Invitations to play

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.

Play at home Mom

The imagination tree

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!


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