Sunday 20 May 2012

Invitations to Learn

(Goblin is 31 months)
Every so often I have a minor freak out that I am not teaching Goblin enough. This week was one of those weeks. Goblin has lots of 'educational' toys on his shelves and I rotate them to try and keep them fresh. But for a couple of months now he has been pretty much ignoring the shelves, opting instead for sensory play with rainbow rice or his trucks. Goblin is still young and I have no desire to push him down an academic route so its only my own insecurities that lead me to have my minor pancis. But all the same I was looking for something that might lead him back to the more stretching toys. 
And then I read about "Invitations to Play" at The Imagination Tree. Its such a simple idea. You take a toy and you set it out in a new way so that the child discovers it as if it were new. 
I tried it with Goblin's snail shells and paint pallet. This game improves pincer grip (essential for hand writing) and encourages one to one correspondence which is a maths skill. He hasn't touched it in months. I laid it out on his table on its own. When he came down from his nap he saw it and started playing with it straight away.
I was so impressed with how this worked, the next day I tried it with his shape puzzle. This time I had barely finished putting the shapes out when Goblin came along and started sorting them and doing the puzzle. He did it over and over again. I was amazed. This puzzle has pretty much never been played with before, no mater how many times I put it on the shelves or get it down and suggest we try it together. 
So "Invitations to play", or should I call them "Invitations to learn" will definitely be a regular feature in our house. Thank you The Imagination Tree 

I will be sharing this on 
I Can Teach My ChildTot SchoolMontessori MondayTeach Me Tuesday at Preschool Powol Packetsabc button


  1. I do this on a regular basis, and it's amazing to see how suddenly both of my older boys can't get enough of a toy that they've ignored for the past six months. ;)

  2. We just brought out almost the same puzzle (mine is a rectangle base not a square) and my tot is in love. He has been sorting the pieces by size and shape!

  3. The sensory bins always win over the trays, here.

  4. I am so glad the imagination tree started to do that series as i have done these little invitations to play for years and worried that i was organising the play a little too much...but it really works and gives them something to dive into straight away...they can still play with things in the way they want to...just offers some incentive to play and learn i guess!
    Am loving your snail shells and paint pallet idea too!

  5. I'm the same as Jode, I've been doing this for a while, but worry every now and again that it was too structured for my daughter. But she doesn't complain! She loves it! It seems to really help her to focus on one thing at a time and get the most out of her playthings. Thank you for sharing! :D

  6. Lovely post! We do heaps of invitations to learn and explore as well. They are probably our favourite and most successful activities. And like you just showed, just by setting them out and having them waiting can make them play with things they always bypassed in the past. Thanks for sharing :)

  7. Jode and Lauzi, I am really interesting that you both worry about it being too structured. One of the things that appeals to me about it is that it is only an invitation rather than a direction. The other toys he usually plays with are still available so the choice is entirely his, even if the presence of this toy is maybe hinting in one direction.

  8. Great post! It isn't unusual for Montessori schools to have an activity set up at a table, often on a placemat. It definitely helps to direct children toward specific materials at times. I love it as another way prepare the environment! Thanks for linking up with Montessori Monday. I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page:

  9. This is a great idea! I love how it changes his environment just enough that it makes him curious again! I'm going to pin it--thanks for sharing it at Teach Me Tuesday!!


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