The following post is from Erin of The Usual Mayhem:
Invitations to play are a great way to engage your child and captivate their interest! Here’s what you need to know:
An invitation to play is like curating content for a museum. You are taking specific items, putting them together in a way that is appealing, and then leaving the collection out for others to discover. This can be any collection that you want, but the way it’s played with will be your child’s call.
Unlike strewing, this is for pleasure and the joy of imagination-building play. With all the electronic distractions available, you’re doing your child a world of good by encouraging them to find other things to do. Issue these invitations sporadically so that they don’t become dependent on you for their entertainment.
Let me give you some examples:
Offer a play space. Pitch a tent in your living room. Leave a large pile of pillows and some sheets and blankets in an open space. Nail a pallet into a low tree branch. Empty a closet to create a hideout. Then let them take the reins.
What about a specific sensory activity? (If you need examples, check out my Sensory board on Pinterest). Something that they can scoop, pour, smell, fill containers with with keep most children busy for ages. Obviously, you’ll make sure that it doesn’t contain anything that can choke or blind them, and you may want to place a dollar store vinyl tablecloth underneath it for easier cleanup afterwards.
Play dough can be made in so many colors and scents that you can have endless variations on it. Use gel food coloring for really vivid colors and change the accessories. Flowers that can be pressed into it, cookie cutters, a meat tenderizer, bubble wrap, even plastic building bricks or little animal figurines could add variety. In the fall, some red cinnamon-scented homemade play dough, a rolling pin, and foil pie plates could be left out on the table.
A book about paper airplanes and a pile of sturdy paper could entertain for hours. Just duck when you enter the room!
If you don’t mind mopping up afterwards, water is almost always a hit. A large plastic tub of water and whatever toys (rubber ducks? Shells? Toy boats? Things that float and things that don’t?) will keep kids happy and engaged. Let them play in a swimsuit and for some reason it’s even more fun! Obviously you will never leave a child unattended with this activity.
Magnets. Put out a cookie sheet or other magnetic board and leave out a bowl of magnetic objects. Make sure you don’t do this near any computers! If you don’t have any magnets that will appeal, you can always print off pictures from the internet and stick magnets on them. How about (I really did this once) Bear Grylls from Man Vs Wild, and a bunch of different terrains with magnets stuck to the back?
Felt boards. I’ve had mixed success with this one,but they’re worth trying. If your child has sensory issues, they may dislike the texture. Felt boards with the story you just read can get them narrating without even realizing, or developing new plot variations.
What invitations to play have you used successfully? Share in the comments!
|Erin writes at her blog The Usual Mayhem and at various other sites, about her kids, life, homeschool, and all the chaos that the combination entails. She mainlines caffeine, hikes daily, and has more sewing and quilting projects on the go at any given time than she could finish before retirement age. If she isn’t wrangling kids, dogs, or old Singer machines, you can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Google +, or Twitter.|
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