An Amazing Creativity Machine You Probably Already Own

Find inspiration where you least expect it

An Amazing Creativity Machine You Probably Already Own

The incredible amazing creativity machine

You know what’s great about those restaurants where they cover the tables with paper and let the customers draw all over them?

They cover the tables with paper and let the customers draw all over them!

You can’t tell me you’ve never doodled with your friends or family while waiting for your appetizer to arrive because, let’s face it, you love spinach and you really love cheese and you know that no matter what is added to that combo - artichokes, peppers, mud - that dip will always be perfection in a bowl.

But about those tables and those crayons and the fact that you and your dinner mates just can’t help but make marks on that brown craft paper. Someone might begin a game of tic-tac-toe. Someone else might draw one of those “man peeking over a wall” cartoons.  Then there’s that one friend who starts sketching the person sitting across from them, prompting the rest of those at the table to gasp and realize they never knew she could do that.

How does she do that?

Get Dirty; Make Art

Either way - when we’re not eating the ooey, gooey dip that’s a gift direct from the gods, we’re scribbling in the booths.

Why not? It’s not intimidating to draw where you eat; it’s just fun, plain and simple. And it’s worth repeating at home, don’t you think?

We put fruit on the counter so our kids will choose a healthy snack. We place colourful soap dispensers in the bathroom so our kids will wash their hands. We buy toothpaste with a familiar television turtle on it so our kids will brush their teeth.

You see where I’m going with this, right?

So how about a challenge? This week, I’d like you to try a little creativity experiment. I’d like you to make a new centerpiece for your table.

If you’re willing, all you need to start with is a container, with room… for stuff.


I found a mini basket at my neighbourhood dollar store but you probably already have something kicking around the house. A big coffee mug will even do the trick.

Then, start filling the container with some simple craft supplies like these:

art supplies

If you’re adventurous, provide some play dough. If a glue stick makes you jittery, provide tape in its place. If you’re squeamish about having magic markers at the table, then stick to crayons. If crayons make you nervous, grab a handful of pencil crayons. The goal is to have colourful things that will make marks on paper.

Speaking of paper, just walk over to your computer printer and grab a few sheets. Or, maybe you have some colourful construction paper kicking around.  If so, stick a small stack underneath and cut a few pieces into smaller rectangles, stuff them into the container and voila! 

Now put everything on the table and walk away.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always remember to place an Incredible Amazing Creativity Machine on my dining room table. Often it’s covered with Lego, newspapers or rocks. But just the other day, I quietly created the set up you see in these photos. No sooner had I done so that my newly 6-year-old daughter sat down, grabbed a crayon and some small pieces of construction paper.

Selecting crayons.

Next she announced that she was making postcards as she proceeded to draw stamps and pictures on each of them while explaining that she was preparing them to send to her friend Boston who lives in Calgary.

Making postcards.

It’s important to note that she doesn’t have a friend named Boston who lives in Calgary. But that my friends, is imagination at work.

The Fine Print: For the most part, kids are able to start testing out art supplies somewhere around their first birthday. As soon as you see your child showing an interest in scribbling on paper, provide her with crayons – the fatter the better – and be sure to supervise just in case those little hands start to move those crayons close to the mouth. Resist the urge to direct your kids as they draw and instead let them experiment without rules or judgment. There are no wrong answers here. If the family is stuck on where to start, try a “pass the paper around the table” game, giving everyone a chance to add a little something to the drawing. But don’t force it because when it comes to creativity, people don't like to be pushed. Oh and when designing your Incredible Amazing Creativity Machine, stay away from glitter because – as we all know – you can’t undo glitter (ever) and really, no one wants that stuff showing up in the eggs.

Have you made an Incredible Amazing Creativity Machine? What did you use? Crayons in a bowl? Play dough in a jar? Did it work? I’d love to see and hear about it!

Restaurant Image Source: Flickr


Get Dirty, Make Art

Stop Fearing Creativity

Get Dirty, Make Art

arts and crafts

What does it mean to be creative? Is it the ability to paint, sing, or dance? Or is it simply the willingness to try something you might not normally attempt?

Pablo Picasso was right when he said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once s/he grows up.” We are all born to create. You’ve probably witnessed this in your kids.

Children aren’t afraid to sing at the top of their lungs, dance around the living room, or make pictures with crayons. Yet, somewhere along the line, as we get older, we stop doing those things that filled us with such joy as youngsters and we start saying things like, “I’m not creative.”


The answer is simple: It’s because we’re afraid of doing it wrong.

6 Creative Art Ideas for Kids Rooms

I once had a drawing instructor who performed a little experiment on her class. She challenged us to make marks on paper. The kicker was, we were to make these marks without using any art supplies.There were about twenty of us in the group and we all sat there – frozen - wondering how in the world we were supposed to draw something without picking up a pen or pencil.

We had no idea what she wanted us to do. And so, for fear of making a mistake, we did nothing.

Nothing at all.

Time dragged on until suddenly, one student stood up. He laid his paper on the ground and sprinkled some water from his water bottle on it. Then, after scuffing his shoes around on the cement floor, he proceeded to make marks on his paper with his feet. My teacher shouted, “Bravo!” while the rest of us looked on in disbelief.

The point had been made.

DIY Art Projects for Kids

Being creative isn’t about drawing or painting a perfect picture or hitting just the right notes in a song. It’s about thinking outside the box and coming up with interesting ways to solve problems. It’s about not being afraid to use a part of your brain that you’ve been neglecting. These days there’s a lot of talk about fostering imagination and curiosity in our children. Case in point: Forbes just published an article titled, “How Kids Lose Their Creativity As They Age (And How To Prevent It).” We all want the best for our kids but in reality, when it comes to nurturing their natural inventiveness, many of us feel ill equipped.

We know that to “raise a reader” we need to read to our kids and let our kids see us reading. So, we can use that same logic to raise creative kids. 

With my blog, I’m going to introduce you to fun, imaginative activities you can try on your own and with your children.

So please, join me.

I promise it will be fun, and the best part is – there are no wrong answers.

This is the first post for The Art of Childhood. Join Andrea here on an on-going basis as she makes getting dirty fun again - for us and our kids.

This is Natalie's first post for Join her at Putting it Out There often, won't you?  - See more at: