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2   Introduction COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL organization, patience, curiosity, imagination, and synthesis. Surely everyone’s personality and preferences reflect some combination of these traits. Society tends to recognize and reward the most accomplished, creative, and organized types—those who might be described as “type A” or “alpha.” At the bottom of the social scale might be the very busy and inventive little boy in my class whose contribution to the year-end gift book for me was a mere scribbled line and the dictated words, “I just don’t like projects.” We have become very aware of how important it is for early childhood settings to support children’s initiative and the unique ways in which they express it. We understand that everyone has ideas they want to put in motion—from the most naturally industrious or productive individuals to those who seem tentative, slow to warm, resistant, stymied, or disorganized. In our efforts to support all children and a wide variety of learning styles, we as teachers are learning to look at the range of children’s strengths and preferences. Initiative, productivity, and confidence are universal human characteristics that each person can foster and cultivate in unique ways. Educators are beginning to understand productivity as a matter of individuals and groups finding their best fit as learners who support one another. At the same time, early childhood educators have focused on the impor- tance of creativity in children’s lives. This is part of our increasing sensitivity to self-expression and open-ended exploration in the preschool years. As mind- ful teachers, we want to help children trust and celebrate their own ideas and impulses by honoring and celebrating those ideas and impulses ourselves. The emphasis on creativity, like that on play, has been informed by a growing dis- comfort with the push to extend our current, objective-based, standardized model of elementary education into the preschool years. In addition, we see children’s imaginations dictated and limited by commercial media. This book is about helping different children nurture their own unique ways of exploring and learning. It focuses on a narrow developmental period— toddlerhood—and on one specific but fundamental aspect of the curriculum: art. In doing so, I hope to offer not only a model for supporting toddlers’ transitions from sensory exploration to organized projects but also a way of thinking about and supporting the different intellectual and creative qualities of children. In other words, this book is about thinking more creatively about creativity and about examining underlying cultural expectations and values related to creativity as well. The ideas and activities presented here provide examples of how we can help young children learn to be learners and learn to become themselves. I have been lucky enough to teach toddlers for the last twenty years at The Little School in San Francisco, an institution where families and faculty have a passion for partnering COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL