30 Simple Invitations to Create
There's a knock on the door. Soft at first and then louder. I cover my head with the blankets but I hear the door creak open and little foot steps moving closer. Another set of feet comes running in behind and before I know it they have bounded onto the bed.
"Mama are you awake?"
As if someone, somewhere could actually sleep through two children jumping on them. If I wasn't before I am awake now.
Every morning I wish that I could will myself to be a morning person, but it never happens. My children bound out of bed full of busy chatter and hectic movements that startle and overwhelm me. They want help and they want breakfast and they have somehow created a list of 20 questions before I've even stepped out of bed.
For a long time I just suffered through my mornings, nodding my head and grunting at their questions until my brain and body somehow moved past their early fuzzy state, but not any more. Morning invitations have completely transformed our mornings.
Now there are many mamas out there that swear by getting up before their kids. I completely get this and I have tried to make this happen for me but I simply can't. I like my bed just too darn much to get up earlier than I have to. There are other moms that enjoy these morning snuggles in bed. I wish I did but that's not me either and frankly my kids are much more Tigger-like than snuggly.
Around the time our twins turned four I realized that I didn't need to be awake to monitor their every movement in the morning any more. I did however have to provide some direction or there was a ceaseless list of questions, conflicts, and issues that I wasn't awake enough to handle patiently. Enter morning invitations.
Now we do this: Every evening I set out a simple morning invitation. My criteria for a morning invitation includes;
*Something open ended and fun
*Something we have done before
*Something they can do on their own
*Something that takes less than 5 minutes to set up
In the morning they get dressed and come downstairs. They find whatever is on the table and work on that.
I wake up when I hear them getting dressed (because they do nothing quietly). While they create at the table I get ready and slowly wake up.
When I come out of my room, I check in on their work at the table. They are often full of things to share by this point. Then I start breakfast. When they are ready they stop working, help clean up and then unload the dishwasher. Then we start our day.
Nothing is perfect so there are sometimes conflicts over materials and occasionally something I put out is a flop. Most mornings however I come into the kitchen to them happily chatting and working. The table is full of color pieces of art or playdoh creations and I am mostly ready to be a mom.
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Start simple. Look around your art cabinet or kitchen or playroom. If you're like me, you tend to accumulate random art supplies. Drawers of washi tape? Many boxes of markers? Odd recyclables that you thought "this might be something cool."
The invitations that tend to do the best in my house are open ended and simple so don't overthink.
My son is to the point when he almost always insists on a white piece of paper. He doesn't like purple construction paper or my ideas getting in the way of the ones in his head. Simple invitations are also easy to use with children of multiple ages.
1. Paper + Crayons or Markers
2. Paper + Stickers
3. Paper + Tape (so many kinds of tape!)
4. Paper + Glue + Collage Materials
5. Paper + Stamps (We love these sets)
6. Black Paper + Chalk
Paint Dabbers (find online) or Bingo Dabbers (find online) are just messy enough to be fun, but completely washable and mostly containable. We have both the re-fillable paint dabbers which provide you will more options and Bingo Dabbers which are pre-filled and in some ways much easier. We love both and they work great on different surfaces.
7. Bingo Dabbers + Paper
8. Bingo Dabbers + Styrofoam
9. Bingo Dabbers + Paper + Watercolor Brush (See Post)
Once your child has learned the basics of watercolor painting and had some time to practice, this simple invitation can be waiting for them on the table in the morning.
10. Watercolors + Watercolor Paper
11. Watercolors + Watercolor Paper WITH Frame Drawn on Edges
12. Watercolors + Watercolor Paper WITH Other Simple Shapes Outlined
This one was inspired by the talented Jean from The Artful Parent. She shared the simple circle stickers on paper invitations a while ago and I have since used it many times. She is completely genius because you can buy a huge pack of these hole reinforcing stickers for less than $1.
They work great on their own to inspire different ideas, but it also pairs well with other themes. Most recently we used in with the amazing Creaturepedia book that we couldn't stop oogling over last week.
13. Hole Stickers Next to the Paper + Drawing Materials
14. Hole Stickers on the Paper WITH Book or Photo Inspiration + Drawing Materials
15. Hole Stickers + Yarn or Collage Materials
We have a HUGE bucket of letters (similar to this one) that are fun for all kinds of activities, but sometimes the most simple is best.
16. Letters + Paper
17. Letters + Paper + Word Cards
18. Letters + Paper + Markers
My kids inherited quite the collection of Dover stencils from my childhood (which are still amazingly in tact). I have them for a bunch of different themes so they get pulled out to inspire some drawing or storytelling. This is another one that you want to make sure your child knows how to use before you leave it out for them to do independently.
Stenciling can be a tricky concept for kids to grasp and some of our stencils requre some more refined fine motor skills. My kids are able to do this pretty well now at age 5.
19. Stencils + Paper + Pencil
20. Stencils + Paper + Washi Tape
21. Stencils + Paper + Scissors
My kids picked out these Finding Dory watercolor pages and they are kind of obsessed. Every now and then I throw in an invitation with a few pages on the table and their watercolors. SUPER easy for me and they are always delighted.
Crayola's mess free color wonder sheets are also one of our favorites for traveling - especially when my twins were younger. Sometimes I even still put out a morning invitation or afternoon invitation for them on vacation to help keep their day consistent and this is a great one because I don't have to worry about scribbles on someone else's table.
22. Watercolor Activity Sheets + Watercolors
23. Crayola Color Wonder Sheets + Markers
Preschoolers love to learn to use "tools." The three big ones in our house are scissors, hole punches, and staplers.
24. Scissors + Construction Paper or Wrapping Paper
25. Scissors + Paper WITH Lines Draw
26. Hole Punches + Paper
27. Hole Punches + Sticky Tape
28. Smaller Squares of Paper + Stapler
Various Creative Materials. See activities.
10+ Ways to Create with Tape : READ POST
20+ Drawing Ideas for Crayons, Markers + More : READ POST
30 Invitations to Play + Create : READ POST
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