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


  1. What kind of paint pens do you use? or did I miss that?

  2. I’m glad you pointed out it’s important for kids to take the creative lead sometimes. 🙂 Can you tell me where you got your kids’ table? I’m looking for one that seats two on each side like that. Thanks!

    • Hi Nikki,
      The table is from Pottery Barn. It’s the Carolina (large) table. We love it.

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