Invitation to Create: What Do Children Learn?

Welcome to a Micro Training with Mother Goose Time.

Today we are discussing what children learn when participating in an Invitation to Create.

The process of creating open-ended art offers children opportunities to explore a range of art techniques while also strengthening their creative thinking skills.

Do you ever wonder why some people can come up a hundred new ideas an hour while others struggle to find just one good idea? Or how is it that someone takes the risk to invent a crazy new idea like a personal computer, the internet or even those practical things like a lightbulb or a dishwasher? (I love my dishwasher.)

This has to do with one’s ability to tap into the right brain.

The right brain enables us to look at things from new perspectives. It helps us to innovate, problem-solve and manage change. Researchers have discovered that the top four skills our children will need when entering the workforce in the 21st century are problem-solving, creative thinking, collaborating and communicating.

The rapid changes in our world require new skills for future new jobs. As Early Childhood educators, it is important for us to lay the foundation for children to grow up learning how to be flexible, to take the initiative and to produce something new and useful.

The Invitation to Create program in the Mother Goose Time curriculum is specifically designed to strengthen your child’s use of his right brain and therefore increase his ability to be resourceful with what is set before him in order to creatively express his idea, solve a problem and cope with change.

As children participate in these Invitations to Create, they also learn and practice important techniques that support eye-hand coordination, muscle control and spatial reasoning such as:

  • Cutting
  • Color mixing
  • Squirting
  • Stamping
  • Gluing
  • Painting
  • Drawing lines and shapes
  • Overlapping materials and working with space
  • Controlling writing tools for stenciling and tracing

Your role during open-ended art experiences is as a guide. The guide does three things while children create their art:

  1. Provide the Tools:

    : Many of which we have included in the Mother Goose Time curriculum system for you to use as you set up the invitations.

  2. Ask Prompts:

    These are the questions that will help trigger the child’s right brain to think creatively about how he can use the materials and what he wants to invent. By asking him thinking prompts, he builds metacognitive skills.

  3. Observe and Take Notes:

    While the child creates or responds to your prompts, make notes on what the child says, does and the skills he or she applies in the process. This will be important for helping parents understand the depth of the art. Let me explain.

First, I will tell you about three different art creations by three different children. They each came up with a different way to use the keys. I will reflect on their art and highlight the skills they demonstrated. This is also how you can talk to parents about the child’s art. You can help make the child’s learning visible to the parents by offering an interpretative analysis of the art. This is a fancy way to say, share the story behind the art! For example:


“Jules placed her key under the paper and then rubbed over it with the crayon. She experimented with different amounts of pressure when rubbing over the key. One time the crayon broke so she realized she would need to press more lightly. She also investigated the difference of rubbing over metal and then plastic keys.”

Tracing and Drawing

“Caleb traced around the keys and made a circle pattern with them. You can see evidence of math and patterns skills in a design like this. Art is an opportunity for children to integrate math and language skills into the safety of their creative expression. He even decided to make three keys sparkle with glitter and then added yellow marks on either side, creating symmetry on both sides of the paper. Maybe he can’t tell us in mathematical terms what he did, but he can show us what he knows through art.”

Cutting and Conversation

“Carrie cut up her piece of paper into the shape of a house. She told me that the glitter is the light from the lamps in the house. She also problem-solved how to cut a door that opens and closes. She used the key to pretend lock and unlock it. Throughout the whole creation process, she explained how everything she made was symbolic and represented something intentional.”

By giving parents the interpretative story of the art and highlighting the techniques and skills that the child applied, you help make the child’s learning visible both to the parents and to the child.

Extend the Art Experience

After the children are done visiting the art table and you see that it is time to take down this Invitation so that you can set up another, think about creative ways to extend the experience into another area in your room. We like to say that creative art experiences do not end: they extend.

By simply adding the keys to the playdough bin, the children began investigating and creating with them in a whole new way. This teaches them that something can be used in many different ways for many different purposes. I’m sure you can imagine that when the children started pressing the keys into playdough, they then wanted to see what other objects make an interesting imprint in the playdough. The investigation never ends.

Enjoy setting up your own investigation to create today and tune in again for more ideas on how to stimulate creative and critical thinking with Mother Goose Time.

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