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Winter in the Woods Invitation to Play & Small World Play

Invitation to play & small world play captures my interest and how much more a child’s!  And I do love to create them!  After 10 years of working with children in my home, I have quite a collection of materials for play. My basement is a wonderful resource and also at times a nightmare! There’s toys, craft supplies, natural materials, various resources, books, fabric and recycled materials ready to use. It’s amazing what I can find down there some days! That’s the key…finding it! The organization of these materials is always a work in progress. About these invitations to play and small world environments:

Invitations to Play

The idea of an invitation to play is to set up materials in an inviting way for the child to explore on their own. There’s no point in me repeating what’s already been so helpfully shared so for more information see this post about Creating Invitations to Play  from The Imagination Tree.  Deborah at Teach Preschool offers this tutorial on invitations to play.

Winter in the Woods Invitation to Play & Small World Play

Small Worlds

Small worlds are quite self explanatory – they are miniature displays in a defined space that  incorporate  imaginative or pretend play, sensory play, natural play, stories and more. Small word displays can be created in boxes, bins, baskets, on trays, in the garden or in creative places like suitcases.

Acting out narratives and ideas through the manipulation of small equipment (animals, dolls, Lego people etc) helps children to reflect on feelings and events in their lives in a safe way. Small world play is also rich in possibilities for learning about spaces and positions, with many opportunities for putting things inside structures, on top, next to and underneath. {source}

Winter in the Woods Invitation to Play & Small World Play

Our Winter in the Woods theme with Mother Goose Time  inspired this Winter in the Woods Invitation to Play & Small World Play . Included on our table:

Winter in the Woods Invitation to Play & Small World Play

Loose Materials & Natural Items

I love the concept of loose materials and natural items of for play that goes along with invitations to play/small world play. I’m finding more and more that I like the Reggio inspired learning method. I’ve been finding such fun pieces at consignment and thrift shops – for a very low price!  to use in these play invitations – wood bowls and unique looking items that children aren’t usually even allowed to touch. I like the idea of offering different materials for them to explore.

Winter in the Woods Invitation to Play & Small World Play

No doubt these set ups inspire wonder, creativity and imagination. The hands on aspect is wonderful for emphasis on any theme you are trying to educate with. Here, during play, is an opportunity to observe patterning, thought processes, counting and story telling skills and more.

I do think my group just needs to be exposed to more of these play opportunities as they’re not always sure exactly what to do with them. I have certain ones that love this type of play and create it on their own. Other times I play too and show them how we can use the materials and sometimes they ask “Can we…?” and the answer is “yes!”

Check out Puzzles Family Day Care on Facebook – She is the pro at setting up amazing play areas!  Below are some more links for creating inspiration play scenes:

Small World Resources:
Invitation to Play Resources:


Wintertime Invitations to Play - Left Brain Craft Brain

Thursday 13th of November 2014

[…] Winter in the Woods with the forest animals. (Things to Share and Remember […]

Teach Preschool

Saturday 14th of December 2013

We Just started exploring small world play in my classroom and the kids love it!