This past week’s classes we were discussing the importance of play and exploration. A conversation came up regarding a type of play called invitations to play, or invitations for learning, or play exploration. I thought that this would be a good topic for this week’s blog.
What is an Invitation to Play?
This is an intentional and planned collection of materials that a parent/caregiver prepares and sets up with which a child plays and explores. Invitation to play is an open invitation for a child to use as they desire. This can be a sensory basket, organized colour bins, paint daps, and much more.
How Children Learn?
Children are sensory learners. This means that children learn though: tasting, touching/feeling, seeing, hearing and smelling. Parents can encourage child’s learning by setting up an invitation to play, watch their child explore and then begin to talk and sign with their child.
How can you use American Sign Language signs during play?
There are three main ways to learn: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Using sign language with your child allows for all three types of learning. Your child is learning though their visual (sight) by seeing the sign. Auditory learnings see their parents use the American Sign Language signs while saying the English word. Kinesthetic learners move their hands to communicate before they are able to express themselves through language.
If you provide your child with an egg carton filled with 6 different coloured plastic eggs. You many watch your child explore “opening” and “shutting” the container, they may take the eggs “in” and “out”. A child’s learning is supported by their parents/caregivers. When you see a child begin to explore, act like a broadcaster saying what the child is doing while signing key words. For example “Elijah, you took the yellow egg out of the container and put in the blue egg”. (ASL signs that maybe used are in bold).
Another idea is a winter sensory basket. This can filled with “white” cotton balls, “blue” pom poms, snowflakes, snowmen. As a parent, you can have an idea of how your child will play with these times. You may want to have them practice fine motor skills and provide a shovel and pot or have them feel the different textures of the pom poms, cotton balls and the hard plastic snowflakes. An example of signing and talking: “Those soft balls are blue, the white balls feel like fluff. Can you put the ball in the pail? Oh, you took the ball out!
What to Remember About Invitations to Play?
All types of sensory play, invitations to play and play exploration is well supervised time. There can be many choking hazards in this type of play. This does not mean it is not safe, it means that parents have to be engaging in play with the child to ensure safety.
Examples of Invitations to Play!
Sorting play. This invitation to play can be used as colour sorting or item sorting based on child’s need to explore and discover.
Colour and shape recognition invitation to play.
Sensory bin focused on fine motor skills
This invitation to play was set up to show the difference between soft and hard toys. As everyone can see, climbing on the basket was much more fun.
Playing with hand crafted stones- focused on shape sorting from http://www.artinstones.com/
Pattern play with natural rocks from http://www.artinstones.com/
Please let me know your comments and thoughts on invitations to play and signing.
Tanya Myrfield-Wolfe- BSW, RSW, Certified Baby Sign Language Instructor, & Parent Educator
My Smart Hands Saskatoon