Invitation to Create with CD’s + Paint Pens

Today I’m sharing a materials challenge as an invitation to create. You can find more Invitations to Create in The Creative Table Project.


This month has been crazy busy, but a few days ago I was actually able to wrap my head around a creative project ahead of time and set this table up *the night before.* Gasp. Do you ever do this? It’s been a while since I have, and I always feel like I’ve embraced my inner-preschool teacher when it happens. Anyway, I look at this type of project as a provocation.

The idea here is that the materials relate to the child’s interests and abilities, are intriguing and suggestive, but there’s no expected outcome. 

Invitation to Create with CD's and Paint Pens

Here’s what I used:

  • old CD’s
  • colorful paper tape
  • glue bottles
  • stickers
  • paint pens
  • washable markers
  • scissors.

The fun thing is that almost as soon as my kids, ages one and three, woke up, they were engaged, intrigued, excited, and full of ideas.

Invitation to Create with CD’s + Paint Pens

N, my 3-year old, picked out the paint pens and started drawing on the CD’s. After a bit of complaining that they dried up, she learned how to press the tip up and down until the ink flowed freely.

Invitation to Create with CD’s + Paint Pens

My one-year old is turning into one of her sister’s biggest fans and wants to do everything her older sibling does.

No paint pens for her, however, because she’s not ready for permanent markers just yet. So I handed her the washable markers. Thank goodness, because she managed to pull the carefully secured table cloth up and draw all over the table in the 30 seconds I turned my back.

Lesson learned!

Invitation to Create with CD’s + Paint Pens

Process over Product

While the final product isn’t much to look at, the process speaks loud and clear. Some of the gains from this invitation to create.

  1. They were engaged
  2. They tried using new materials
  3. They used non-art materials for making, which teaches resourcefulness
  4. and I can’t wait to do this again. 🙂

Invitation to Create with CD’s + Paint Pens

More Invitations to Create


    • I wish you had one near you too. I’ve learned that they’re hard to come by.

  1. i love this approach and really like the materials you’ve incorporated – goodness knows we all have CDs around we’re not listening to anymore. i used to assemble prompts regularly when my children were younger and at home more, but now that they’re in school all day, i’ve gotten away from it. so thanks! i really appreciate the reminder, because we can still incorporate this approach into our new routine – on weekends, holidays/breaks, or even smaller prompts once a week to enjoy before they get on the bus. great post. xoxo

    • Thanks for the lovely comment, Jennifer. I can see how this type of project might slip away as children get older. And you’re so right that you can still set up intriguing projects in the pockets of time that they’re home — they’d be like little surprises in their day or week. I love that!

  2. Love it! Haven’t tried this with such adventurous materials but… this is the best way to entice my little boy to an activity. I often set up little ‘provocations’ – with say scissors and newspaper images, or stamps and inks and doilies, or nature bits & bobs with glue, or veg, herbs and pestle and mortar. Sometimes he bites, sometimes he doesn’t – I never really know what he’s going to go for.

    • I’m so glad you shared the materials that you’ve done this with, Julia! Scissors and newspaper would be fun and special, especially since we never have newspaper around, and you’ve reminded me that it’s been a while since we’ve used doilies.

      I have the same experience with not knowing what will stick or entice…that’s partially why I offered all those materials. And of course, they only used a couple of them.


  3. Great idea – may help keep my little one from finding his own provocation with things I don’t want him in! For the CDs, I made wreath ornaments for Christmas. On the unprinted side, I used spray mount (but you could use glue) then had him sprinkle green glitter on it. After it dried, we glued on red sequins for holly berries, and then tied on a hanger (you could also glue on a bow). A spray of clear coat after helped keep the glitter on. If you wanted them to be two sided, you could glue two together (I left ours with the CD printing on the back). So interesting you know Devo! We worked together many moons ago 🙂 Great lady.

    • Hi M! This is great idea for reusing CD’s — we’ll have to give it a try next month. And yes, I LOVE devo. I’ve known her my whole life and she’s one of those special, wonderful people that make the world a much better place.

  4. Love it! I used to set up many areas of my classroom in this manner, with resources laid out ready for investigating and using in any way that the kids chose. Not only did they create things we would never have predicted, but the scale was always interesting, it often turned into a huge group project and would sometimes span a whole week, being built on and added to every day! That’s what I love about this style of teaching and empowering children to be creative thinkers. Good post!

    • Thanks Anna! Coming from you this is such a compliment. I would have loved to have seen you in the classroom — I bet the parents felt so lucky to have their kids in your program.

Comments are closed.