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


  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



Rachelle is an arts educator, coach, and author of the best selling kids’ craft-meets-science book, TinkerLab: A Hands-on Guide for Little Inventors. Her articles and ideas on creativity and arts education have been featured in School Arts Magazine, Real Simple, and FamilyFun. Rachelle has an art studio in Palo Alto, CA  and leads an active Facebook group, Club TinkerLab, which is home to over 6000 maker parents and educators.

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  1. janelle says

    You inspire me to think out of the box with my littles my 3 almost 4yr old n my almost 2 year old are a handful lol the older one has a short fuse n gets frustrated so fast when table time is too much n the younger just wants to b included n I just want to be as encouraging n patient as I can n your simple approach to creative outlets for kids is so refreshing and helpful!

  2. Swarm says

    one of the nicest gifts my husband ever gave me was some construction paper he drew a heart on with glue and had my son (then about 1) put pebbles from the garden over. I have it framed. I think it was for mothers day.