Creative Table: Tree Trunk Leaf Collage

This Creative Table prompt invites you to use simple materials that you can easily gather on a walk and from basic supplies in your home.
Simple art prompt for kids with leaves, paper, and paper

Supplies

  1. Paper
  2. Marker or other drawing tool
  3. Bowl of white glue
  4. Paint brush
  5. Fallen Leaves, gathered on a walk

Start with a Nature Walk

image
No trees were harmed for this project as we gathered leaves that had already fallen to the ground.

The Set Up

image
Clear the table

Draw a basic trunk structure on the paper. Don’t worry about perfection

Place the leaves, bowl of glue, and brush around the paper

Invite your child to create

More Ideas

Add markers or crayons and invite your child to add texture to the tree

Draw leaves or other ideas from their imagination

Draw a bird shape and offer feathers rather than leaves

Drawing Prompt: Fill a Frame

Easy and fun art prompt for kids: Color in frames

It’s no secret that my family likes to draw, and we’re always playing with ways to make drawing more entertaining. We often do this “fill a frame” activity in our sketchbooks while traveling or while waiting for food in restaurants, but it’s also easy to set up anywhere. All you need is paper and drawing supplies.

This project falls under the Creative Table Project, a series of simple art and science prompts that encourage creative thinking skills and experimentation.

In a nutshell, you set up the materials and then invite your child to create.

Drawing Prompt: Fill a Frame

Easy and fun art prompt for kids: Color in hand-drawn frames

Supplies

See our full list of recommended supplies for more kid-friendly materials. Note: This list includes affiliate links

Paper: We used Neenah Exact Index (card stock). I love this versatile, heavy-weight paper

Black Pen: I enjoyed using a Sharpie for this project

Crayons, colored pencils, or markers: I set up Waldorf “Lyra” colored pencils and my daughter chose to use Crayola washable markers

The Set-up

  1. Pre-draw frames on a sheet of paper
  2. Set the frames up next to a container of markers or crayons
  3. Invite your child to create
  4. Feel free to co-create or use your free time to work on your own project

Easy and fun art prompt for kids: Color in frames

I set ours up with colored pencils, and my daughter swapped them for her favorite markers. With set-ups like these, follow your child’s interests. If they have an idea that’s different from what you had in mind, as long as it’s safe, it’s 100% okay!

Related to this project, my friend Agnes recently launched a company called Plaeful, and they make erasable, washable frame decals that you can stick right up on your wall. We have one in our busy hallway, and I’m always catching my kids filling it in with designs, stories, and color.

Plaeful washable frame from Hello Wonderful

Check out Plaeful.

Plaeful washable frame from Hello Wonderful

Art Prompt: How to Make an Animal Mask out of Paper

How to make an animal mask out of paper

I recently set up this mask-making activity up for my five-year old and loved seeing how she added details and personality to the animal mask template. This project falls under the Creative Table Project, a series of simple art and science prompts that encourage creative thinking skills and experimentation.

In a nutshell, you set up the materials and then invite your child to create.

How to Make an Animal Mask out of PaperHow to make an animal mask out of paper

Supplies

See our full list of recommended supplies for more kid-friendly materials. Note: This list includes affiliate links

Card stock or other heavy paper

Child scissors: blunt, pointed, left-handed

Hole Punch

Elastic String or yarn/ribbon

Markers or Crayons: We use Crayola here

The Set-up

There are plenty of ways to set this up.

Older children: If your child is old enough to use a paper punch and cut with scissors, here’s your set-up:

  1. Fold your paper in half.
  2. Pre-draw the shape of half of an animal face the paper. Be sure the center of the face is along the folded edge.
  3. Set the paper up on a table with markers and scissors.
  4. Invite your child to cut the mask out of the paper and then design and create an animal.
  5. Punch holes for the elastic, tie the elastic on, and wear!

Younger children: If you have a toddler or preschooler who isn’t ready for scissors yet, try this:

  1. Fold your paper in half.
  2. Pre-draw the shape of half of an animal face the paper. Be sure the center of the face is along the folded edge.
  3. Cut the mask out of the paper
  4. Place the mask and markers or crayons on the table and invite your child to design and create
  5. Punch holes for the elastic, tie the elastic on, and wear!

How to make an animal mask out of paper

For more easy art prompts and set-ups like this, visit The Creative Table Project.

And if you try this project or invent a creative prompt of your own, join me on Instagram with the hashtags: #tinkerlab and #creativetable

a Quick Creative Table™ Survey

creative table survey2

If you’ve been with TinkerLab for a bit of time, you may remember when I introduced the Creative Table Challenge a few years ago. Since then, I’ve posted a series of Creative Table prompt ideas as inspiration for setting up provocations and invitations to create at home and school.

Since then, I’ve received a lot of questions about these prompts, so I’m pulling a couple exciting projects together around this idea. I’m excited to share them with you soon!

Popular Creative Table Questions

I want to make the Creative Table resource more useful, so I’m gathering all of your big questions around it. First I’ll share some of the questions I get, and then I’d love to hear what questions YOU have!

Do you set these provocations up for your children every day?

Yes and no. I’ve gone through phases where I have set these up daily, and then other periods where I won’t set them up for a few days. It all depends on the rhythm of our family at the time. For example, when my children were both getting up VERY early, I would set up our Creative Table™ the night before so that they would have an engaging activity waiting for them when they awoke. I also find that summer is a good time for us to have daily prompts because there’s not a mad rush to get out the door early and we can ease into a morning of making. As my children get older, they still enjoy prompts, but they’re also driven by their own ideas and enjoy finding the materials they need in our self-serve maker zone.

Where do you get your supplies?

We order a lot of art supplies through Amazon, such as our liquid watercolors (affiliate – these are a must-have) and black kraft paper for covering tables. We also spend time at Michael’s, but it’s dangerous for me to bring my kids into the eye-candy bonanza of that store. 🙂 We gather a lot of found materials for projects such as foam printmaking and natural supplies on walks and hikes for projects such as this prompt with leaves and glue.

Where do you get your ideas?

I’ve been teaching art since 2000, and many of the ideas come from my own teaching practice. I’m also active online and find great inspiration ideas from favorite blogs and the #creativetable hashtag on Instagram. Other good Instagram hashtags are: #invitationtoplay #invitationstocreate and #30invitationstoplay

What questions do YOU have?

What burning questions do you have about invitations to create and provocations for the Creative Table? Maybe it’s about setting it up, making time for it, the age of your child or children, or the challenges you face with this type of project. Anything you have to share will be useful, and your name with be kept in confidentiality unless you give me permission to share it.

Thank you so much for taking time to fill this out!

12 Easy Creative Table Prompts for Kids

If you’re looking for a simple way to set up creative provocations that encourage curiosity and imagination, you will love the Creative Table™ Project. These activities won’t take a lot of time to set up, and while your child creates you can step back while they enjoy the process of exploration.

12 No fuss creative table set ups for kids tinkerlab

WHAT IS THE CREATIVE TABLE PROJECT?

The Creative Table™ Project invites you to share an image of a creative invitation, prompt, provocation, or set-up. 

The creative table set-ups are simple: Clear a table, place the inspiring materials in an inviting arrangement, and invite a child to create.

There’s no right or wrong way about it. While we may have an idea about how the other person will use the materials, it’s ultimately up to the child to determine the outcome.

You can read more here for tips on how to set  up these creative table provocations.

12 No fuss creative table set ups for kids | TinkerLab

Creative Table: Why it’s Important to Have a Clean Table

Tape and Paper Bags

Paint and Looping Lines

Tape and Paper

Doilies and Scissors

Leaves and Glue

Stickers and Frames

Glue and Sand

Doily and Watercolor Painting

Valentine’s Day Cards

Cardboard Heart Stamps

Blend Chalk Pastels

Glitter Pine Cones

12 no fuss Creative Table™ set ups for kids

If you’re new to all of this, find out how to set up a self-serve maker space for kids.

3 More Easy Creative Table Invitations

If you enjoyed this, check out 3 Easy Art Invitations that Encourage Creativity and Independent Thinking, an article I wrote for Modern Parents Messy Kids.

More Creative Table and Space Inspiration

Organize your Art Station

How to Set up an Art Cart

Art Supply Organization

 

Drawing Prompt | Design Your Own Characters

If you’re looking for a fun drawing prompt that encourages imaginative thinking, this Creative Table drawing prompt is sure to please. My four-year old found it enthralling, and soon after completing these, she invented her own prompts for her dad to work on.

Fun Drawing Prompt Printable: Design your own character

The idea is simple:

Set up a sheet of paper with basic animal or people parts, and then invite your child to fill in the missing parts of the bodies with their own ideas. So, for example, draw bunny ears and a tail, and leave the rest of the image blank. I’ll share some ideas in the photos below.

See This Drawing Prompt in Action:

Fun Drawing Prompt Printable: Design your own character

You can easily draw your own prompts with a few quick strokes of pen.

But if you’d like some that are ready to go, with instructions and ideas to further this exercise in creativity, I pulled together a downloadable PDF. You can print it right away, as many times as you like, and have a creative drawing session in just a few moments. Click here to download a copy today.

TinkerLab Creative Drawing Prompts

What is the Creative Table Series?

Setting up a Creative Table Invitation to Create like this is one of my very favorite ways to encourage children to explore new ideas and develop a visual language. Here’s the basic premise:

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

More Creative Table Ideas

You can read more about the Creative Table Series and grab at least ten more easy and fun ideas here.

Creative Table | Making with Glitter + Natural Objects

With Fall finally hitting us here in California, we’re finding and collecting lots of natural objects on our walks around town. In addition to collecting these natural objects to grace our Fall table, we like to put our crafty caps on and make them sparkly…with lots of glitter.

Please don’t hold this against me if you’re in the “I can’t stand glitter” camp. I hope we can still be friends.

Easy Art Prompt to Make Glittery Natural Objects | TinkerLab.com

But first, a little background on the Creative Table Series

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.

What is an Invitation to Create?

An invitation to create is a carefully designed prompt or provocation to make something. One person sets up an inviting selection of materials, and another person makes something from the materials. There’s no right or wrong way about it. While we may have an idea about how the other person will use the materials, it’s ultimately up to them to determine the outcome.

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.

Creative Table with Natural Objects and Glitter

Here’s how to get started (and I promise you that this will be easy)…

Step 1: Take a walk and collect natural materials. We found all sorts of surprises, including many magnolia tree seed pods. And do you see those teeny tiny pine cones? Any guess as to which tree they’re from. Here’s your hint.

Easy Art Prompt to Make Glittery Natural Objects | TinkerLab.com

The Creative Table Set-up

ages 3 and up

If you’re using glitter, as we were, a tray or shallow box is critical for keeping the glitter mostly in one place. As you’ll see in the photos that follow, this is the starting point and then we added and changed this as we went along.

Supplies

  • Tray. I found ours at Michael’s Craft Store, and found a similar one here on Amazon: Winco Fast Food Tray
  • Shallow bowl filled with glue, mixed with watercolor or food coloring (optional)
  • Paint brush
  • Bowl of glitter
  • Collection of treasures: sequins, buttons, googley eyes
  • Natural materials
  • Paper

Easy Art Prompt to Make Glittery Natural Objects | TinkerLab.com

The Creative Table Invitation

Once your space is set-up, invite your child (or children) to create. There are no firm rules here, but it often helps if you sit down and make alongside your child (you can see my husband, Scott’s, hands in the next photo). After a bit of tinkering, little R pulled out a few more bottles of glitter and the full bottle glue since she was running low.

Easy Art Prompt to Make Glittery Natural Objects | TinkerLab.com

In the end, we made one big, happy mess that didn’t travel all over the house. And we also earned ourselves festive objects to decorate our dinner table.

Easy Art Prompt to Make Glittery Natural Objects | TinkerLab.com

Questions to ask:

  1. How can you cover this entire leaf/pinecone/seed pod?
  2. Do you prefer the object in its natural state or covered in glue and glitter? Why?
  3. What other material could we sprinkle on the glue?
  4. Where should we put these once they’re dry?

Variations: 

  1. Cover everything with the same color glitter for a unified look.
  2. Attach string to the objects and turn these into ornaments.
  3. Sprinkle colored salt instead of glitter. Recipe here.

Easy Art Prompt to Make Glittery Natural Objects | TinkerLab.com

More Simple Creative Table Projects

Creative Table Highlights via Instagram

Creative Table: Tape and Paper Bags

Creative Table: Paint and Looping Lines

Creative Table: Doilies and Scissors

Creative Table: Leaves and Glue

Creative Table: Stickers and Frames

Creative Table: Glue and Sand

Creative Table: Valentine’s Day Cards

Don’t Miss out! Join the TinkerLab Community

If you enjoyed this post, you can get more ideas for raising young inventors and filling your life with creativity by signing up for the weekly TinkerLab newsletter. It’s free and we often send exclusive content and opportunities that are only available to our subscribers.

TinkerLab Newsletter

In case you blinked and missed it, TinkerLab rounds up all the great stuff on the internets on keeping you and your critters creative and wraps it up for you in a tidy newsletter! (And throws in some secret giveaways for good measure!)  – Yuliya P., San Francisco, CA

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids

 

Fun Science Experiments: Vinegar and Baking Soda

Baking Soda and Science Exploration | Fun Science Experiments  |  TinkerLab.com

My kids love fun science experiments. While cooking breakfast the other day, my three-year old asked about making concoctions with the breakfast supplies. While I’m all for mixing up ingredients with kids, I wasn’t prepared to have a lot of good food go to waste.

So we set up a classic concoction center with some baking soda and vinegar. So much fun!

Supplies: Fun Kitchen Science Experiment

I’ve included some Amazon affiliate links for your convenience

  • Vinegar – I like this big jug for the convenience of having lots of vinegar on hand for more experiments
  • Baking Soda
  • Tray
  • Small pitcher
  • Spoon/s
  • Bowl/s
  • Food coloring (optional)

Baking Soda and Science Exploration | Fun Science Experiments  |  TinkerLab.com

Steps: Set up a Concoction Experiment

  1. Set up a tray or deep tub and fill it with a handful of small bowls.
  2. Fill a bowl with baking soda and a small spoon
  3. Fill a small pitcher with vinegar
  4. Offer this invitation to your little scientist

Baking Soda and Science Exploration | Fun Science Experiments  |  TinkerLab.com

After some fizzy exploration, my daughter wanted to see what would happen if we added some salt, so we brought salt over.  In the past we’ve also added flour, baking powder, and a variety of vinegars. At this point, you could also introduce some food coloring for extra-colorful fun.

More Fun Vinegar and Baking Soda Experiments

When my older daughter was three years old, we did this same science experiment with a slightly different set-up. Hop over here to the fun Baking Soda and Vinegar Science Experiment.

Baking Soda and Science Exploration | Fun Science Experiments  |  TinkerLab.com

This project, like so many others that you’ll find on TinkerLab, is process-based and it’s part of the CREATIVE TABLE PROJECT. 

These projects are set up as Creative Invitations, meaning that the materials are laid out in an inviting way where the child is invited to interpret and use them however he or she likes. With creative invitations like this, I’ll sometimes give my kids a little prompt, but usually I sit back and see what they come up with…and I’m often surprised by their ingenuity.

One of my favorite things about Creative Table projects is that they’re simple. Set up takes minutes and the child determines the outcome through a process of discovery and exploration. There’s no expected outcome, which frees the parent or teacher up to relax and enjoy the process.

Around here, these creative set-ups are part of the Creative Table series, and you can find more of these ideas here.

Creative Table Project | Baking Soda and Vinegar

If you enjoyed this activity, be sure to check out our new book, TinkerLab: A Handbook for Little Inventors (affiliate link). You might also enjoy these creative invitations:

Creative Table Highlights via Instagram

Creative Table: Tape and Paper Bags

Creative Table: Paint and Looping Lines

Creative Table: Doilies and Scissors

Creative Table: Leaves and Glue

Creative Table: Stickers and Frames