mindful living, effortless style

Love this simple concept of setting up invitations to create for raising innovative thinkers - lots of good examples on how to do it here.

How to Set Up an Invitation to Create for Your Child

Need some great kid art and creativity ideas? Look no further. I’m super excited to introduce you guys to Rachelle today.  Her blog, TinkerLab, is an AMAZING resource for growing creative, innovative, critical thinking kids.  

What I love most about Rachelle is that despite her impressively intimidating credentials (has a Masters in Arts Education from Harvard, oversaw school programs at the San Jose Museum of Art, lectures on Visual Thinking Strategies at Stanford University, and worked on films with Warner Brothers and Universal Pictures – just to name a few), she also has a total knack for teaching parents how to get their kids thinking and creating using quick and easy-to-implement techniques.  

Today she’s here teaching us all about how to set-up invitations to createOnce you get the basics of this concept you can use it to set up an unlimited amount of art activities for your littles – which will come in very handy during your next school break or rainy afternoon, I promise!

Thank you so much for inviting me to share some ideas from our Creative Table with your readers!

Are you interested in raising your child in a creative environment? Could you use some quick and simple ideas for hands-on making that also encourage creative and critical thinking skills to emerge?

Almost two years ago, we started a series of posts on TinkerLab that introduce children to a limited number of inspiring materials as an invitation to create. We call this series Creative Table, and I’m excited to share it with you today.

What is an Invitation to Create?

This is essentially a carefully designed prompt or provocation to make something. One person sets up materials in an inviting way, and another person makes something from them.

You can think of this as a sort of game with just a few rules. Adults can step in to offer suggestions or ideas, but the child should mostly be encouraged to find her own way.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Clear the table of anything that won’t be used in the invitation.
  2. Artfully arrange the materials to provoke ideas.
  3. Limit the choice of materials to just a few items.
  4. Provide clues about how to use the materials, but keep the project open-ended so that original ideas can flourish.

I’m sure you’re eager to jump in and try one of these simple ideas today. Here are three easy art invitations to get you started:

Creative Table: and invitation to create with Chalk pastels and water

Chalk Pastels and Water

Ages 2 and up


  1. Chalk Pastels
  2. Construction Paper
  3. Bowl of Water

Creative Invitation: Set up a tray of colored chalk pastels, a piece of construction paper, and a small bowl of water. Darker colors of paper work well for this project. Set up an invitation for your child and for yourself. If your child isn’t sure what to do, demonstrate how the chalk pastels work on your own paper.

Questions to ask: What would happen if I dip my chalk in the water? Could I draw with a wet piece of chalk?

Variations: Try drawing on different colored paper. Black paper can be a very dramatic background against the bright pastels.

Sticker and frames creative table

Office Stickers and Hand-drawn Frames

Ages 2 and up


  1. Color-coding Labels. You can find these in the office supply aisle
  2. Marker to draw the frame
  3. Paper

Creative Invitation: Draw a frame on a piece of paper. Set up the frame next to a sheet or two of color-coding labels and invite your child to stick them to the paper however he wants.

Questions to ask: Can you tell me about what you did? What else can we do with these stickers?

Variations: Draw three or four big circles on the page instead of a frame, offer your child a pair of scissors in addition to the stickers

Love this simple concept of setting up invitations to create for raising innovative thinkers - lots of good examples on how to do it here.

Leaves and Glue

Ages 2 and up


  1. Leaves
  2. Chip board or card board
  3. A sturdy paintbrush
  4. Shallow bowl or plate filled with glue

Creative Invitation: Set up a piece of heavy paper or cardboard, paintbrush, bowl of glue, and leaves. Invite your child to paint the paper with glue and attach leaves to it.

Questions to ask: How can we attach these leaves to the paper?

Variations: Instead of leaves, offer a small bowl full of cut tissue paper, string, ribbon, or cut magazine pieces.

More Creative Table Ideas

If you’re on Instagram, search the hashtag #creativetable and you’ll find over 3000 ideas that will get your creative juices flowing. If you’d like to share your own creative invitations, we invite you to add #creativetable to your pictures too.

Creative Table Highlights via Instagram

Tape and Paper Bags

Paint and Looping Lines

Doilies and Scissors


*Post contains affiliate links

Rachelle Doorley of TinkerLabRachelle Doorley is mom to two girls, an artist and educator, and founder of the popular children’s creativity blog, TinkerLab.com. While she holds a master’s in arts education from Harvard, Rachelle received most of her training as a dining-room-tinkerer with her two artsy kids. You can also find her on PinterestFacebookInstagram, and Google +.


P.S. Looking for more ways to simplify and save time? Follow these 3 steps:

1) Check out our Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life 2016 Printables and our Kids' Responsibility & Money Management Kit : over 50 pages of 2015 daily/weekly/monthly planners, cleaning schedules, meal planners, kids’ routine charts, budgeting sheets and much more!

2016 POYEL Printables
Kids Responsibility & Money Management Kit


2) Sign up for our newsletter:

sign up for the newsletter and get a free 6 week meal plan


3) Bookmark our famous Gift Guides for the next time you need the perfect kids' gift! (400+ detailed descriptions including age recommendations)- just click on the photos below

Our infamous kids' gift guides