Creative Table Project: Keep your table clear and your mind open

The other day I shared the Creative Table Project that’s happening over on Instagram. And do you know what? I’m floored because after that post went up, over 100 new Creative Tables were added to the visual database of ideas and inspiration. It got me thinking that maybe I should make the Creative Table Project a more regular feature of this site. What do you think?

In that vein, a couple days ago my 2-year old set up a really simple creative table.

Let’s take a peak…

Keep your table clear and your mind open: The Creative Table Project from Tinkerlab

It was time to re-paper the kids’ table so I walked into my supply closet to grab a roll of paper (we use brown craft paper from the hardware store, similar to this, in case you’re wondering). When I opened the door, my 2-year old, who happens to be glued to my side, spotted a container of paint pens on a high shelf and put in a request for them. The pens happened to be next to a big jar of craft sticks and she asked for those too.

I had a few other ideas in mind, but I happily obliged because I know that if she’s motivated to make something, her self-direction will carry the project to somewhere important.

How often do you let your child take the lead when he or she creates things?

Keep your table clear and your mind open: The Creative Table Project

While I rolled out the paper and taped it down to the table, she got right to work by adding color to the sticks. She invested her energy into covering the entire side of one stick with purple paint and another with green polka dots.

Why is this all so important? In moments like these, children have choices, they exercise their independence, and they have seemingly endless time to tinker and experiment.

If you want to encourage creative thinking in a child, it’s important to make room for open-ended exploration and self-directed learning.

There are plenty of moments in our days when we formally teach our children, scaffold their learning with information, or introduce them to new ideas that can help them grow. I bet you can think of at least one example.

But it’s equally important to encourage learning by making room for a child’s own ideas, inquiry, and moments of innovation to flourish.

So there it is. Not the most complicated post. In fact, the beauty in it lies in its simplicity.

This seems to go hand-in-hand with our Art Tips series, so here’s a quick takeaway for you:

Creative Table Tip #1

Keep your table clear and your mind open.

Inspiring articles on Creativity

Creativity in Young Children, by Sara Gable. If you have little kids, you’ll love this article.

Is Creativity the Number 1 Skill for the 21st Century?

The Decline of Creativity in the United States

The Creativity Crisis, a must-read article by journalists Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

More about the Creative Table Project

Creative Table Project on Instagram

Follow me on Instagram

 

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

If you like to make your own Valentines but you’re pressed for time (or have a small and impatient child like me), all-in-one Envelope Valentines could be the way to go. Turning a heart-shape into both a Valentine and an envelope is a delightful way to surprise the card’s recipient.

Valentine envelope made from heart

This handmade Valentine card is made from a giant cut-out heart that’s then folded into an envelope. Simply draw your message on the heart, fold it up, seal it, and your Valentine is ready to go!

Since we started making Valentines in January, we’ve had plenty of time to iterate on the Valentine theme and recently whipped up these easy all-in-one cards that would be perfect to make for a group of classmates.

Because 2-year old N couldn’t wait to give all of these out for Valentines Day, they became Chinese New Year/Valentine Cards. My child lives quite happily in a post-modern world.

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

Handmade Valentine Cards Supplies

  • Paper
  • Stickers
  • Scissors

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

Step 1

Cut out a heart, turn it upside down, and fold. If you’d like a tutorial on cutting hearts, this tutorial will make it easy.

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

Step 2

Fold the “top” (or bottom!) of the heart up so that the folded edges line up. Crease.

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

Step 3

Fold the “bottom” (top!) down, so that it looks like an envelope. I had to make a few of these before getting the location of the creases just right.

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

Step 4

Open it up and flip it over.

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

Write a message.

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

And seal it up!

While my daughter is thrilled to cut paper and build sculptures, she hasn’t been the least bit interested in writing or drawing lately. So you can imagine my surprise when she actually had the stamina to make more than one of these!

When we sat down, I cut and folded a bunch of hearts and we got to work!

And my daughter folded her own hearts…

Handmade Valentine Cards: The Amazing All-in-one Envelope

We plowed through and made about ten of these before she had enough.

Handmade Valentine Cards: Making window decoration from our scraps

And when we were done, I recycled the cut-out Valentine scraps into window decor. Want more handmade Valentine cards ideas? Here you go…

More Valentine’s Day Inspiration

30 Valentine Activities for Kids

How to set up a self-serve card-making station

6 Valentine’s Day Activities for Preschoolers

Deconstructed Valentines

Happy Valentine’s Day!