As I have been reading more blogs from around the world about home educating, learning through play, and early education, the same phrase keeps cropping up – an ‘invitation to play’. Despite being a Foundation Stage Teacher (age 3-5) this was new to me, but sounded very interesting! I think it is an American phrase that has been picked up and is being used more widely. What I understand it to mean, is an activity that is inviting, if not irresistible for children! Something self-explanatory, but open ended that could be completely independent child-led discovery, or guided by an adult to extend their play and understanding.
Here are some gorgeous ideas that have inspired me.
Pyjama School (The first English blog that I read the phrase on!)
In school we might have called these ‘targeted activities’ – something that the adults plan for and set up having watched where the children’s interests lie, and assessed what skills they need to develop. I think the difference with an invitation to play is that it is much more open-ended. There is no expected outcome such as ‘come over here and paint a picture of a flower’. An invitation could be ‘an invitation to explore the paint’ with a variety of brushes, papers and paint.
So far, I have made a few attempts at invitations but it is definitely something I want to do more of at home. There are some fantastic examples out there on the Internet that are inspiring me. So far I have managed an invitation to make a milkshake (although this was quite adult led due to the safety risks!), invitation to make a crown, and I think the water balloons were probably an invitation of sorts?!
Over the next few weeks I will be trying to set up some more open-ended invitations for Annabelle to explore, play and discover rather than just ‘make’. Weather permitting we can hopefully get some more water and sand play in there too!