I’m so very excited to welcome you to a week long series hosted by 5 bloggers~ Fall Invitations to Play! Over the next five days we will be sharing various fall themed invitations to play or create. Be sure to check out all the invitations shared each day and find some fall inspiration from these other sites as well:
Cinnamon Maple Salt Tray by My Nearest and Dearest
Fall Felt Trees & Leaves by Buggy and Buddy
Simple Apple Sensory Bin by Fantastic Fun and Learning
Play Dough Pumpkin Patch Train Play by Play Trains!
Pom Pom Apple Picking by Twodaloo
What Are Invitations to Play?
Have you heard of invitations to create and play? Basically they are ways to ‘invite’ your child to make something or play in a very open-ended way. You set up play materials for your child and allow them to play with them however they choose. It’s as simple as that!
The best part is you can set these invitations up with materials you already have at home. There’s no need to go out and buy all new things. For instance, you might place some play dough out on the table with some cookie cutters, sequins, and sticks. Or maybe there’s an old set of toy cars your child hasn’t played with in quite a while. You might set them out with some blocks to encourage creative play.
I would highly encourage you to read more from these experts on creating invitations for children. I found their articles very inspiring and full of great information on what to consider when creating invitations and the many benefits for your child.
Creating Invitations to Play from The Imagination Tree
An Invitation to Play Tutorial from Teach Preschool
Setting Up a Reggio-Inspired Activity from An Everyday Story
More about Invitations to Play
I love that the invitations are so open-ended and can work for various ages. I have a 2 year old and 5 year old, and both kids easily enjoy the same invitations in their own creative way. I often set up these invitations for the kids to do when Lucy gets home after school. It’s a great way for the kids to be together, but also allows them the freedom to create independently or play jointly if they choose. I find setting up invitations helps the kids to wind down and have some peaceful time after a busy day at school.
I try to observe what my children are currently interested in throughout the day and set up hands-on invitations that builds on their curiosity. For example, I’ve been noticing Theo is very interested in stringing beads and lacing toys so I created a very simple fall themed stringing and lacing invitation you’ll see later this week.
Invitation to Play: Felt Tree and Leaves
Lucy has been SO anxious to get our our fall themed children’s books. One of her favorites (and mine actually) is The Little Yellow Leaf. Such a cute story about friendship! The story inspired me to set up this invitation to play from felt. This invitation promotes creative play, language development, and fine motor skills.
- Felt Board
- Felt trees and leaves (made with felt sheets and scissors)
- Small container to hold leaves
- Small figurines
- Small rake (made from sticks and straws)
The felt pieces were really easy to make. There’s no need to trace or make things perfect. I just sat and cut out the trees and leaves from felt while the kids were playing.
I used brown felt to make two trees, and I used some fall colored felt to create lots of tiny leaves. I set the trees up on the felt board and placed a few leaves on them. I also scattered some leaves below the board to invite the kids to also bring their play off the felt board. The rest of the leaves were placed in a wooden bowl nearby.
I used some sticks and straws to create a little rake and broom. To make the rake, I cut off 2 pieces on a plastic straw (about 1.5 inches long). I taped the straw segments to a stick and then cut slits into the bottom of the straw segments. To make the broom, I collected some dried pine needles and taped them to a stick. Super easy! Next to the broom and rake I placed a couple animal figurines.
How My Kids Played
Theo, my 2 year old, mostly seemed to enjoy interacting with the felt leaves. He would knock all the leaves off the trees and then put them back on again. Lucy, my 5 year old, turned the invitation into a creative play scene. The rabbit and deer would rake the leaves and have discussions as they were tidying up their area. The next day I found Lucy using the same felt set to talk about some of our fall stories.
If you are worried about chocking hazards, be sure to cut the felt leaves into large enough pieces for your child.
Modify this activity in any way you’d like! Maybe your child has been interested in apple trees lately so you may want to add some apples to your tree. You could put some little baskets below to collect the apples. Build on your child’s interests.
Use things you already have. We happened to have some wooden animals, but use whatever toy figures you have at home. There’s no need to go buy anything new.
Have fun playing and creating!