If you’ve been following along with our art space series, then by now you’ve determined why your children really need an art space in the home, and some super simple tips and steps to getting one set up and introducing the right materials at the right time. In this final post in our series, I want to introduce “Invitations to Create,” which are meant to inspire your child to expand their artistic and creative abilities in a variety of ways!
This is a series of posts designed to help you create an open-ended art space that will inspire your child to be creative, expressive, and to share their ideas and interests through visual art.
PART 3- Setting Up Invitations to Create
“Imagination is the beginning of creation.” – George Bernard Shaw
So you might be asking yourself – what exactly IS an “Invitation to Create”? What a perfect place to start! An invitation to create is exactly that…. An invitation to your child to use or explore a specific set of materials that you set out for them in any way that makes creative sense to them. While you are intentionally designing the setup of these invitations to inspire and motivate your child to use the materials and create something, there should be no expectations as to the outcome! For example, you might set out a vase of flowers, some blank canvas, and watercolors to inspire your child to paint a picture of the flowers that they see, but your child might choose to paint a rainbow giraffe, or maybe they’ll take a flower out of the vase and use that as a paintbrush, or perhaps they’ll paint the flower! All of these outcomes are just as remarkable as what you might have had in mind (often even more so)!
Why use invitations to create if you already have done all the work to setup a beautiful, inspiring, open ended art space?
Now you might be thinking – wait a second… I just put together this awesome art space – isn’t that supposed to motivate my kids enough to be creative?
Well… yes and no.
Of course having access to all of these amazing art supplies gives your children the opportunity and the benefits of being able to reach out and create something anytime their heart desires. On the other hand, there are a few reasons why setting up invitations to create every now and then are super useful, even in the most glorious of art spaces.
1 – Introducing new materials. Remember in the last post when we talked about slowly and intentionally introducing new materials so your children actually know what each thing in their space is for? An invitation to create is the best way to introduce a new material to your kids! Instead of just sitting them down and saying: “here’s this new thing I got you – use it this way,” give them the chance to freely explore and make determinations on their own as to what this new material is best for! For example – if you’re going to introduce clay for the first time, you could set up an invitation to create with a clump of clay, a small container of water, some sculpting tools, and a few natural loose parts. After they spend some time exploring and creating, you can talk about the new material in a much more meaningful way because they’ve actually had their hands on it!
2 – Aligned with current interests or themes of study. Are you and your child studying the human body right now? Set up an invitation to create with playdough, sculpting tools, small pieces like pipe cleaners, beads, and sequins, and some photos of magnified cells for inspiration! Using invitations to create is a remarkable way to invite your child to create something based on what they’re currently learning about. It’s also a great way for you to observe and assess some of the knowledge that your child is gaining, as self-expression is a wonderful way for your child to showcase their understanding!
3 – Enticing new creations and ideas. Sometimes the invitations to create can be just for pure fun and enjoyment! Notice some materials your child hasn’t touched in awhile? How can you set up an invitation to create that might have them explore these in a new way? Think outside of the box and set up an invitation to create with some non-art space materials to get those imaginative and creative juices flowing. Things like aluminum foil, nuts and bolts, nature items, kitchen tools… so many things can be brought into the art environment and used in an invitation to create to encourage your children to try something new explore their creative boundaries.
Ok, so this all sounds pretty great right?! Now… how do I set these invitations to create up?
That’s the best part of all… There is no wrong way to do this! More important than the materials you choose is the way you present it to your child. You want this to encourage them to start picking things up and getting to creative work right away – presentation and display is everything. There are no rules, for example… You can include something to inspire your child, like a photo, book, or even a previous art creation, or not. Try to keep it to one major medium (clay OR paint OR pastels), but sometimes combining clay and paint can be super messy fun! Not everything has to make sense together, you’d be amazed what your child can do with paint, pine cones, glue, and a canvas.
Basically? Think outside the box a bit, and display the invitation to create in a way that would inspire YOU to sit down and explore.
Need some more inspiration yourself? Check out the hashtags #yournaturallearner to see what others in our community and myself are setting up for our kids, and #invitationtocreate to explore tons of ideas! Don’t forget to use the tags to share what you set up for your children to inspire others as well!