Welcome to a new series!
I am so excited to be joining forces with an amazing group of bloggers to bring you what I hope will be a useful resource to you this fall. Over the course of the week each of us will be sharing five fall-themed invitations to play. There will be something for everyone: outdoor play, open-ended art projects, sensory activities, ideas for occupying and engaging toddlers, fine motor practice, etc. etc.
I first heard the term “invitation to play” from Anna at The Imagination Tree. If you haven’t yet read her post on Creating Invitations to Play, I’d highly recommend that you do. I have a huge amount of respect for her as a blogger and educator. Her post and the suggestions she makes are honest and realistic with the ultimate goal of encouraging creativity and imagination in young children.
Another blogger I admire, Deborah from Teach Preschool, has an excellent and thoughtful post titled An Invitation to Play Tutorial. Again, it’s a must-read for anyone interested in creating invitations to play at home or school.
I’m starting my week of play invitations with this deliciously scented Cinnamon Maple Salt Tray.
I used good old table salt, to which I added maple extract and a sprinkling of cinnamon. I left it overnight to dry, although it probably doesn’t require nearly that much drying time. The result is salt that looks a lot like brown sugar and smells like pancakes. Yum!
I paired this salt tray with acrylic and fabric maple leaves from the dollar store. You could certainly use real leaves but I chose fake ones since I plan on re-using the salt and don’t want to be picking tiny bits of crushed leaf out of it. I also added a paint brush and wooden utensils from my son’s play kitchen.
I presented this activity to my son (age 3) after an active day spent exploring wooded trails at one of our favorite parks. Since he was pretty tired out, this salt tray was a simple and relaxing way to transition from a busy day to supper time.
He enjoyed pushing the salt around the tray and scooping it into the shallow wooden bowls I’d provided. He took the leaves out and added wooden blocks. The key point that I try to keep in mind when setting up an invitation to play is that it is an invitation. My role is to set up an appealing group of materials and then step back. I invite my son to play but it is up to him as to what he wants to do with the materials and whether he wants to use all or just some of them. Occasionally I offer suggestions and/or help but overall I leave it open-ended. You can read more of my thoughts on open-ended play in this post: Invitation to Build with Cardboard and Tape.
Now that you’ve read my post, please pop over to visit the other blogs participating in this series. I’m proud to call these smart and talented ladies my friends. I am always inspired by their blogs and I know I’ll be using many of their play invitations for my son and daycare kids this fall.
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!
Pom Pom Apple Picking by Twodaloo
If this is your first visit to My Nearest and Dearest I’d love to have you follow along by subscribing by email (simply enter your email address in the box at the top right corner of our home page). You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ where we regularly share ideas for play based learning, connecting with your family, and good old-fashioned fun.
Thanks for reading!