I have a secret. Most mornings, I get to sit quietly and enjoy a cup of coffee (and a piece of chocolate) for a few precious, uninterrupted minutes. Let’s not go crazy, we’re not talking hours, but if I do things right the night before, my little guys wake up in the morning, make themselves some cereal (I help), and then busy themselves with some kind of project.
Sounds almost too good to be true, right? I KNOW. Welcome to the #creativetable.
The #creativetable hashtag can be found on Instagam (and Google+). It was started by my friend Rachelle (the blogger behind Tinkerlab) and is useful for finding play invitation ideas. A play invitation (or “create invitation”) is basically a method of setting out a limited number of art/building/similar supplies, and artfully arranging them to entice your child to explore.
But here’s the key (at least for me): Once the “invitation” is set up…keep your mouth shut. As Rachelle says, you “facilitate” not direct….I call this “drinking coffee”. (potato potahto)
This isn’t a “hey let’s make these cute chicks out of pom-poms and follow my strict instructions by gluing this pom to that pom” kind of an idea. Rather the goal is to give your kids the space to discover, to wonder, to problem solve. Nothing shuts down my kids’ creativity faster than instructions from adults. Have you noticed the same thing? (Along these lines, Rachelle has some amazing guidelines on making art with kids.)
But what I really like about Rachelle’s perspective is that it’s not just about creating, this concept of play invitations. It’s not really even about making art. Instead it’s about learning how to problem solve, how to test limits, how to come up with new ways of doing things, new ways of looking at the world. Giving kids the space to explore, discover, and create (without getting all up in their business) allows kids to develop into the best kind of engineers: innovative ones.
So how to get started?
It’s helpful to have a (relatively uncluttered) place to create. My house is almost always a disaster, but I do try to keep one surface clear for our #creativetable (and in the summer, it’s often on the patio). I like to set things up the night before, so I can do my calm coffee routine in the morning.
For inspiration and ideas on how to set up your own, check out the #creativetable hashtag on Instagram, explore Tinkerlab, or….for the big announcement….go buy Rachelle’s new book, Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors.
Now, I consider myself an old hat at the play invitation game (I’ve been doing this kind of thing for almost three years now) but I still found her book to be….grounding. In the best possible way.
I mean YES: it’s completely inspiring, too (chock full of ideas), but in a I-can-totally-do-that-let’s-start-now kind of way. This isn’t one of those beautiful books you’ll sigh over and then feel depressed because you don’t even know where to start. Rachelle has a whole section on how to create your own Tinkerlab, and the best tools to stock it with. (Hint: If you’ve seen our art cart on Instagram….the idea was ALL Rachelle.) She also has entire sections dedicated to design, building, concocting (my fav! Any other chemistry geeks out there??) and discovering. I’m loving the way this book successfully blends art-based play with science, and we’re talking everything from paper houses to ‘naked egg’ experiments, from painting to creation of a drawing machine (complete with a toy motor).
I mean seriously.
I have one copy to give away (besides ours which is well worn by now – even R thumbs through it for ideas)….so here’s what we’re gonna do: We’re going to play.
To enter the giveaway, do the following:
1. Upload a picture of your own version of #creativetable (no judgement here, Mamas – try anything you want) to Instagram. Don’t forget to use the #creativetable hashtag!
3. “Like” my instagram giveaway pic to be entered into the giveaway
1. Upload a picture of your own version of #creativetable below my post.
You can also do both, for an additional entry.
The giveaway is open to US, Canada, UK and Australia. Let’s play!! (Or…ummm….set things up so the kids play while we relax and enjoy our coffee.)
Hey! Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors is currently the #1 best seller in the Crafts for Kids section on Amazon. Congrats, Rachelle!!