An invitation to play tutorial

Ways to make engaging invitations to explore in your classroom!

I have been seeing a lot of “Invitations to Play” across the web and on Facebook.  The photos being shared are beautiful and inspiring to look through but there are many things to consider when creating an invitation to play…

Defining the Invitation to Play

Simply stated, an invitation to play is arranging the environment so that it “invites” young children to come to an area in your classroom to explore, investigate, question, examine, participate, touch, feel, and manipulate through as much independent play as the materials can possibly allow.

An invitation to play should…

  • Capture a child’s curiosity
  • Be intentional in design and purpose
  • Be appropriate for the age of children you teach
  • Include materials that the children can freely touch, manipulate, and explore

Questions to Answer When Designing an Invitation to Play

The invitation to play is not just setting up a pretty table but it is instead intentional in design to foster learning and to keep the child engaged the learning process.  I am an avid believer in creating an invitation to play whenever and where ever I can in my classroom. As I am preparing my invitations to play, I try to visualize how the children might use the materials and at the same time leave room for exploration that may not be what I expected.

It is a good idea to consider some of the following questions when setting up an invitation to play…

  • Are there plenty of materials available for the children to equally and fully participate?
  • Can the children freely explore the materials?
  • Is the area well organized and can it be easily managed by the children and the teacher as needed?
  • What do I think the children will do with the materials?
  • What do I hope the children will do with the materials?
  • What kind of developmental growth or learning am I trying to promote or do I visualize taking place in this area through play?

Tips for Creating an Invitation to Play

I have compiled a few photos from my own classroom that I consider to be an invitation to play. Each of these invitations to play lead to different kinds of experiences but I hope they will inspire your own ideas as you take a look…

Make it Appealing

Make it Engaging

Make it Challenging

Make it Hands-on

Make it Curious

Make it Colorful

Make it Surprising

Make it Tempting

Make it Obvious

Make it Creative

Make it Real

Make it Fun

Make it Ready

Make it Interesting

Make it Open Ended

Some of my invitations go beyond just the area of play and include an invitation to create, cook, write, and draw. Ultimately, I want to send my preschoolers an invitation to participate in all areas of my classroom and in all types of play and learning experiences.

Links to Grow On

You can view more invitations to play on Pinterest by clicking here!

Creating Invitations to Play from The Imagination Tree

Elements for Creating Play Scenes and Invitations to Play from Childhood 101

An Invitation to Play (Play Dough) from Learn with Play@home

Deborah J Stewart

Deborah J Stewart

Every time I think I know everything I need to know about teaching young children, God says, "Hold on a minute!" and gives me a new challenge.

Let me tell ya...

With each new challenge that you overcome, you will find yourself better equipped and more passionate about teaching young children.

God didn't call wimps to lead, teach, or care for His children. Nope, he has high expectations, so get ready. You will have to give your very best but after teaching for over 30 years, I can tell you that it is a wonderful and rewarding journey.

Whenever your calling feels hard, just remember, 'He who began a good work in you (and in the children you serve) will be faithful to complete it.'

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