“Above all, we are coming to understand that the arts incarnate the creativity of a free people. When the creative impulse cannot flourish, when it cannot freely select its methods and objects, when it is deprived of spontaneity, then society severs” ~ John F. Kennedy
Do you set up open-ended prompts or invitations for art-making?
Making art, and in turn creative thinking, is rooted in discovery, experimentation, and the free exploration of materials. Projects that foster independent thinking focus on the processes of creation and experimentation rather than the final product.
If you spend any time on Pinterest, you know that the internet is full of ideas for creating beautiful kids’ crafts, but I caution you that while these projects may deliver a tidy product, they may not have your child’s best interests in mind. Your best bet for fostering creative growth is to set up open-ended art-making invitations. Not only will your child’s imagination thrive, but you’ll have less to stress over and prepare for.
To get started, choose a few related materials, lay them out on your table, and see what your child (and maybe you!) can come up with.
Our most recent art invitation included these materials:
- Washi Tape
- Glue Stick
- Found Book (or any type of paper would work)
- Sketchbook (From our Double Page Spread project)
I placed the materials on the table and began by flipping through the book in search of interesting images. My 4-year old paid attention to my curiosity and jumped right in to share which images she wanted me to cut out for her.
We built a small collection of favorites. As she glued or taped, I cut. An added surprise is that we talked a little bit about the content of the images along the way (bird houses versus bird feeders, the most colorful birds we could think of — she insists it’s the Scarlet Macaw and I can’t really argue with that!).
Washi tape is one of my more recent art material splurges. If you don’t know about washi tape, it’s a decorative Japanese masking tape, It has a bit of a glossy sheen to it, it’s usually somewhat transparent, and it makes everything look adorable.
Before leaving on a recent trip we visited the art supply store for traveling supplies, and two packs of Washi tape begged for us to buy them. Washi is not cheap, but I’ve noticed that a little bit goes a long way. While my 23-month old could use miles of it in 5 seconds flat, my 4-year old used it sparingly.
The plaid rolls come in this set of three: Kikkerland Plaid Washi Masking Tape. I heard that Target carries an inexpensive brand of washi tape (I think the brand is Smash), but they were all out when I visited. Not surprised, really, since washi tape seems to be all the rage in the scrapbooking world at the moment, but I’ll an eye out for it on future trips.
The beauty of the art invitation for us parents is that they cut down on our stress. Aside from making sure that you have some materials to work with, these invitations don’t require a lot of fancy preparations or planning. On top of that, there is no expectation to create something with a specific outcome. Keep these words in mind for successful art making with kids: The Journey is the Destination.
More on Invitations
- If you’d like to share an art invitation with my readers, check out this post: What’s On Your Creative Table?
- Join the next Tinkerlab Creative Challenge, an open-ended invitation to create with milk jugs or cartons
- Anna from The Imagination Tree shares beautiful and inspiring photos of Play Invitations on her Facebook page.
- Play at Home Mom shares this post called The “Invitation”.
- Art Invitation: Self-serve Valentines, Tinkerlab
- Play Invitation: Pom-Poms and Bowls, Tinkerlab
Do you set up art invitations? How does your child respond to them?
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