What is an 'Invitation to Play?'

Invitation to Play

'Invitation to Play' is a popular phrase in the early childhood education and play world. Though this concept has been around a long time, Reggio Emilia is credited with first giving this style a name. ⁠

In a nutshell, an invitation to play starts by providing your child with a simple setup (or complex if you are ambitious)  that invites them in to explore and engage in a creative, non-directed way. It's the "springboard" or "spark" to imaginative play so to speak. The Montessori and  Waldorf styles of education rely on this model heavily! ⁠

I've been mulling on this concept and idea lately, and decided to try applying to it a frustration I've recently had. We own a small collection of Schleich animal figures, and my kids have taken little to no interest in them. (I mean really! Do they have any clue how expensive they are??) These figurines have literally lain in a drawer for years with hardly any interaction.

Yesterday I decided to stop my inward grumble and actually do something about it. While they were outside, I took 3 minutes to grab our Playmobil barn, a few wooden fences, plus those despised animals, and I quickly set up a simple "invitation" for them. When they returned inside, it didn't take them long to discover what I had set up, and they immediately went to town playing and creating.  ⁠They added their own loose parts and this open ended invitation to play lasted TWO HOURS! 

Open ended toys and loose parts are the key here. Toys that make noise and have a single use have almost no place in our home. Giving my kids the tools in their toolbox to build those brain neurons, strengthen their fine motor skills, and interact and talk with each other while creating is a priority for us! The rewards are so worth the little bit of time investment! 

Open Ended Toys


  • Great information! You have lovely kits that are great for invitation to play set ups!

  • Invitation to play is so effective! Your kids are awesome and any kid would be drawn to learn!

  • Great thoughts!

  • Invitations to play are so important

  • Love setting up open ended invitations with your dough!


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