Hello, lovelies! This week I am so excited to be participating in a collaboration with four other amazing kid bloggers to bring you 25 Fall Invitations to Play! Every day for the next five days, each of us will be posting a fall-themed play prompt (most are designed for toddlers and preschoolers but could be adapted for different ages and skill levels) and linking to each other, so it will be easy for you to jump from blog to blog and view all the Falltastic fun. There will be something for everyone, whether it be apples or pumpkins, sensory play or fine motor, pretend play or even trains…we’ve got you covered! My partners in this series include Shaunna from Fantastic Fun and Learning, Chelsey from Buggy and Buddy, Jessica from Play Trains!, and Ann from My Nearest and Dearest.
What is an Invitation to Play?
Simply put, an invitation to play is a thoughtfully arranged collection of materials designed to stimulate playing, creating, and/or exploring a concept with the child or children that discover it. It doesn’t have to be elaborate; even gathering toys and objects from around the home and presenting them in a new location or surprising combination constitutes an invitation if it stimulates curiosity and imagination. The term “invitation to play” has been around a long time and is based on the concept of a Reggio provocation (read about provocations HERE or learn more about the Reggio Emilia Approach to early learning HERE). However, it was only recently popularized in the kid blogging circles by the amazing Anna from The Imagination Tree- she wrote a wonderful post on creating invitations to play HERE which includes a great description of the philosophy behind them, lots of ideas for invitations you can put together at home, and a very comprehensive list of suggested materials and how she stores them. If you are a classroom teacher, Deborah from Teach Preschool has also written a tutorial on setting up invitations to play in the preschool classroom (find it HERE), and her strategies and information can easily be adapted to the home setting as well.
Today’s Invitation: Pom Pom Apple Tree
Today’s invitation was designed to compliment the apples theme that I will be exploring with my twins (age 2.5) this week at home. During last week’s library visit, they stumbled upon a display of books about apples and were excited to take a few of them home, which sparked an interest that we will be expanding on through play and hands-on activities with real apples.
The “ingredients” of this invitation are simple; a set of pom pom apple ornaments in three different colors (follow the tutorial included in this post for pom poms and add a leather loop for a stem and felt leaf with hot glue), a seasonal tree (my family used this as a tabletop Easter tree when I was a child, now we regularly string beads on its branches for fun), an egg carton, and two wire baskets that I typically use for craft storage. I grouped the items together for the twins to find, placing most of the apples in the egg carton with the exception of two that I hung on the tree as a suggestion for the kids.
Ways Children Might Use the Materials
- Hang the apples on the tree
- “Pick” the apples and gather them in their wire baskets
- Place the apples in the egg carton, possibly sorting by color or making patterns
- Count the apples
- Pretend to eat/cook with the apples
- Play catch or other active games with the apples
True to the nature of an open-ended play invitation, although the items are arranged in a way that suggests a possible activity (two of the apples hung on the tree), the children will be allowed to play with the items in whatever way they choose. Depending on how the children interact with the materials, this prompt encourages imaginative play, fine/gross motor skill development, eye-hand coordination, one-to-one correspondence and other early math skills, language development, and sensory exploration.
I hope you enjoyed today’s invitation to play, and please check back tomorrow for another fun idea. If this is your first time visiting, you might enjoy the other posts in this series:
Now, don’t forget to stop by the other participating blogs to check out their wonderful invitations, too!
Cinnamon Maple Salt Tray by My Nearest and Dearest
Fall Felt Trees & Leaves by Buggy and Buddy
Simple Apple Sensory Bin by Fantastic Fun and Learning
Play Dough Pumpkin Patch Train Play by Play Trains!