Sensory Play is essential to the development of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. This specific kind of play stimulates and develops young minds, gross, and fine motor skills. Giving your little one the opportunity to discover through play with materials develops them cognitively, socially, emotionally, physically, and creatively.
So what exactly is an Invitation to Play? It's exactly what it sounds like, an invitation to play. By creating opportunities for open-ended play with various materials or sensory discoveries, we are empowering them to discover and learn about the world around them while having fun. Play opportunities should have no expected end outcome. For example, when you create an activity with finger paints and other materials you should not expect them to paint a masterpiece. Let them discover and play! Squishing paint is a great sensory activity, and if they happen to splatter it onto a toilet paper roll it's an added bonus of putting two and two together. A cause and effect reaction – see, they're learning through play!
If you are wanting to steer your playtime into more constructive learning, remember to keep it simple. Don't force it, instead supply the tools and items for that subject or development area. For example, sensory play stations you provide can be specific to the "subject" or theme. It's amazing what is learned through dramatic and pretend play! If your goal is to learn more about colours, shapes, or numbers, then your items in play would include those colours, shapes, or numbers.
So here are a few great ideas for your own Invitations. You don't need much more than simple household items, plus or minus some baskets or containers to hold the items. And possibly a protective or waterproof cloth to protect their "work area". You can arrange a set time of the day or week for these invitations, rotate your "stock" monthly, or just set them out for them to discover on their own. Young minds will surprise you with how creative they can be with recognizable or new items.