Understanding Invitations to Create

Invitation to Create is a process-based art experience offered by Experience Curriculum that embraces a constructivist approach to teaching. It supports the highest standard of early learning research where materials are provided for children to use and explore as they desire. Invitations to Create support creative development through process-based learning and promotes child development.

What is Invitation to Create?

  • Process-based art experience
  • A research-based system that embraces a constructivist approach to teaching
  • Supports the highest standard of early learning research
  • Materials are provided for children to use and explore as they desire

Process Art vs. Product Art

Process art is art without step-by-step instructions. There’s no sample for children to copy and no right or wrong way to make it. The focus is on the experience and exploring the materials, tools, or techniques resulting in original and unique art. Making art is a relaxing and calming experience and the art will be entirely the child’s own work.

So when you set up your Invitation to Create, you won’t find exact directions on how to make a specific project or how to exactly use the materials. The children will decide! Sound easy, right?! Read: Self-Exploring Through Unguided Art

What’s Included

Inspiration Photo – real photos or images of famous art. The purpose of the Inspiration photo is to communicate a concept or inspire creative art based on a topic. Children are not expected to recreate the Inspiration Photo.

Title Card – may be used during the art experience to introduce literacy into the center. It can also be used to create a display after the artwork is complete to communicate with viewers of the art.

Question – It may be used as part of the art experience, as a prompt for the artists to consider while working. It also becomes part of the display when art is put on a wall or bulletin board. This adds further definition to the art for the observer. It gives us a glimpse into what the child was thinking about while creating.

Description – A description card is included with each Invitation to Create. It gives us some background and talking points with the children. Again, it can also be used as part of an art display which gives the viewer greater context to the art. The description card may explain a technique children are learning about like Pointillism or tell us about a famous artist, some history, or concepts the children may be introduced to through the art experience. 

Supplies or tools – some materials will be included to get you started. It’s optional to add additional materials to work with.

What do Invitations to Create look like? 

It’s just what it says – it’s an invitation to create. There’s an inviting aspect that draws the child’s attention and excites them to create. 

Set up is flexible and can be as simple or detailed as you’d like. Be creative!

This Invitation to Create is set up at a table for a small group.

What Do Children Learn?

There are many benefits to process art in multiple domains.

Physical Development: Small motor skills for future writing, buttoning, and zipping.

Language & Literacy Development: name new art materials, tools, and concepts like scissors, collage, orange, long, sticky. Children will participate in conversations about the art they’ve created.

Social & Emotional Development:  Satisfaction in self exploration & expression. Art supports the development of self-regulation and self-control as the child focuses, makes choices, and feels successful.  The ability to focus is important to future school success.

How to Set Up Invitation to Create Art

  1. What is the goal? The goal may be the activity process, such as learning a new art technique. The goal may be skill-oriented or it may be to tell a story or express feelings through art.
  2. Choose a location. Will art take place indoors or outdoors? In a large group or small group setting
  3. Gather art supplies and containers. Add books or other interesting items.
  4. Start simple. Children may be overwhelmed if given too many choices. After they become familiar with creating art with Invitations, add more resources for them to use.

Tips for Leading Invitations to Create

Allow enough time for children to work and say “YES” to their ideas. Turn on some music and engage their senses! Please don’t attempt to “fix” art. Make sure art is a fun experience, not stressed. Be sure to ask artists questions: What do you see in the picture? What do you think will happen? How can you…?


Art resources may not be used as you think they will. This is okay! Try NOT to have certain expectations and allow the process to unfold. You will be surprised! The art might not look like anything specific. Children may spend more time exploring tools or supplies or working on one skill. A child may spend a long time or a little time at art.

The Educator’s Role

We do not provide specific directions or photos of what the art “should look like” because the focus is on the process not the product. There will be more than one interpretation of the Invitation to Create. There is no “right” way to crate the art. The educator is welcome to guide the process as much as desired; however, simply providing the Inspiration Photo and materials is enough. The educator’s role is to ask questions and support the children’s choices and creativity. Questions related to the Invitation to Create are included in the Teacher Guide. The children should be encouraged to create as desired, exploring the materials and creating their own art.

Displaying Artwork

Don’t forget to display artwork! It’s important that children see that we value their work. Use the Inspiration photo, Title card, and question amongst the artwork to round out your display and add context. Print photos of the children working and add observations or quotations from children to make learning visible.

Educating Parents About Art

It’s our job to educate parents about art. Parents may not understand the art. It might not be what parents think they “want”. When you talk to families, talk about the concepts, tools, and skills used while their child worked. Display art with photo documentation and explanations. Post on social media the what and why. Send home information. Provide daily art notes. Help parents ask their children questions about their art.

Experience Curriculum provides these resources for communicating with parents about art. Children may not have the words to explain what they made or why, so we can help. The My Creative Mind notes come with the curriculum each week to coordinate with art. The Art is Smart PDF is available to you to share with parents. 

Try An Invitation to Create

Use these free downloadable materials available to you to try an Invitation to Create.

Ready to provide amazing Invitation to Create experiences for your children? Order now and receive new art resources, tools and inspiration each month!