Research ProjectsResearch Findings  Documentation

Research Projects


All Million Little programs are grounded in research and theory. Additionally, Million Little conducts its own research so our participants and partnership programs can move towards empowerment and sustainability, taking Million Little’s approach and individualize even further as their process emerges. Million Little’s research projects enable us to not only offer resources to those who work with children, families, and communities but also informs our own practice and methodologies. Million Little’s research teams include staff, scholars from various disciplines, and/or community members. If you would like to participate in our research projects or have a research proposal, please contact us at


Research on creativity was conducted at multiple locations in 2013-2014. Below are the findings of this research, briefly:

In this research, art materials were used as tools to foster creative abilities and skills in the children. It is important to understand that art in itself is not a creative experience. How one uses art (materials) determines whether the activity fosters creativity in the process. Furthermore, the research findings show that regardless of physical and cognitive disadvantages, socio-economic differences, or traumatic life experiences, creative potential exists in all people and that cognitive skills and abilities that are associated with creativity can be learned and nurtured at any stage of life.

The following were observed and nurtured in the children during this research:

cognitive  Cognitive Skills

social  Social Skills

When the children engaged in activities that they truly loved, their long-term memories improved. This research finding indicates that love holds the key to accelerating such cognitive development. In an environment where the children’s choices and ideas were respected, their desire to communicate and collaborate with others manifested. As a result, many forms of communication flourished and developed – speaking, writing, listening, and creating.

problem Problem Solving Skills


When the children were encouraged to investigate and experience the materials in new and personally meaningful ways, it created opportunities for them to develop problem-solving skills through the process of exploration. Where the children’s explorations were encouraged and challenges were seen as new possibilities, the children took more risks, building resiliency through the process of trial-and error.

compassion Compassion

  confidence 2  Confidence

In a caring environment where the children’s voices were heard and their ideas were taken seriously, the children replicated and shared the same kind of love and care for others. Making choices, discovering new abilities and potential through exploration, and building connections through meaningful experiences all cultivated the children’s confidence. This confidence was transmitted into other parts of their lives, allowing them to try new things and experience the world in richer and more creative ways.



Documentation is an intentional collection of children’s explorations, investigations, and experiences. It is our way of recording children’s ideas, memories, thoughts, and experiences in the course of their work.

The Battles (Emergent Project)

Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley

The idea of encouraging children to participate in a mock battle may seem shocking; however, many children at this age are fascinated with fantasy tales which include warfare such as the Harry Potter books, the Chronicles of Narnia, and the Lord of the Rings series. Channeling that interest into a truly collaborative process is a great opportunity to engage children in creativity and learning.

The children (ages 7-12) were encouraged to brainstorm their ideas with peers and they were asked open-ended questions during the process of planning. How do The Battles work? What are the rules? How can we make The Battles safe for everyone? We had many meetings facilitated by the teens (ages 13-15) to go over ideas, rules, and safety. During the process of planning, a true collaborative effort took place, and the children learned to communicate, to collaborate, and to compromise with their peers.

Although it took us three and a half months of planning, this very process helped the children to develop a sense of understanding the differences in each other and to learn to accept and respect the differences. Because of this process, everyone was respectful of the rules and of each other during The Battles. After implementing The Battles, a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence was evident in the faces of all the children. Violence was never the center of the children’s interest, while the children’s own sense of respect and safety were fostered at all times during the process.