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An Invitation to Play and Relax after School

An Invitation to Play and Relax after School

An invitation to play is a purposefully designed setup or arrangement of materials that invites a child to engage in open-ended play. It is typically created by an adult or caregiver to spark the child's imagination and encourage exploration, creativity, and problem-solving. They are perfect for the first days of school to have something planned, simple and calm to open up conversations, self-regulate and express emotions through play. It is a way to provide a stimulating and structured environment for play while allowing the child to take the lead and explore their interests.

Invitations to play offer several benefits for children's development and learning. Here are a few key advantages:

1. Stimulates creativity and imagination

Invitations to play provide open-ended materials and scenarios that encourage children to use their imagination, think creatively, and engage in pretend play. This helps develop their cognitive and imaginative skills.

2. Enhances problem-solving abilities

Through invitations to play, children are presented with challenges and opportunities to problem-solve. They learn to think critically, make decisions, and find solutions, which contributes to their cognitive development.

3. Promotes fine and gross motor skills

Many invitations to play involve manipulating objects, building structures, or engaging in physical activities. These experiences help develop children's fine motor skills (such as hand-eye coordination) and gross motor skills (such as balance and coordination).

4. Encourages social interaction

Invitations to play can be designed for individual play or shared play experiences. When children engage in play together, they learn social skills such as sharing, turn-taking, collaboration, and communication.

5. Fosters language development

During play, children have opportunities to express themselves, describe their actions, and engage in conversations. Invitations to play can facilitate language development by providing prompts and encouraging verbal communication.

6. Supports emotional development

Play allows children to explore and express their emotions in a safe and constructive manner. Invitations to play can include materials and themes that promote emotional exploration, empathy, and understanding of different perspectives.

Overall, invitations to play provide a rich and engaging environment that supports various aspects of children's holistic development, including cognitive, physical, social, emotional, and language skills.

Types & Examples of Invitations to Play

1. Sensory Play Invitation

- Fill a shallow tray with coloured rice, beans, or sand and provide scoops, cups, and small toys for sensory exploration.

- Set up a water play station with containers of different sizes, funnels, and sponges for pouring, splashing, and sensory water play.

Sensory Invitation

2. Construction Invitation

- Create a building block station with various types of blocks, connectors, and accessories for children to build structures and explore engineering concepts.

- Set up a playdough station with different colours of playdough, rolling pins, cookie cutters, and loose parts for sculpting and imaginative play.

Construction Invitation

3. Nature Exploration Invitation

Arrange a nature table with leaves, stones, shells, pine cones, and magnifying glasses for children to examine and explore natural objects.

Create a nature art invitation by providing paper, glue, and an assortment of natural materials like flowers, twigs, and seeds for children to create collages or mandalas.

Nature Invitation

4. Pretend Play Invitation

- Set up a dress-up corner with costumes, hats, and props, allowing children to engage in imaginative role-play and storytelling.

- Create a kitchen or market stand by arranging play food, utensils, and cash register, encouraging pretend cooking and shopping scenarios.

Pretend Invitation

5. Science Experiment Invitation

- Provide a science lab setup with test tubes, magnifying glasses, baking soda, vinegar, and other safe materials for simple experiments like fizzing reactions or color mixing.

- Set up a magnetic exploration station with various magnets, magnetic objects, and magnetic wands for children to investigate the properties of magnetism.

Science Invitation


Remember, the key is to provide simple materials and an inviting setup that sparks children's curiosity and encourages open-ended play. Feel free to adapt these ideas based on your child's interests and age appropriateness.

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