The previous week, Zoë had a huge meltdown. It was gymnastic’s day, and ever since we enrolled her in the class to keep her preoccupied during her school break, the tantrums have been crazier. It was a battle between dealing with the arguing and endless crying, or give in and let her have her way. I did what every sane mother would do; chose the easiest way out and stayed home, of course.
When staying home with a high-energy girl, I always have to be prepared with activities to keep her busy. My go-to, full-proof diversion to keep her happy and engaged? Setting up an Invitation to Create!
An Invitation to Create is simply setting up a table with a selection of art materials, prompting your child to get creative. The idea is for them to exercise their imagination, allowing their creativity to flourish, while encouraging independent thinking.
For the afternoon’s setup, I laid out some colored and corrugated papers, ribbons, felt shapes, dried pasta, buttons, pipe cleaners, markers and some glue. I left the materials out on her table, and allowed her to get busy.
Without giving any instructions or imposing what she should make, I allowed her to explore and be creative in her own way.
In a heartbeat, she dug into the supplies and started on her masterpiece. Cut-snip-glue, off she experimented with each material.
With an array of colorful crafts, she laid out each piece on her paper, matching and layering.
I’ve realized that these Invitations to Create are perfect for my spirited little girl, who’s not a huge fan of always being told what to do. This activity allows her to decide for herself. It allows her to take the lead and experiment with materials on her own.
I love seeing her engrossed in her work. Having total control, she enjoys the freedom of taking her ideas wherever she wants. Just look at that determination!
After about 30 minutes of pure concentration, she ran up to me and presented her little masterpiece. Her paper, adorned with what looks like randomly glued ephemera and baubles, is actually what she calls Zoë’s Garden. Each piece, carefully placed to create a picture of “a hill, filled with flowers, plants, birds and butterflies,” she shares. So much imagination and creativity in one activity!
Not only did Zoë enjoy getting creative, but being so engrossed and in her element throughout the process made her instantly forget about her cranky morning, too! Extra points for this mommy, because the rest of the day was rewarded with a jolly four-year-old, sans all the tantrums and drama. Yay!
Would you like to set up an Invitation to Create for your kids, too?
Here are some tips:
- Have the materials ready ahead of time. Take them out when you need some peace and quiet. It works like a charm, every single time!
- You don’t need expensive materials. Make use of what you have at home. Even scrap paper will do!
- Let them lead; allow them to use the materials as they please.
- Make it an open-ended activity. Let them decide where they want to take their ideas and creativity. Leave it to them to tell you when their artwork is finished.
- Remember that aside from the finished product, the whole activity should be about the process. Let it be about exploration, creativity and being independent.
- Sit back and let them have fun!