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Creative Expression and Play in the Early Childhood Curriculum.

Isenberg and Jalongo stress the fundamental influence of creativity and play on young children's well-being. The thorough text suggests creative, playful and appropriate classroom activities that early childhood professionals can implement to support the overall growth of young children. Teacher educators will find this text to be excellent reading for students who tend to embrace the "traditional" elementary school paradigm.

Part One explains the importance of creativity to a child's development. Theoretical, developmental and psychological discussions about the nature of creativity accompany recommendations for the practical application of play in the early childhood curriculum. The authors discuss play as a fundamental element in the creative process and a significant factor in life. Educators and parents are reminded that play provides a solid foundation for all areas of human development.

Part Two features wonderful examples of young children's development in art, music and drama. Readers will discover why children should participate in creative arts, how formal learning situations can provide experience with creative arts and what professionals should do as participants in art, music and drama activities. Isenberg and Jalongo clearly demonstrate the need for integrating all aspects of early childhood curriculum through creative, divergent and imaginative arts experiences. Young children's understanding of communication, mathematical/scientific principles, social studies, health and nutrition is included in this discussion. Also, the authors recommend art, music and drama as practical means of inclusion for special needs children, including the disabled, multicultural populations and high-low achievement groups.

Part Three presents guidelines for arranging a creative environment and suggests materials that will encourage creative expression and play. The authors describe "centers" in which professionals can take the first step toward more appropriate practices that balance indoor and outdoor creative play environments.

Part Four details excellent practices for nurturing the development of appropriate social behavior among young children, including positive communication with families and effective interaction between children and adults. One essential chapter explores the appropriate assessment of creative expression and play among young children. Early childhood educators must have clear methods of assessment that are nonintrusive, accurate and sensitive to children's developmental needs. The authors suggest that the strength of any early childhood curriculum lies in appropriate assessment that serves each child and ultimately improves classroom practice.

As early childhood professionals respond to the increasingly complex needs of diverse populations, react to demands for accountability and seek individualized, appropriate practices, they cannot lose sight of the "joy of childhood." This book meets the challenges of modern early childhood education, yet retains the simple joy of expressive arts, play and learning.

Reviewed by Michael J. Bell, Assistant Professor of Early Childhood, University of North Texas, Denton
COPYRIGHT 1993 Association for Childhood Education International
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Bell, Michael J.
Publication:Childhood Education
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 1993
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