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EDAR104 Creative Arts in the Early Years

Unit rationale, description and aim

As the world of the twenty-first century becomes increasingly complex and challenging, creative thinking is essential for children as the adults of tomorrow. This unit explores ways to nurture creativity and imagination in young children, as experienced through the Creative Arts, and potential ways these enrich education and care outcomes for children from birth to five years. 

This unit is designed to build on students’ practical and theoretical understandings about the nature of arts experiences, and young children’s engagement with the creative arts in the areas of visual art, music, dance, movement, drama and media. Pre-service educators will engage in practical arts experiences, have opportunities for critical consideration of art education pedagogy relevant to early years (Birth-5), and develop a broad understanding of the diversity of young children’s arts experiences across multiple contexts. Pre-service teachers will apply the principles and practices of the Early Years Learning Framework and National Quality Standards to support their engagement in partnerships with families and communities. 

The aim of this unit is to provide pre-service teachers with the skills and knowledge to explore co-constructivist approaches to teaching and learning, and, in particular, to develop strategies for supporting and extending young children’s arts experiences.  

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - describe different approaches to arts education and experiences in a range of early childhood and family settings, with an awareness of and respect for the diversity of young children’s arts experiences across multiple contexts (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8; APST 2.1, 3.3; ACECQA A8, B7, D1) 

LO2 - describe and discuss a range of art-based competencies to develop young children’s authentic engagement in the arts, demonstrating the values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the arts in early childhood (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8; AGTS 3.5, 4.1; ACECQA B7, C1, C3)  

LO3 - analyse ways young children’s physical, emotional, social and intellectual development and characteristics may affect children’s learning and experiences in the arts (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8; APST 1.1; ACECQA A1, A3, B7) 

LO4 - apply theoretical and empirical literature to explore how young children experience the arts and the implications for early childhood teaching and learning (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8; APST 1.2; ACECQA B1, B7, E2). 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should be able to:

1.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students and how these may affect learning.

1.2 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of research into how students learn and the implications for teaching.

2.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the concepts, substance and structure of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area.

3.3 Include a range of teaching strategies.

3.5 Demonstrate a range of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies to support student engagement.

4.1 Identify strategies to support inclusive student participation and engagement in classroom activities.


On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should have developed the following specific knowledge: 

A.Child development and care 

A1.Leaning, development and care 

A3.Social and emotional development 

A8.Transitions and continuity of learning (including transition to school) 

B.Education and curriculum studies 

B1.Early Years Learning Framework 

B7.Creative arts and music 

C.Teaching pedagogies 

C1.Alternative pedagogies and curriculum approaches 

C3.Guiding behaviour / engaging young learners 

D.Families and community partnerships 

D1.Developing family and community partnerships 

E.History and philosophy of early childhood 

E2.Contemporary theories and practice 


Topics will include: 

  • Practical Arts Workshops – which include the development of a range of art-based competencies, which will raise student art self-efficacies in the arts and help them to facilitate co-constructive relationships with children through the arts.  
  • On campus Lectures and/or web-based activities which focus on: 
  • Developing students’ competencies in the arts disciplines  
  • Understanding young children’s experiences of the arts  
  • Engaging with children through the arts  
  • Recognising the diversity of young children’s arts experiences across multiple contexts  
  •  Relevant national, state and territory curriculum documents and assessment. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The unit aims to increase pre-service teachers’ knowledge, skills and appreciation of the creative arts and their contribution to society and education through exploration, critical analysis and engagement in practical art making and responding experiences. The learning and teaching strategy follows a constructivist model, with an emphasis on social learning and scaffolding such that concepts and tasks are built progressively.  

Pre-service teachers will build their conceptual knowledge of the substance and practices of the creative arts through exploration of and critical engagement with unit content using a broad range of technologies. The ability to work collaboratively will be developed through collaborative online discussion forums. Their personal creativity and the development of self as artist is promoted through open-ended assessment tasks which involve the integration of a number of artistic domains.  

This unit is generally taught fully online across a 12 week semester. Participants should anticipate undertaking 150 hours of study for this unit including a variety of flexible teaching and learning strategies, dependent on the needs of the particular group. These may include self-paced readings for developing the ability to work autonomously, synchronous tutorials, and assignment preparation.  


Technology Enhanced Learning  

The unit will include a Learning Environment Online (LEO) site with resources and online links, announcements, and a discussion board to post questions and reflections that promote critical engagement. It may include:  

• _Recorded lectures and lecture notes; tutorial notes / guides  

• _Webinars, podcasts, videos  

• _Reviews, guided explorations, quizzes  

• _Discussion board to exchange ideas and refine learning.  

• _Focussed readings addressing a wide spectrum of Arts education and practices.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

This unit requires that three assessment tasks be completed covering the selected areas of study. 

The assessments in this unit are designed to scaffold first year pre-service teachers’ attainment with assessment in the Arts. The first assessment item provides a choice for students to begin assessment in their areas of strength by selecting from either an essay or written and visual presentation. Arts skills will be developed through co-constructing theory and practice while preparing special interest children’s arts projects. The subsequent assessment items provide structured assessment formats with a journal developed throughout the semester in response to workshops, followed by a research project as the final task with the most weighting. Students may choose the age range in their assessment items. Their knowledge and understanding of the Arts discipline and capacity to think analytically and work autonomously, will be developed through undertaking individual guided reading and exploration activities 

Minimum Achievement Standards 

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed to demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome.  

In order to pass this unit, students are required to submit all assessment tasks, meet the learning outcomes of the unit and achieve a minimum overall passing grade of 50%. 



Electronic Submission, Marking and Return 

Assessment tasks are to be submitted to Turnitin. Assessments will be marked and returned via Turnitin in accordance with University assessment policy.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: 

Essay or visual and written presentation – With reference to relevant literature, curriculums and theories, , describe and discuss how children (from birth to five) might experience each of the arts in their everyday lives and within educational, home and community settings.  

With reference to one age group (e.g. infants, toddlers, 3-5 years) describe how early childhood educators could use co-constructivist approaches to support young children’s authentic arts experiences.   


LO1, LO2  

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8 

Assessment Task 2  

Reflective journal which responds to the contents of the arts workshops and unit literature. 

Develop a plan for providing a group of young children (specifying the age range) with the resources, motivations and teaching support necessary to implement extended integrated arts experiences in an early childhood setting (in one or more arts discipline). This plan must be supported by relevant theories and literature. 


LO3, LO4. 

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8 

Assessment task 3 

Research activity based on their reflective journal: 

Develop a child profile of actual child (in the birth to 5 age range) that records his/her interests, strengths, arts behaviours and experiences in one or more of the arts disciplines, making links to relevant theories to support the content of the profile. Include suggestions for supporting and extending this child’s arts skills and interest addressing the learning outcomes.  


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8 

Representative texts and references

Clark, B., Grey, A., & Terreni, L. (Eds.). (2013). Kia tipu te wairua toi. Fostering the creative spirit through the arts in early childhood education. Auckland: Pearson New Zealand. 

Dinham, J., & Chalk, B. (2017). It’s arts play. Oxford University Press 

Ewing, R., Kervin, L., Glass, C., Gobby, B., Le Cornu, R., & Groundwater-Smith, S. (2019). Teaching : Dilemmas, challenges and opportunities (6th ed.). South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning Australia. 

Marni J. Binder. (2018). Bringing the arts to the everyday lived experiences of young children. Art/Research International, 3(2), 262-295. 

Richards, R. D. (2007). Outdated relics on hallowed ground: Unearthing attitudes and beliefs about young children's art. Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 32(4), 22-30.  

Scarlet, R. (2018). Becoming with art in early childhood. Sydney: Multiverse.  

Young, S., & Ilari, B. (2019). Music in early childhood: Multi-disciplinary perspectives and inter-disciplinary exchanges. International Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Development. Cham: Springer International Publishing. 

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