Are you joining in with our November Invitations to Play Challenge?
The idea is that you set up an invitation to play for/with your child, inspired by the prompt word of the day. It's never too late to join in. Just dip in and out when you feel inspired. If you're someone who struggles with play inspiration (or not) then it can be a great way to try out new ideas. Children enjoy and seek novelty, so that's all this is really. Just a bit of fun.
This time around, instead of planning invitations to play for Bean, I opted to prepare her some invitations to create, as that is more in line with her current interests. All she wants to do at the moment is make, make, make! Sometimes these types of creative invitations lead on to play, but more often than not they inspire her to try out some of her own creative ideas.
Here are the prompts again, for those of you who may still like to join in...
For Day 1, I set out a basket of old Jenga-style blocks (these can be found very cheaply, and are great for customising) with our custom made Autumn watercolour paint palette. You can read more about creating a seasonal paint palette in this blog post. We popped an audio book on to listen to, and sat together for around an hour happily painting blocks.
I like that the watercolours stain the wood, allowing the wood grain to show through. It was interesting to see how some of the colours were more vibrant than others, and we experimented a bit with layering the paints. We found that the ends of the blocks were more absorbent than the sides, therefore soaking up more of the watercolour paint. I think they're beautiful and I'm now feeling inspired to make a set of seasonal blocks with each of our seasonal paint palettes!
We left the blocks to dry overnight, and the next morning I set them out with our basket of Autumn inspired loose parts and Schleich animals, for Bean to play with during morning time. Breakfast time for the foxes!
For Day 2, I set out a jar of transparent glass gems, with a selection of old, sparkly nail polishes. Again, we popped on an audio book to listen to, and sat together for upwards of an hour happily painting the flat sides of the gems with the nail polishes.
A few things to consider with this invitation to create: be sure to protect your work surface. I didn't bother, as Bean is quite capable and careful, but we did end up with a drop or two of polish on our table, which isn't easy to remove. Be sure to keep your room well ventilated (you may even opt to wear your Covid masks!) as nail polish is very fumy.
An alternative method, for those of you with excess glitter that you are keen to use up, is to spread a thin layer of PVA (Elmers) glue on the flat side of the gem, cover with glitter and then apply another layer of PVA over the top of the glitter to seal.
We left our sparkly gems to dry overnight and then I used superglue to fix some strong magnets on the back of them. These also make beautiful loose parts for play, with or without the magnets. We'll be gifting some of these to family and friends for Christmas, and the rest will adorn our fridge.
For Day 4, we painted some wooden mountains I had in one of our small world play baskets. I kept this invitation to create very open, simply laying out the acrylic paints for Bean to utilise in whichever way she felt inspired to. She opted to paint a rocky mountain with snow on the top, another in gold, and the last (my mountain) with flowers.
I was a bit more ambitious with my design idea, opting to try to recreate Vinicunca, the Rainbow Mountains of Peru. I spent a good month exploring the Andean region of Peru during my Gap year in 2005/6, and was sure that I would have remembered seeing these mountains while I was there. After a little research I discovered that they would have been covered in glaciers back then, and it is only in recent years, since the ice has melted, that these fascinating layers of mineralogical composition have been revealed.
We still need to paint the other side of our mountains (one of many unfinished projects) and I will likely seal them with our toy safe sealant once finished too. Hopefully these will eventually join our basket of small world play items.
For Day 8, we made a handful of these sweet origami paper stars. We bought the materials and instructions as a little kit from Myriad Natural Toys, but they're very simple to make, so I've shared a tutorial below.
Step 1: Prepare a strip of paper roughly 30cm long by 1cm wide. You can buy these papers ready prepared, or cut your own. You can write a message, positive affirmation, joke or forfeit on the paper, if you wish.
Step 2: Tie a loose knot in one end of the paper, then gently tighten and flatten the knot until it forms a star-shaped pentagon.
Step 3: Fold the short, loose end inwards and tuck it in.
Step 4: Wrap the long end of the paper around and around the star-shaped pentagon, being sure to retain the pentagon star shape. Flatten the edges smoothly, as you do for all origami folds.
Step 5: Tuck in the last of the remaining paper.
Step 6: To make your origami star 3D, use your nail to press firmly in the middle of each of the five sides of the pentagon.
These little stars make lovely loose parts for play, math manipulatives or for popping in a gift bag or box for adding a little bit of magic.
For Day 10, we made some more homemade bath bombs. We make a big batch like this roughly 3 or 4 times a year, so that we have a constant supply, and have them available to gift to family and friends. We tend to use small ice cube trays and shaped silicone moulds, so that we have lots of small bombs as opposed to fewer giant ones.
We use and love this recipe because it uses natural, non-toxic ingredients, which I buy in bulk because I use the ingredients to clean our home. We use our Doterra essential oils to scent them, and sometimes add some natural food colouring too. This time, Bean was keen to experiment with hiding some food colouring in the middle, to see if they would surprise the recipient in the bath! They smell divine and are lovely and fizzy.
This year I've ordered us some special Christmas themed silicone moulds for us to make our friends and family some Christmas bath bombs.
If you're looking for play inspiration, check out the hashtag #invitationstoplaychallenge over on Instagram for lots and lots of ideas relating to the daily prompts. There's ideas shared from our March Challenge under the same hashtag too.
This blog post contains affiliate links. If you do click through, Bean and I will receive a small amount of commission which will contribute to new books and resources for her home education. You can, however, find all of these resources elsewhere, including other online retailers, second hand selling pages and your local library.