As an early childhood teacher and a mum I love creating invitations to play for young children.
'Invitations to play' are playspaces set up to encourage engagement in a variety of developmental areas and for a range of interests.
Setting up playspaces for your kids keeps them engaged in meaningful exploratory play and allows them to develop an ability to play independently (giving you a chance to get all those things done!).
Invitations to play should invite the child to interact, engage, think, experiment and create.
don't always need to go to a lot of effort to create engaging
invitations to play. Sometimes a simple box of Autumn leaves is an
entire experience in itself.
I have pieced together this page with some of my favourites from over the years. Please feel free to use these ideas as you wish and adapt them to suit the young ones that you're working with.
Creating an Invitation to Play: As Simple as Making Stone Soup
For the vegetables -
I'm a no fuss craftitian. This means that I rarely use patterns or pins. To make these vegies I simply folded a piece of felt and cut the shape of the vegetable freehand - no I didn't even draw it first. Trust me, the kids will love it even if it isn't perfect.
With the thread doubled over I simply blanket stitched around the edges. That's right, I didn't match the colour of the thread with the colour of the vegies - I'm that much of a rebel! Actually I think they look pretty cute that way, don't you?
To finish them off I added some little green offcuts as the leafy bits on top of the carrots and tomatoes.
For the senses -
I found an old toblerone choccy box kicking around which had four sections. Perfect! But you could just as easily use plastic container with dividers or a set of small bowls - even a muffin tray!
I added barley, green lentils, flaxseed & rice. I chose things according to colour and texture. I considered making rainbow rice (www.growingajeweledrose.com) but in the end decided to go with the natural look.
For a bit of added sensory experience I raided my spice cupboard for any spices with whole pieces - cinnamon stick, cardamon pods, peppercorns, pieces of dried ginger, star anise & bay leaves. Even though these would not necessarily be added to such a soup in reality, I decided they would give Critter a nice aromatic experience as she stirred the pot.
Also a mirror placed at the back meant that Critter would be able to watch herself making and doing or observe others without the need to move.
The Fire -
I grabbed a few sticks and twigs from a vase in Critter's room, leftover from a previous playspace and arranged them in a triangular shape to allow the pot to sit nicely on top. I used a length of a red crepe paper streamer to give the impression of flames then put a pot on top.
(*The boxes of wine in the background are for our invitation to play for grown ups.)