Credit points


Campus offering

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EDAR104 - Creative Arts in Early Years OR EDAR164 Nurturing Creativity in Young Children

Unit rationale, description and aim

The Arts provide opportunities for children to develop a sense of self and a sense of others through imagining another’s culture, space, time and settings. Exploring meaning making through multiple modes in the Arts encourages young children to begin to see the world from their own and from other people’s different perspectives.

This unit emphasises the importance of young children’s engagement with the Arts (art, music, dance, movement, drama and media) in early years’ settings. It investigates the ways in which young children’s ideas, thoughts and feelings are created and interpreted through the arts. Early years educators will explore skills, strategies and contexts (including play) for guiding young children’s artistic expressions through their exchanges, interactions, observations and communication with resources, other young children and adults. Specific reference will be made to the range of expressive languages available to young children as modes of communication and for developing understandings of their physical and social worlds. The unit will include a focus on the unique contributions of Australian Indigenous arts and its place in early years’ education.

The aim of this unit is to ensure pre-service teachers can facilitate young children’s meaning-making through the arts in multiple contexts, informed by principles of socio-constructivism and emergent curriculum.

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 - Utilise their knowledge of national and international perspectives on the role of the arts in care and education in the early years (GA4, GA5; APST 1.3, 3.3; ACECQA B7)

LO2 - Develop a range of professional skills and strategies (including play-based pedagogies) to effectively guide diverse children’s artistic expressions in collaboration with children, families and communities, including Australian Indigenous children and children with special rights and needs (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4; APST 1.4, 1.5, 4.1; ACECQA A2, B7, C1, C2, C3, C4, C5, C6, C7, D3, D5)

LO3 - Design resources to facilitate young children’s meaning-making through the arts across a range of artistic domains and include young children’s multiple forms of expression when planning for learning through projects and investigations (GA1, GA4, GA5; APST 3.4, 3.5; ACECQA B7, C1, C2, C3, C4, C5)

LO4 - Articulate the knowledge and skills needed to extend and refine young children’s artistic knowledge, skill and expression through socio-constructivist approaches including emergent curriculum while making links to the National Early Years Learning Framework and/or other relevant state/territory curriculum and policy documents (GA4, GA5; APST 3.3, 5.1, 5.4, 7.3; ACECQA B1, B7, C1, C2, C3, C4, E1)

Graduate attributes

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

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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


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

1.3 Demonstrate knowledge of teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

1.4 Demonstrate broad knowledge and understanding of the impact of culture, cultural identity and linguistic background on the education of students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.

1.5 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of strategies for differentiating teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities.

3.3 Include a range of teaching strategies.

3.4 Demonstrate knowledge of a range of resources, including ICT, that engage students in their learning.

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.

5.1 Demonstrate understanding of assessment strategies, including informal and formal, diagnostic, formative and summative approaches to assess student learning.

5.4 Demonstrate the capacity to interpret student assessment data to evaluate student learning and modify teaching practice.

7.3 Understand strategies for working effectively, sensitively and confidentially with parents/carers.


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

A. Child development and care

A2. Language development

B. Education and curriculum studies 

B1. Early Years Learning Framework

B7. Creative arts and music

C. Teaching pedagogies

C1. alternative pedagogies and curriculum approaches

C2. play-based pedagogies

C3. guiding behaviour/engaging young learners

C4. teaching methods and strategies

C5. children with diverse needs and backgrounds

C6. working with children who speak languages other than, or in addition to, English

C7. contemporary society and pedagogy

D. Families and community partnerships

D3. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives

D5. Culture, diversity and inclusion

E. History and philosophy of early childhood

E1. Historical and comparative perspectives


Topics will include:

  • National and international perspectives on the role of the Arts in care and education in the early years
  • Australian Indigenous perspectives in the arts
  • Pedagogical documentation reflecting the Arts- observation, listening, documentation, analysis and collaboration with children, families and colleagues
  • The role of the Arts in children’s meaning-making
  • Specialist teaching strategies- co-construction, deconstruction, empowerment, problem-solving, scaffolding and task analysis
  • Resources – innovative approaches to the selection and organisation of resources to facilitate young children’s meaning making through the Arts
  • Planning – contemporary and socio-constructivist approaches such as emergent curriculum, projects and investigations and links to the National Early Years Learning Framework and relevant state/territory curriculum frameworks. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Students should anticipate undertaking 150 hours of study for this unit, including engaging with the online materials, possible workshop/tutorial attendance (where applicable), readings, discussion forums and assignment preparation. The unit delivery will consist of a digital core with the expectation of students working with these materials for a minimum of three hours or equivalent each week. In addition, a three-hour workshop/tutorial may be held once every three weeks (i.e., 4 times a semester or equivalent) in face-to-face mode, or the equivalent in intensive mode. There will be an opportunity for the content to be applied in the professional experience program and students will draw on the ethical, theoretical and practical considerations of this unit for their professional practice.

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

There are two assessment pieces in this unit designed to assess the learning outcomes. Assessments in this unit engage pre-service teachers in practical tasks that enable them to experience, respond to and understand the Arts from the child’s perspective. 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. Co-construction of theory and practice is scaffolded through the ability to work collaboratively through online discussions to develop deeper understandings of the unit content to respond to assessment item two. Arts skills will be developed through preparing special interest children’s arts projects and sharing these with peers. Reflective practice is encouraged through critical reflection on these learning 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 – Cross-cultural perspectives on the arts in the early years referring to current literature and curriculum documents.


LO1, LO4

GA4, GA5

Assessment Task 2

Design an extended collaborative arts investigation for young children using an integrated project approach, including strategies for implementation and evaluation.


LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5

Representative texts and references

Addison, N., Burgess, L., Steers, J., & Trowell, J. (2010). Understanding art education. Engaging reflexively with practice. Abingdon, Oxon England: Routledge.

Barton, G., & Baguley, M. (2017). The Palgrave handbook of global arts education. London: Palgrave.

Bruce, T. (2011). Cultivating creativity in babies, toddlers and young children (2nd ed.). London: Hodder & Stoughton

Dinham, J., & Chalk, B. (2018). It’s arts play: Young children belonging, being and becoming through the arts. South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press

Englebright-Fox, J., & Schirrmacher, R. (2015). Art and creative development for young children (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

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.

Gandini, L., Hill, L., Cadwell, L., & Schwall, C. (Eds) (2015). In the spirit of the studio: Learning from the atelier of Reggio Emilia (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Kukkonen, T., & Chang‐Kredl, S. (2018). Drawing as Social Play: Shared Meaning‐Making in Young Children's Collective Drawing Activities. International Journal of Art & Design Education, 37(1), 74-87.

Pelo, A. (2016). The language of art. Inquiry-based studio practices in early childhood settings (2nd ed.). St Paul, Minnesota: Red Leaf Press

Wright. S. (2012). Children, meaning making and the arts (2nd ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson

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