, knees and toes.’
  • Why not make instruments to accompany your singing – make a drum from a pan and wooden spoon, shakers from empty plastic containers filled with dried peas or beans, cymbals from pan lids and a microphone from rolled up paper or the tube from inside a kitchen roll.
  • Make streamers from strips of plastic or paper, tie them to a stick or clothes peg and watch what happens when you run or dance with them out of doors.
  • Your child will have fun ‘painting’ with water out of doors on a wall or fence using real decorators’ paint
  • Provide your child with crayons, paints or chalks to create pictures and patterns. Remember how important it is to value the finished pictures as your child’s work of art.
  • Children need to acquire some skills to fully explore the different ways of exploring different media and materials. Help them to practise tearing, cutting, sticking, threading, and weaving using scraps of paper, fabrics, wools and ribbons.

Four- to five-year-olds

  • Four- and five-year-olds love using paint in different ways. Try making prints using cut up potatoes and carrots or use cotton reels, large buttons or pebbles and shells.
  • Try making collage pictures with scraps of paper, fabric, wool, sequins, buttons, and natural materials such as leaves and grasses.
  • Use playdough or clay as a base to make 3D models with twigs, shells, stones or nuts and bolts.
  • Some children, often boys, prefer to use fine pencil to make detailed technical drawings. Encourage them to draw items you have in the kitchen such as forks, spoons or a hand held whisk. They may also like to draw the detail of flowers and plants from the garden.
  • Children of four and five become very involved in role play and enjoy dressing up. They don’t need expensive ready made dressing up costumes; hats, scarves, bags, simple cloaks, and masks provide hours of fun.
  • Building a den is a great way of children learning how to design and build on a large scale out of doors. Large cardboard boxes are great for this.
  • When you are painting, sewing, or making or mending things around the house, show your child how to use the tools and equipment safely