Eager to create more creative moments with your children? There’s a good chance you’ve come across the term ‘invitation to create’ on Instagram, Pinterest or craft packed parenting blogs – but what does this popular term mean? And how does an invitation to create benefit our kids?
The good news: it’s easy to understand. An invitation to create is simply an environment that ‘invites’ young children to get involved with a creative activity – whether that’s exploring sensory play, a cut and stick craft, painting, a heap of new materials to experiment with – the opportunities are endless.
The aim is to simply capture a child’s imagination and provide the materials for them to engage their natural creativity and problem-solving skills.
Why should we set-up invitations to create?
So often, adults set up craft activities for children with an intended outcome – perhaps with specific instructions to follow and a specific ‘product’ in mind to create. While there’s no harm in this within a mix of creative activities, this sort of adult-led crafting restricts our children.
An invitation to create intentionally allows children the means to create ‘how they see fit’ respecting their innate creativity and allowing them the opportunity to use their imagination fully. It’s always fascinating to see children using their natural creativity and exploring materials in ways we could have never expected!
Creative play has other huge developmental benefits too. It can boost both fine and gross motor skills, aid in basic maths skills (like geometry, sorting, and measuring) and offer an outlet to express emotions and strengthen mental wellbeing.
Setting up an engaging invitation to create
There are no strict rules to setting up an ‘invitation to create’ but if you feel overwhelmed by the idea of offering your child an open-ended creative task, here are a few tips to presenting a creative opportunity they will learn from and enjoy:
• Make it hands-on
If your idea of getting creative is currently restricted to paper and pens/paintbrush, think again. To let our children, get the biggest benefits from being creative we need to allow them to use their whole bodies – particularly their little hands and fingers! Think about how you can set up an invitation to create that lets them manipulate materials without tools and to explore new textures and materials.
• Make it messy
Most kids love getting messy! Whether it’s exploring the different ways to use paint, using plenty of gloopy glue or shaking glitter and sprinkles about the place – it’s all part of using their creative freedom fully. To keep them engaged for longer, set up their invitation to create in a space where you feel happy for them to make a mess and let them go for it.
• Make it ‘grown-up’
Another way to really capture their imagination is to give them a sense of responsibility as they create. Using real tools like wood, nails and hammers is a great one! Or simply trusting them with scissors, glue and tape to use however they want without limit.
• Make it obvious
While you don’t want to be completely prescriptive, it’s important that your invitations to create are clearly defined. This means setting up your craft activity and giving your child a quick explanation of how the materials ‘could’ be used (this is not the same as describing what the final piece will look like). The fun is then watching them as they explore and add their own creative twists!
• Use other people’s ideas!
You don’t have to think everything up yourself. Pinterest is full of amazing craft ideas (see our Kid’s Craft Prompt board). Our blog ‘Brilliant Kids Books to Encourage Creative Thinking’ will introduce to some inspiring craft books too.
Oglee Poglee’s pre-filled craft party bags are a lovely example of quick and easy ‘invitations to create’ you can gift your child at any time and unleash their creativity. Which one would most capture their imagination?