Child painting with spices and paint

How to Set Up Creative Invitations for Kids ( & Harness Your Child’s Creative Energy!)

Are you looking for ideas to start your day with your kids? Leah McDermott of Your Natural Learner shares ways her family uses creative invitations for kids to begin the mornings smoothly.

Mixing spices and paint for an autumn creative invitations for kids

If your kids are anything like mine, they wake up with ALL the energy. 

They’re ready to conquer the world, space travel to the moon, and ask 400 questions before your first cup of coffee has even touched your lips. 

We could choose to see this as a bad thing – as a rough way to start the morning or a hindrance to the natural flow of things. Or, we could embrace the positive about all that morning energy our kids wake up with….

You see, along with that energy comes focus, attention, excitement, curiosity… all of the things that make a learning and creative experience a thing of dreams! 

So instead of trying to calm them down or work against it, you can HARNESS that energy with creative invitations for kids!

You may have heard of this idea before, as it has many names – morning basket, daily bin, provocation, invitation to play/create/learn, etc. Whatever you call it, they have the same purpose – to immediately engage a child early in the morning. 

A creative sensory morning invitation for kids

Creative Invitations for Kids

A morning invitation could be any number of things:

  • A suggestion to create something with specific materials
  • A sensory activity or bin
  • An exploration related to a current interest
  • A challenge to build something
  • The options are endless!

When your child has the opportunity to explore, create, or problem solve first thing in the morning, several amazing things happen:

  • You are giving your kids a chance to harness all of that curious and creative energy for good!
  • By turning on that creativity in a focused way, it’s a more natural transition to learning experiences later in the day, whether you homeschool or your child is heading off to school. It’s a great “brain primer!”
  • All ages can work together, creating a beautiful natural bonding experience!

Do you have to do them every day? Of course not! Set up morning invitations anytime you want!

Around here though, you’ll find very few mornings that don’t start out this way. For my family, all three of those benefits I mentioned above work together to provide us with a perfect start to our daily routine. And since it only takes me about 10 minutes before I go to bed the night before to set it up, it’s totally worth it.

Potions lab for kids with liquid watercolors

Ideas for Creative Invitations for Kids

So… what EXACTLY do I put in these morning invitations? (You’re probably asking, right?)

The good news is, there really is no WRONG way to do this. Simply create an inviting experience for your child to engage in, and remember that it is supposed to be an open-ended engagement. Meaning that any way your child chooses to engage is ok. Don’t come at this with preconceived notions or expectations. 

For example, you may set up a vase of flowers with a canvas and paint, intending for your child to paint the flowers. But if your child pulls a flower out of the vase and dips it in the paint and paints with that? They’re still being creative and using the invitation in exactly the way that was most meaningful to them!

There are a few different categories of Morning Invitations to choose from to vary your child’s experiences. Here they are, including some of my family’s personal favorite ways to set them up!

Skull painting with kids

1. Invitations to CREATE

These encourage your child to create something. 

Example 1: FALL SPICE PAINTS 

Give your child an assortment of fall spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, ginger, and allspice, along with fall paint colors, and invite them to mix and paint a fall scene on thick paper or a canvas. This is a great sensory experience for children who may not like to get messy, and the end product smells SO delightful once the paint dries! 

Example 2: SKULL SCULPTING

Some modeling clay (Model Magic is great to work with for little ones), sculpting tools, and anatomy books/photos make for a spooky, yet enjoyable opportunity to talk about bones and anatomy. Let the skulls (or bones) dry and then paint them for fun fall decor!

Two children building LEGOs while blindfolded

2. Invitations to PLAY

These are invitations that give your child a chance to explore materials in a playful and open-ended way.

Example 1: PLAYDOUGH INVITATIONS

Nothing quite beats some freshly made playdough, except when it’s set up in a themed and inviting way! Set up an invitation that has playdough and an assortment of materials and loose parts for your child to play and imagine.

Make a fall-themed invitation with fresh spices and nature pieces. Create a turkey invitation with brown playdough, feathers, and pipe cleaners.

Go crazy at Christmas time with peppermint playdough, make a Christmas tree, create a snowman, etc. Kids of all ages will enjoy this!

Example 2: LEGO CHALLENGES

If your house is anything like mine, you can find Lego creations on just about every flat surface! Use these amazing open-ended toys to challenge your child’s problem solving skills and logical thinking.

You can create just about any challenge with Legos, but my kids’ favorite has always been to challenge them to create something while blindfolded! 

Baking soda & vinegar eruptions with LEGOS

3. Invitations to LEARN

These are the more focused invitations that have a specific purpose behind them.

You might be introducing a new concept later that day, so you set up some of the materials in a morning invitation for your child to have a chance to explore before you dive in together. Or you may want them to review some learning concepts that they’ve already been exposed to, so you can invite them to do so on their own.

Example 1: EXPLORE NEW ART MATERIALS

Maybe you’re going to be introducing some new art materials to your home studio. Inviting your child to explore them without any restrictions is a great way for them to be creative, learn, and problem solve before getting explicit instructions from you.

It’s also a fantastic way for YOU to learn about the way your child thinks and explores things before you have a chance to step in and explain. You might just learn something new yourself!

Example 2: POTIONS LAB

Baking soda and vinegar can turn ANY kid into a scientist! Add some food coloring, pipettes, a bunch of containers, and any other random kitchen things you have lying around, and you’ve got yourself a wonderful Science learning invitation.

These should be FUN for everyone! Fun for you to setup and imagine how your child is going to engage with the activities. And fun for your child to explore something new and creative each time a new Morning Invitation shows up.

One final tip: Don’t overcomplicate it. Morning Invitations shouldn’t require much, if any, explanation from you. Try to keep that in mind when you set things up. 

More Ideas for Creative Invitations for Kids

I hope this inspires you to try more creative invitations for kids in your home! 

If you need some simple ideas to get you started, I have created a free printable calendar with a different morning invitation idea for every day of the month! You can download a copy right here. 

And definitely do a search through the Artful Parent website as there are so many amazing ideas floating around to inspire you!

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