Doily and Watercolor Art for Preschoolers

This simple doily and watercolor art for preschoolers uses basic art materials and encourages children to explore the medium of watercolors through process-based creating.

Easy Watercolor and Doily Art for Preschoolers | Tinkerlab

This project, like so many others that you’ll find on TinkerLab, is process-based. It’s set up as a Creative Invitation, meaning that the materials are laid out in an inviting way, and then 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.

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

Supplies: Watercolor Art for Preschoolers

Note: I’ve included Amazon affiliate links for your convenience.

Easy Watercolor and Doily Art | TinkerLab

The Creative Table Set-up

Line a tray with paper: Set up a big tray, and line it with paper. We have big sheets of 18″ x 24″ paper that I cut to fit. You could also use butcher paper, a brown paper bag, or smaller papers that are taped together. This step isn’t mandatory, but it’s helpful to have a absorbent trough to catch all the extra liquid.

Squeeze liquid watercolors into an ice cube tray. We have a mini tray that’s reserved for just this purpose. I often add a little bit of water to the watercolors to extend the life of our paints just a bit.

Doilies and paintbrush. Set up some doilies and a paintbrush and/or pipette nearby.

Easy Watercolor and Doily Art | TinkerLab

My three-year old enjoys the challenge of pulling doilies apart. Oh, and she’s also wearing an apron and has rolled-up sleeves. Both recommended for this potentially messy project.

Easy Watercolor and Doily Art | TinkerLab

Here’s the pipette in action. Pipette’s are fun for little kids, and a good challenge as they figure out how to squeeze the paint up, and then squeeze it out again.

Easy Watercolor and Doily Art | TinkerLab

We set up another tray nearby to absorb our drying, colorful doilies. Once she made a small handful of these, my daughter thought it would be fun to dip clean doilies in the pool of murky paint. What a fun experiment!! It’s moments like this that make this a Creative Table!

soaking doily

She loved seeing the paper soak the paint right up. Once we had a healthy collection of doilies, my kids remembered that we recently picked up laundry hanger at the dollar store. So we carried our trays full of doilies outside where we hung them to dry in a tree.

They’re still there, actually, decorating the neighborhood.

Easy Watercolor and Doily Art | TinkerLab

And here’s a bit of the aftermath. I love before and after photos!

Easy Watercolor and Doily Art | TinkerLab

If you enjoyed this activity, be sure to check out our new book, TinkerLab: A Handbook for Little Inventors (June 2014, Roost). 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

An Invitation to Create with Tape and Paper

Today I have another quick invitation to create that encourages independent thinking without a lot of fuss. This project is part of the Creative Table Project.

If you’re new to the Creative Table Project, read this post for more information on how it works.

We’ll use today’s materials of tape and paper for this simple invitation to create. 

The Creative Table Project  | an Invitation to Create with Tape and Paper

Before you begin

  1. Clear the table of anything that won’t be used in the invitation.
  2. Artfully arrange the materials to provoke ideas.

The Creative Table Project  | an Invitation to Create with Tape and Paper

Creative Table with Tape and Paper

Ages 2 and up

Supplies

  1. Colorful tape
  2. Piece/s of paper
  3. Object to attach pre-cut tape to
  4. Scissors (optional)
  5. Crayons or markers (optional)

Creative Invitation: Pre-cut tape and attach it to a block, other sturdy object, or the edge of your table. Invite your child to attach the tape to the paper. Encourage experimentation. Have more sheets of paper and tape ready for experiments.

Work side-by-side: Set up a station for yourself and experiment with the materials. Your child will notice how you use the materials, which could serve as creative inspiration.

Questions to ask: 

  • What would happen if I piled pieces of tape on top of each other?
  • I wonder what it would look like if I attach the pieces of tape together end-to-end?
  • Can you tell me about how you made this?

Variations: 

  • Have extra rolls of tape available for additional color and pattern combinations. See this post for inspiration.
  • Add office stickers or other favorite stickers to the table for additional textures.
  • Add a small bowl of pre-cut paper and invite your child to attach them to the larger paper with the tape. See this post for inspiration.
  • Offer older children a pair of scissors with the invitation to cut their own tape.
  • Offer a container or markers or crayons and invite your child to add marks to the paper.

The Creative Table Project  | an Invitation to Create with Tape and Paper

More Creative Table Inspiration

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

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 | Invitation to Create with Glue + Sand

Let’s talk kids and creativity! Are you interested in raising a creative learner who can think outside the box?  Could you use some quick and easy ideas for hands-on making that also encourage creativity and independent thinking?

Then you will most likely LOVE this series of invitations to create.

An easy Art Invitation with Glue and Sand that encourages creativity and independent thinking | TinkerLab

As a parents or educators, most of us care about raising children who can think for themselves. Will it benefit our kids if they can only master following directions? Probably not.

Pablo Picasso is often quoted for saying, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

Isn’t that true? Children are naturally creative and it’s our job to nurture their novel ways of thinking by encouraging them to harness this powerful energy to think for themselves.

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.

Here is an easy art invitation to get you started. Stay tuned for more in the days to come!

Creative Table with Glue and Sand

Ages 2 and up

An easy Art Invitation with Glue and Sand that encourages creativity and independent thinking | From the Creative Table Series  |  TinkerLab

Supplies

  1. Bowl of sand, dirt, or glitter
  2. Glue Bottle
  3. Paper
  4. Small spoon

Creative Invitation: Set up a bowl of sand and a glue bottle next to a piece of paper. Invite your child to squeeze the glue onto the paper, and then pour sand onto the glue. Pour the sand back into the bowl when you’re done coating the glue. Encourage experimentation. Have more sheets of paper ready for experiments.

Questions to ask: What happens when we pour sand on top of the glue? What shapes can you draw with the glue? What other material could we sprinkle on the glue?

Variations: Younger children may have trouble squeezing the glue bottle. If that’s the case with your child, offer a small bowl of glue and a paintbrush as an alternative to the glue bottle. Baby food containers are perfect for this job. See this post for visual inspiration.

An easy Art Invitation with Glue and Sand that encourages creativity and independent thinking |  From the Creative Table Series | TinkerLabAn easy Art Invitation with Glue and Sand that encourages creativity and independent thinking | From the Creative Table Series |  TinkerLab

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

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

Face Painting Station from Mama Papa Bubba

Contact Paper, Tissue, and Sequins from Mama Papa Bubba

Sewing Station from Mama Papa Bubba

 

Creative Table: Leaves and Glue

This post is sponsored by New York Life. One way to pass along good is through Life Lessons: Simple but important truths that guide our everyday actions.


In an effort to help you minimize holiday stress, through the end of the year, we’ll share some of our favorite, simple Creative Table invitations. Today’s set-up was inspired by a parent-led project at my daughter’s preschool.

Two of the things that I adore about today’s creative table are that it’s low-cost and seasonal for Autumn, when fallen leaves are abundant.

The Benefits of “Leaves and Glue”

This activity will help children…

  • develop fine-motor skills
  • learn to work independently
  • build creative confidence through experimentation
  • Encourage creative thinking
  • build an eye for aesthetics by developing a composition
  • develop a broader understanding of upcycling materials (i.e. leaves) as art supplies

Creative Table with Leaves and Glue

Creative Table Supplies: Leaves and Glue

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

leaves and glue on paper

Step One: Clear Your Table

Remove any distractions that will take your child’s focus away from the creative invitation. Create a set-up that looks something like our photo (above).

Arrange the leaves artfully to make this appeal to your child’s aesthetic sensibility.

Once the table is “set,” ask your child if he or she would like to use/explore/experiment with these supplies.

leaves and glue painting

Challenges and Critical Thinking

One of the exciting challenges in this prompt relates to gluing down bumpy, twisted, and generally non-compliant leaves. If your child is frustrated by the non-flat quality of your leaves, or has difficulty gluing them down, this is an opportunity to tease out solutions. You could say something like, “Hmmm, I see you’re having trouble attaching the leaf to the paper. What could we do to help it stick better?” From that, ideas such as “add more glue” or “turn the leaf over” might emerge.

Variations:

  • Replace leaves with paper cut into leaf shapes, circles, rectangles, etc.
  • Tint the glue with a little bit of food coloring or liquid watercolors
  • Before you set up the invitation, go on a leaf hunt together to collect your materials

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This post is sponsored by New York Life. One way we pass along good is through Life Lessons: Simple but important truths that guide our everyday actions. You can see all the Life Lessons here and even share one of your own. This short video celebrates the spirit of passing down hobbies through generations.

Creative Table: Doilies and Scissors

Easy set-up Creative Table Invitaiton with Doilies and tape

With the stressful holidays coming upon us, I thought it would be a great time to introduce a few of our favorite easy and simple Creative Table Invitations. If you’re not familiar, Creative Table Invitations are essentially open-ended set-ups or provocations that invite children to explore materials, test ideas, and experiment with techniques…in their own way and on their own schedule.

In addition to the aforementioned outcomes, there are two guiding goals that contribute to the design of these invitations:

  1. They should not take a lot of time to set up
  2. The materials should be readily accessible or easy-to-find

If you’re a busy parent or a caregiver with a full day of meal-prep, cleaning, and activity planning, you’ll appreciate the simplicity of these invitations.

The Benefits of “Doilies and Scissors”

This activity will:

  • Help children develop fine-motor skills
  • Offer an opportunity to work independently and build creative confidence
  • Teach scissor-skills through practice
  • Encourage creative thinking

Creative Table Supplies: Doilies and Scissors

  1. Doilies
  2. Scissors
  3. Tape
  4. Construction Paper

Doilies and Clear tape set up

Step One: Clear Your Table

Remove any distractions that will take your child’s focus away from the creative invitation. In this case, you should just have your supplies on the table.

Set them up in an inviting way and ask your child if he or she would like to use/explore/experiment with these supplies.

Cutting Doilies and Clear tape

Step Two: Sit Back

Once your child has picked up on the offer, sit back and watch…or even make your own version of the project. You could also make objective comments such as, “I see that you’re cutting the doily into tiny pieces,” or “I hear you counting as you cut.”

If your child needs help with the scissors, by all means step in and offer assistance, but the overall objective is to foster independence and creative thinking so try to keep your involvement to a minimum.

Creative Table with Doilies and Clear tape

Do you have a heavy-bottom tape dispenser like this? These are great, and enable children to independently remove pieces of tape on their own. For some reason, my three-year old wanted to cut the tape too, and removed it from the dispenser.

Doilies and Clear tape 1

My daughter spent about twenty minutes on this before starting a new one. These were promptly taped to our gallery door, so my big takeaway was that there was a lot of pride in the execution of this activity.

Doilies and Clear tape 2

Variations:

  • Replace doilies with magazine pages, junk mail, construction paper, newspaper, etc.
  • Replace clear tape with washi tape or painter’s tape.
  • Tape a large piece of butcher paper to a wall and invite your child to tape their pieces to this vertical surface.

More Creative Table Ideas

Check back soon for more Creative Table ideas. If you liked today’s post, you might also enjoy:

A Sticker Composition with Frames

Why it’s important to keep a clear table for Creative Table Projects

Creative Table on Instagram

Join our Active Newsletter

Be sure to subscribe to our useful and fun newsletter if you’d like the inside scoop on more ideas like this, giveaways, exclusive contests, and more.