Thanks to a friend, I came upon a blog written by a few moms in my area called Play at Home Mom. They believe in the value of creative play in learning and they have some of the BEST ideas ever. One of the things that really interested me was how they set up "invitations". Basically, they set up a new play area, a collection of tools and then let the kids have at it. Sometimes the kids go right for it, sometimes they wait awhile (even days) before they decide they "accept" the invitation to play. I loved the idea of the invitations as a way to give a child some tools and a fresh palette for their imagination. By not scripting their play, the child has the freedom to let their imagination roam wherever it wishes.
This is my first foray into "invitations" and I was very excited about trying it. It was one that the Play at Home Moms had set up as an activity that was appropriate for an infant. This is what the invitation looked like:
The white is vanilla yogurt (Christian puts EVERYTHING in his mouth). Each of the yogurt blobs has different food coloring in it, except one so that we could have white as well.
Christian had a good time playing and exploring although I was sad that it didn't hold his interest longer. Mostly, he wanted to see what sissy was doing on her table. He did have some fun playing (and eating) some of his colors.
This one is Jim's favorite. :)
Ultimately, he had more fun playing with the hose that we ended up leaving running to rinse the dirt off of his yogurt covered hands and legs whenever he wandered over to Katie's table to see what she was doing.
I put Katie's invitation up on a table with a few different tools.
Katie was super excited about her "experiment" as she called it. But, as she got started, I saw how I have failed as a parent. She sat there and said, "What do I do?" I said, "What do you want to do?" "I don't know. What am I supposed to do?" "Anything you want." "But what do I do?"
This conversation went on for a few minutes before she tentatively began mixing and stirring.
Then more of the tools came out...
...and she started to really have fun.
Ultimately, although Christian did not engage with it as much as I had hoped he would, Katie had a blast and she showed me that I definitely need to do more activities like this to give her the opportunity to let her imagination go without the being constrained by rules.