An Invitation to Play

inviteChildren learn through:

  • being introduced to new ideas and activities (novelty)
  • having the chance to experiment, explore, test & re-test (repetition to achieve mastery)

In play-based learning, a parent or teacher’s role can be to set the stage with new materials, or with familiar materials combined in new ways. Then it’s the child’s role to play: experiment, explore, test and re-test.

“Invitations to play” is one way of approaching these tasks.

Read more about invitations to play

Today, I set up an invitation to play for my 3 year old.(I knew I had a busy day with lots of work to do, so wanted something ready to go that would keep him busy for a while.)

Yesterday, we did “science experiments” with a new set of tools: pipettes and water mixed with liquid watercolors. We would give him two containers of colored water, with pipettes, and a glass vase to mix the colors in.

,Today I set out two colors of water, pipettes, and a glass bowl to mix them in, instead of the vase. I had his container of water beads nearby. When he came into the room, he immediately settled into playing with the pipettes and water, which occupied him for quite a while. When his interest started to wane, I pulled over the water beads and tongs. I didn’t even need to say anything. He immediately started adding water beads. After he’d added them all and taken them all back out, he said “I’ll never do that again.” Apparently he prefers his water beads as a separate activity.

When he ran out of yellow water in his container, I said “Well, you put lots of yellow water in the bowl. Let’s just take some yellow back out of the bowl.” When the pipette pulled up green water from the bowl, I said “Hey! Where’s my yellow water!” That then led to a long play time of trying to pull up blue water or yellow water, and him learning that once things are mixed, they often can’t be unmixed.

This activity gave him chances to further explore materials he’s learned about recently, and combine them in new ways, thus deepening his knowledge of all the materials, and gaining a new insight about color mixing. And, it gave me a chance to get some work done…. Wins all around.


12 thoughts on “An Invitation to Play

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