An invitation to play all through out the learning environment

In my previous post, I shared with you a short tutorial on creating an invitation to play. Today I want to share with you how an invitation to play can be set up throughout the classroom environment.

An invitation to play at the art table

By taking the time to make each area of your classroom inviting, the children will be more interested in participating in each area of your classroom. When providing a planned art activity, I do my very best to make sure the art table has the materials set out in such a way that the process is not only inviting but is also self-explanatory and as open ended as possible…

An invitation to play at the play dough table

I want to make sure there are plenty of materials available for each experience I am inviting the children to explore…


An invitation to play at the easel

Even the easel can be set up with different materials and brushes and paper to keep it creative and inviting for young children to come back and explore many times over…

An invitation to play at the writing center

There are so many ways to bring a writing center to life. Of course, having materials on hand for the children to freely choose from is important as well as creating more intentionally designed invitations to play at the writing center. I want to be sure I am providing a variety of writing tools for each invitation to write at the writing center…

An invitation to play at the water table

I am always changing what the children will find when they come to the water table. Rotating materials in the water table keeps it interesting and allows the children to explore the water table in new ways…

An invitation to participate at the cooking table

This is more of an invitation to participate than to play in that the children will be cooking along with the support of the teacher. By setting out the materials, the children will be eager to know what we are cooking and eager to participate…

An invitation to play at the light table

The light table provides many opportunities for independent play and can be set up to promote all kinds of learning and exploration.

An invitation to play at the magnet center

I have many different tools for magnet play that I set out throughout the classroom environment. The magnet center invites discovery and opportunity for independent or group play…

An invitation to play at the science table

The science table can be one of the most intriguing areas in the classroom. It invites trial and error, questions, exploration, and the list goes on. Where possible, I want to leave the science table as open ended as possible…

An invitation to play at the sensory table

For sensory play, I often use small tubs and want to be sure to include a variety of tools for play like tweezers, cups, scoops, and brushes so the children can pour, measure, and manipulate the materials…

An invitation to play at the dramatic play center

A dramatic play center can be simple or elaborate. When I can, I like to provide a backdrop that promotes a different kind of dramatic play experience but I also provide simple materials that invite the children to role play and engage in imaginative play…

An invitation to participate at the snack table

The snack table can also be inviting and can invite children to participate in making their own snacks or participate in simple life skills such as pouring their own juice or setting their own table…

An invitation to play at the fine motor center

The fine motor center invites children to use their hands to complete simple tasks. Through open ended activities the children develop eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills…

An invitation to play at the math table

There are endless ways to make math fun and engaging in the preschool classroom. I usually have a plan in place for how the children will use the materials at a math center but often times, the children will use the materials in ways I hadn’t thought of. I am prepared for this and intentionally leave the math center as open ended as possible for play…

I hope this brief look at how every part of the classroom can be inviting has inspired you today!

By |2012-07-09T17:50:03+00:00July 9th, 2012|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Gina July 9, 2012 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    I love all of these examples showing how you can create an invitation to play in any subject area! I thought your last post explaining how to set them up was brilliant too! Thanks for sharing your ideas! 🙂

  2. School Sparks Renee July 10, 2012 at 12:44 am - Reply

    Deborah, your pictures are great and so helpful for other teachers. Thanks for sharing your wonderful ideas. Renee

  3. Victoria @ Mommy Marginalia July 10, 2012 at 9:04 am - Reply

    This gives me so many wonderful ideas of how I can present activities at home as invitations. Too often, I find myself verbally asking if my son wants to do A, B, or C and *then* bringing out the materials. A little extra time investment the night before or during naptime to set out some possible activities as an invitation would, I think, go a long way! Thank you for all of your wonderful ideas and inspiration!

  4. Isil July 10, 2012 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    This post is a great guide both for parents and teachers.Thanks for sharing.

  5. Gail P August 1, 2012 at 8:50 am - Reply

    I like to find mini book material so I can send home to encourage parents to read to their children. I also liked the beginning writing book as a resource, after teaching for many years, it is easy to get comfortable with past practices and finding new ideas is great.

  6. Lana October 22, 2012 at 12:30 am - Reply

    Thank you very much for such inspiring posts! I had to just mention it in my blog since I was focusing on invitations for engagement.

    Here is the link to the post:

    Again, thank you for sharing so much wonderful ideas!

    warm regards,

  7. Heather Skaien July 23, 2017 at 10:36 am - Reply

    Thanks Deborah!
    I am inspired from your new and exciting ideas that I can include in my classroom.
    This is the time for me to go out, collect and make things for September start!
    thanks again
    Heather from Canada

  8. Maisura August 3, 2017 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    No amount of thanks can be put into words for all the great ideas I will be using with my students. Truly amazing. Sharing is definitely caring indeed.

    Lots of Love,
    Maisura from Singapore

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