The impact of a creative dance unit on primary one childrens acquisition of creative thinking skills in singapore

Por: Lai Keun Leong e Peggy Hunt.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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An important outcome of Singapore’s education system is the development of creative thinking skills. This project entitled, Dancing the Coral Reef, investigates the impact of a creative dance unit on a class of Primary One children’s (6-7 years old) usage of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence to solve problems [1]. One key objective was for the researchers to observe "something new" [3], something that stimulated the children to deviate from their normal range of motion. This study provides a model for integrating dance into the primary school curriculum, instilling creative thinking and problem solving skills into the students’ learning process.


A program of instruction and curricular materials were designed to support the acquisition of cognitive skills and subject matter, and to increase students’ proficiency in problem solving and experimentation using the tools of dance. Students were observed across five sessions in order to document any progressive learning, particularly in their kinesthetic responses to the problem-solving tasks. These kinesthetic responses served as the primary data source for this paper. At the end of the performance they were also asked to write and illustrate reactions to their dance experiences. The videotaped lessons were reviewed with detailed descriptions of a child’s or group’s movement responses to each learning task. These descriptions were annotated with individual open-ended observation about the quality of the children’s movement responses.


At the end of the five dance lessons the children had acquired a basic movement vocabulary and attained specific dance skills, with many instances of creative thinking and problem-solving abilities being reflected. The drawings of the children reflected not only their knowledge but also the embodiment of the inhabitants of the coral reef. In addition, emotive expressions of joy and happiness of dancing the coral reef were clearly reflected in their drawings. Gardner observes that most children between the ages of five and seven achieve notable expressiveness in their drawings [2]. He feels that children speak directly through their drawings, with each line, shape and form conveying their inner feelings.


Given a supportive environment, a structured curriculum, and knowledgeable teachers, primary one students were seen to demonstrate creative thinking and problem solving skills in the form of original body sculptures, innovative pathways, individual movement patterns, and dance composition. We hope to duplicate this research in the near future but with a greater emphasis on the reflective drawings of the children. Such pictures would then form the basis of our research into the cognitive engagement (creative thinking) and form-making ability of children. The reflective drawings could also give scope for future study into children’s perception of dance, an area that has yet to be explored in Singapore.


[1]. Gardner, H. (1993). Frames of mind: the theory of multiple intelligences. 10th anniversary ed. New York: Basic Books.
[2]. Gardner, H. (1982). Art, mind & brain: a cognitive approach to creativity. New York: Basic Books
[3]. Torrance, E.P. (1995). Why fly? A philosophy of creativity. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.









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