Whew! I cannot believe that it’s already day five of our five-day series: Fall Invitations to Play! If you missed it, this week I teamed with four other talented kid bloggers to bring you 25 fall-themed invitations to play that should provide you with enough inspiration for setting up your own open-ended play prompts to carry you right through the season. I’ve linked my co-hosts’ amazing invitations at the end of this post- be sure to check them all out when you are finished here! If you are just now joining us for the series, you might want to read my first post HERE which includes an introduction to creating invitations to play if you aren’t familiar with them, including links to some great resources on the subject.
Today’s Invitation: Fall Play Dough with Tree Block Stamps
Today’s invitation was an open-ended play session with two types of fall play dough- pumpkin spice play dough from our Fall Forest Invitation, and cranberry play dough made with real cranberries. The cranberry play dough came about because I am currently working on another project using cranberry dye- I had leftover cranberry juice from the process so I substituted it for the liquid in a standard cooked play dough recipe, and got this beautifully colored and scented dough as a result. If you need an exact recipe, HERE is one I found over at Little Wonder’s Days that is similar to the one I used.
In addition to the play dough, I set out a tray with a variety of loose parts including a handful of pasta and dried beans (we’ve been using this same mixture for over a year now), chunky wooden beads from a vintage threading set (another Austin thrifting find), faux acorns from this week’s previous invitations, dry spaghetti, a few “naked” peg people, and a handful of tree blocks.
Perhaps my favorite play dough tool included in this set up was a set of tree block stamps I made simply by sticking foam stickers in autumn shapes on some small tree blocks. The concept of using foam stamps on blocks is not new- I’ve seen it all over Pinterest lately, but I just tweaked the idea a bit for fall and am loving the result! The round, chunky tree blocks are perfect for toddler hands and the stamps can also be used with paint or other craft mediums. Once fall is over, the stamps can be peeled off and replaced with other shapes, or the blocks can be reused for something else.
Ways Children Might Use the Materials
This set of materials is full of a variety of play opportunities. Here are some ways the twins used the materials along with more ideas that occurred to me, although the sky is the limit!
- Use stamps and loose parts to make designs in the play dough
- Stick spaghetti noodles in balls of dough and thread beads onto the noodles
- Use the tree blocks to construct with the play dough
- Use the peg people to tell stories with the play dough and loose part as “props”
True to the nature of an open-ended play invitation, although the items are arranged in a way that suggests a possible activity, 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 motor skill development, language development, beginning math concepts (sorting, patterning, etc.), 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!
Create a Fall Centerpiece by My Nearest and Dearest
Under the Fall Tree Small World by Buggy and Buddy
Fall Sticker Scene by Fantastic Fun and Learning
Outdoor Fall Train Play by Play Trains!
The Homemade Play Dough Recipe Book
If you love play dough as much as we do, I highly recommend that you check out The Homemade Play Dough Recipe Book written by Cathy James of NurtureStore. It is a super creative e-book packed with amazing ideas regarding all things play dough, including:
- all the recipes you need for the activities in the book including non-cook and cooked play dough, gluten-free dough, salt dough, modeling dough, and real bread.
- ideas for 52 weeks of loose parts play, in a printable poster format
- a whole year of play dough activities, arranged seasonally. There’s an idea for every week of the year including sensory and imaginary play, storytelling, art ideas, small worlds, math activities, reading and writing ideas.