Overview of ArtExpress and Young Children

Art, music, dance, and dramatics (the expressive arts) not only provide important content, but they also have been shown to serve as a vehicle for serious learning for children of all ages and abilities.

The Expressive Arts

  • offer important opportunities for expression, problem solving, and communication. 
  • contribute to healthy development and learning. 
  • aid both written and spoken communication and enhance social development. 

Benefits of the Arts

Composite of child drawings of zoo animals.Through the arts, children
  • actively participate in their own learning. 
  • construct their own reality, freely communicate their feelings and ideas, and make sense of and give meaning to their world. 
  • make great strides in the processes of understanding and creating symbols, critical to communication and literacy development. 
  • gain a broader and deeper understanding of human culture and the significance of their own imagination through artistic expression and appreciation.


The arts present benefits as well as challenges to children whose physical disabilities prevent them from interacting with their environment. Both low-tech and high-tech options can help all children participate in the arts.

Low-tech Options
    • Foam grippers for markers or extensions for paint brushes to provide a better grip. 
    • Velcro fasteners and other simple adaptations make it possible for all children to experience creative play activities , such as building sculpture, playing with puppets, and participating in music. 
    • Switches to activate recorded music, voices, and sounds making participation and inclusion possible.

    Adaptive devices.

High-Tech Options
  • Computers, software programs, and adaptive peripherals equalize play for all children. 
  • Software brings the world to children who live in isolated areas far from a museum or children who do not travel well.
  • Adaptive peripherals including a switch or a touch tablet, such as a TouchWindow, Key Largo, or IntelliKeys, provide children who cannot hold a marker or paint brush ways to successfully make marks and create pictures. 
The availability of high- and low-tech adaptations makes participation of children with limited abilities in the expressive arts not only possible, but practical.

The Overview also includes information about the ArtExpress Model, the rationale, and the arts across learning domains. 

Updated 9/11/02.