Wednesday, February 5, 2014

An Invitation To Play with Infants

Keep in mind that an invitation to play is pretty open-ended. Your child should be free to play with the materials set out as he/she wants.

Invitation to Play: Winter

In my classroom this month we have been experimenting with various Invitations To Play. A couple of weeks ago, I set up an invitation to play: winter with my kids and decided to give it a try with the infants in my class! We put the contact paper on the door and set out a small basket with cotton balls, laminated snowman parts and foam snowflakes. The children were immediately drawn to the cotton balls, and where some of our kids usually put everything in their mouths, the clothespins I attached to the cotton balls seemed to help keep the mouthing to a minimum. We have provided a bunch of contact paper activities prior to this invitation, so they were all familiar with what it was, however, it is usually on the ground so hanging it vertically was something new. This is what happened…
The fuzzy carpet was set out to keep it
cozy (and our floor is quite cold)
cotton balls, laminated (with contact paper)
snowman parts and foam snowflakes.

Some kids tried removing the snowman parts, which provided
some fine motor practice. 

Our friends dabbed the cotton balls on the
contact paper making a neat sound.  
Invitation to Play: Colored Spaghetti

  This invitation requires a bit of preparation.

What to Do

  1. Cook the spaghetti, drain and rinse. 
  2. Put some of the cooked noodles in glass bowls and add food coloring. I used the gel kind.
  3. Mix it around and let it sit for a minute or two then rinse in a strainer. 
  4. I then put the noodles in a Zip Lock baggie in the fridge until I took them to school the next day. 
We put the colored spaghetti in the baby pool and let the kids crawl in (or in the case of the non crawlers, put them in). 

Invitation to Play: Balls

This one is exactly what it looks like. We put balls in a big basket and the kids crawled in the basket with the balls, threw the balls, and transported the balls. We have also done this one with the balls in the baby pool and I have seen others put them in a pack and play! The possibilities with this one are endless. You can purchase these balls here

Invitation to Play: Paint on Mirrors

What to Do

  1. Set out a mirror for the child to explore.
  2. Put a drop or line of paint on each mirror.

Each of our friends started out with just
a finger in the paint.

Then they began using their hands.

And some of our most art-loving friends really
got creative!! This one eventually pushed
the mirror away and started painting on the table :)
 Invitation to Play: Paper

We recently attended a professional development conference on how environment impacts learning and as teachers we were given an invitation to play with paper. Our table eventually ended up wrapping all of our paper up in a "package" and I took it downstairs to the Infant Toddler area for our friends to enjoy! You don't have to provide this much paper, but the idea was to have an abundance!
That's the beans under the water fall of paper

Invitation to Play: Painting a Mural

This started out as a blank piece of white paper with lines of paint. The kids entered the room and started moving the paint around by walking, crawling and finger painting! This one was really cool to watch!

Remember that an invitation to play is an open ended activity and that there is no right or wrong way to do it. As with every activity we do at home and at school, my kids are taught how to use the materials properly so that the play is meaningful and fun for everyone :)

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