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Category Archives: Play and Learning

Children learn so much through play. Find ideas for connecting and bonding with your child. Playful activities, independent play, learning activities. Playful parenting solutions. Learning game.

Independent Play: Using Play Invitations To Encourage Imagination and Learning

Independent Play: Using Play Invitations To Encourage Imagination and Learning

Independent play helps children feel confident, builds a sense of capability, concentration skills and creates many opportunities for discovery and learning.

While children do not need intricate and overly elaborate toys or play opportunities to develop well, offering diverse play materials and new opportunities is a great way to help children enjoy their independent playtime. This is also a fantastic way to rotate toys that have been a bit forgotten and introduce new materials.

So, a play invitation is simply setting out a specific play activity or a few toys on a surface that is easily accessible to the child, such as a small table or a blanket on the ground. Whatever toy or activity it is, it should be something the children can:

  • Play without assistance and low supervision
  • Play without directions or corrections (i.e. if you overhear dogs meowing, numbers being skipped etc…it’s ok to not correct that!)
  • Play without abrupt interruptions

Play dough and various accessories are one of my children’s favorite independent play activities. A recent invitation to play with playdough, scissors and pipe cleaners was a great success:



Some play invitations I often set up are:

  • colorful stock paper, scissors and a glue stick
  • a box of corks and bells
  • pipe cleaners
  • a bunch of empty egg cartons
  • building blocks
  • a bin of stuffed animals
  • pompoms and cups
  • feathers and foam shapes
  • paper plates and cotton balls
  • a cardboard box, crayons and a flashlight

Here is another example of an invitation to play: A plate with various items and an empty bottle. My daughter spent a long while pinching, sorting and dumping items from jar onto plate and back again, grouping items, comparing shapes and sizes and making up stories along the way.



One of the most special things about  independent play is how much we can find out about our children by simply stepping back, observing and listening.  When children play alone they often take it as an opportunity to exercise the skills they are working on. For example, you might hear a child counting out loud to make sense of her number ordering, or stacking things as they practice balancing, or singing and creating stories as they explore their imagination.

Independent play is also a fantastic tool for self regulation, working out frustrations and exercising patience. When children play independently, it also gives us parents a chance to work on something else, a window of time for self-care or time to connect with another child.

If you would like some inspiration for play invitations you can also check out these wonderful resources:

Invitation to play in the sink by Mama. Papa. Bubba. Blog

Invitation to play with a cardboard car ramp byKids’ Play Space – a mother’s journey

Invitation to Play: Creating a Fall Tree  by School Time Snippets

Invitation for Imaginary Play with Play Dough byNurturestore

Invitation to build with pipe cleaners and pool noodles by And Next Comes L


Peace & Be Well,

The Importance of Hands-On Learning Fun

The Importance of Hands-On Learning Fun

Children love sensory play, messy science experiments, and hands-on activities. While it seems like children are “just playing” during this time, they are actually learning quite a bit. Hands on play activities are important for children to develop and practice many different skills. In this post, Mary Catherine, author of Fun-A-Day is sharing the importance of hands-on… Continue Reading

What are the benefits of playing online games for children?

If parents create reasonable guidelines with their children and create positive agreements around playing online games then struggles like kids staying up late playing on their computers; disinterest in school activities or work and problems with children isolating themselves do not need to become an issue.

There are a multitude of fun and age appropriate games online that can provide opportunities for children to exercise their creativity, set goals, practice persistence, develop responsibility, and even learn new information. Games like taking care of a virtual pet like horse games or building cities, puzzles and more can be quite fun. Continue Reading

Play & Discover: 6 Learning Activities For Toddlers & Preschoolers

Play & Discover: 6 Learning Activities For Toddlers & Preschoolers

The best learning activities for toddlers are simple and encourage learning through exploration. From figuring out patterns, matching pairs, color sorting  and more, play activities are a great  hands on way for toddlers & preschoolers to experiment and learn.   The following six activities are fantastic opportunities for children to work on cognitive, motor, social… Continue Reading

Stimulating Summer Activities for Your Kids

Stimulating Summer Activities for Your Kids

***Today I am sharing a guest post from Heather. She is sharing her ideas for creating stimulating summer activities for children.*** Despite the fact that kids count down until school lets out of the summer starting in January, once summer actually hits parents are often flooded with the constant cries of, “I’M BORED!” To counteract… Continue Reading