Now that I have a big-girl two year old, I have really started to rethink my approach to her toys and her play. Of course I want her to build her imagination, experience new situations, and learn about the world around her through creativity, but I also don’t want to spend my life hot gluing or laminating or cringing as I buy overpriced toy sets. I want a balance, and I totally think it is possible. The concept of Invitation to Play is simple and inexpensive, but best of all it helps kids play on their own and learn in their own way.
What is Invitation to Play?
The concept of inviting children to play is based on using toys and other household items to set up a play space that encourages them to…well, play. It really is that simple. By setting out their toys in a new place or in a new way, they suddenly see their toys differently and want to explore them.
Ok, But Why?
Young children really need self-directed play now more than ever. My two-year-old is already obsessed with my iPhone (and that freaks me out). I know that technology will be an unavoidable part of her life, but she still needs to learn how to play. Like, by herself. You know, how we used to: no gadgets, no screens. Creating invitations to play puts that idea in her head and sparks her creativity. She might not have been thinking about having a tea party, but if I set it up all cute for her to see when she gets home from school, suddenly it looks like a lot of fun.
And…Exactly How Do I Invite my Kids to Play?
This is the best part because it can take as much or as little time as you want. All you do is set up a fun activity for them to find. Sometimes I get fancy, and other times I just use toys that have been out of rotation for a while. Search “invitation to play” on Pinterest and you will find loads of amazing ideas. Basically, think about how you can set the scene for an activity. Set out an empty cardboard box and some crayons, some dinosaurs attacking a block city, or a small tub of water with mermaids, shells, and bubbles. Focus on fine motor development with pom poms, tongs, and an egg carton, or a bowl of uncooked rigatoni pasta and straws stuck straight up in play dough. Think about your kid’s interests and go from there.
My Best Tips:
- Look in your kitchen for items that could double as toys: big mixing bowls, whisks, dried pasta, straws, colanders, slotted spoons, tongs, pots, empty containers with lids (matching lids is always a hit). My daughter always loves to play with things she normally sees us using.
- Don’t freak out if it doesn’t work. Your kid might completely ignore your set up, but it is OK. Just learn from it and move on.
- Let them explore. If they don’t use the set up in the exact way you envisioned, it is fine. Remember your goal is getting them to learn in a way that appeals to them, so as long as they are involved and engaged, it is working.
- It doesn’t have to be perfect. Your child does not scroll through Pinterest, so they will not care if your tea party’s napkins don’t match or your shapes aren’t cut out perfectly. Just focus on the fun.
I would love to see how you are inviting your kids to play! Follow @OrlandoMomsBlog on Instagram and tag us to show us the fun you are creating for your kids!