Why Morning Invitations?

I started them because my children are early risers and I am sooo not a morning person. Morning invitations allowed us to:

  • Start our morning slowly
  • Start our morning quietly-ish
  • Start our morning creatively (and often bookishly)

What is a Morning Invitation

So this slow, quiet, creative, bookish morning sounds nice, but what is a morning invitation? Put simply,

Morning Invitations are activities placed in the same place every evening for children to discover and do first thing in the morning. 

Invitations are not a new idea. Invitations to Create. Invitations to Play. Invitations to Learn. These are ideas that have been floating around in the Education world for the past couple decade at least. I simply applied them to our morning routine.

Every evening I set out a simple morning invitation and every morning my kids rush out of their rooms with enviable energy for the day, find it on the table and dive it.

My criteria for a morning invitation;

  • 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

Morning Invitations Look Like This

In the morning my twins 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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Kinda Magical Right?

Wanna try? Here are some favorites.

DIY Number Line Morning Invitation Idea from My Storytime Corner

30 Simple Creative Morning Invitations

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. Mine often begin with a book – or a stack of themed books – and then I think about what they could create, learn, play with, explore, or manipulate related to these books. But again – keep it simple!

Start with a White Piece of Paper

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 / Bingo Dabbers

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)

Watercolors

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

Sticker Invitations

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

Letters and Paper

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

Stencils + Paper

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

Activity Sheets

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

Invitations with Tools

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

30+ Morning Invitation Ideas to start your day on a creative note

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