What Is An Invitation To Play?

Does a child really need an invitation to play? Well, we aren’t sitting down addressing envelopes but a child is still learning how to play. Simplifying their play options can help ease them into a deeper concentration.

This is an example of a small world invitation to play I set up for the kids. More on this can be found here

What is an invitation to play? According to TeachPreschool,

“Simply stated, an invitation to play is arranging the environment so that it ‘invites’ young children to come to an area in your classroom to explore, investigate, question, examine, participate, touch, feel, and manipulate through as much independent play as the materials can possibly allow.”

Teach Preschool

Setting Up An Invitation to Play

When setting up invitations to play, I like to incorporate a variety of textures, colors and concepts. The activity should be engaging but also open-ended; sitting back to observe a child’s play is so beneficial.

I feel observing helps direct me for future invitations to play. We aren’t fully Montessori but I appreciate the principals of it, especially following the child.

Small world play seem to be the most popular in our house lately. My daughter is four and loves grand castles, along with the book series The Princess In Black. While reading The Princess Black and the Mysterious Playdate, Lily suggested we replicate a toy castle the princess made in the book. Here is an instagram post if you’d like to check it out.

Why I Enjoy Invitation to Play Setups

The excitement on my children’s face when they walk into the playroom and see their invitation is so satisfying. There is a rush for my daughter because of the surprise element, there is a feeling of being loved, knowing that I took the time to prepare something special for her, and there is excitement in having something new to engage in that day.

What Is An Invitation To Play

Invitations to play can be sensory, imaginative, educational or countless other things. I believe the key is to be flexible. Setting up an invitation does not mean that your child will be thrilled by it nor does it mean they will do just as you think. Sit back and see what story they will tell or what concepts they will work on. Imaginative play is such a great form of self expression for a young child and is a great outlet when they cannot fully express themselves. I cannot recommend attempting your own invitations to play enough.

Here are a few more examples of different setups we have made:

Ball runs are a really fun invitation because after trying the run out a few times, it gets destroyed and often rebuilt how a 4 year old envisions it.

Two other great pages with information on creating invitations to play can be found here.

The Imagination Tree


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