I love the freedom and creativity that came out of this art project! This invitation to play create a town activity was a great way to let children use their imagination. I also liked the project because there is very little prep work involved.
The idea of an ‘invitation to play’, or invitation to create, is fairly new to me, but I have been trying it out over the last few months with my kids at home and at school.
Basically an invitation to create involves setting out a variety of materials as a way of inviting someone else, or a group of children, to then create something with the materials.
There is no specific goal in mind or idea that has to be created, children are given the freedom to create what they want.
Preparing Your Create a Town
At home, as I explore this idea of invitations to create, each evening I have been setting something out for my kids to find in the morning.
Sometimes it is something new to play with or a game or puzzle that they have not used in awhile as a way to encourage them to explore it again.
However, what I have found that works best is setting of a variety of arts and craft materials. I don’t tell them to play with whatever I leave out – if they are interested, they play with it, otherwise it is left untouched.
The other day I created a few small, simple, houses made from construction paper on a large sheet of cardboard. I also left out a bunch craft supplies to give them some ideas.
That’s all there is to an invitation to create. The rest is up to the children to decide what to do with the materials and what they want to create. I don’t give any instructions or have any expectations of what they will create. There is no wrong way to create.
There are not specific materials that you need to supply for this activity. Simply use what you have on hand. You will be amazed by what children can come up with given any variety of materials.
- Large Piece of Cardboard
- Construction Paper
- Variety of Building/Craft Materials (Popsicle Sticks, Paint, Yarn, Pompoms, Cotton Balls, Foam etc.)
I left the two houses out with the collection of materials and was excited to see what my kids would come up with!
Invitation to Play Create a Town Set Up
Although the results of any invitation to play will vary depending on the children creating, I am sharing this idea with you because it was so successful.
I ended up using the idea again in my classroom and set out the same invitation to play and create with a group of 3-6 year olds.
Once you have created a few items, such as houses, simply let children be drawn to it. I used the idea to create a town because we had been studying structures and community. The houses gave a springboard for children to then create.
This ended up being a really successful invitation to play! I was amazed by what they created.
Invitation to Play Create a Town Creation
They started by painting the cardboard green for grass as well as some paths brown. I loved that they did this because they integrated some of what they were learning with the community and roads etc.
They used some cups that I set out to create a ‘Treasure Books” store, complete with a character and store sign. The character was simply made from a Styrofoam ball and pipe cleaner.
My kids were very excited to tell me all about what they created. I loved listening to them tell me all about their little town. My kids had a reason for every single item in their town and a lot of thought went into the creation.
They had used sparkly paper to create a small pond and stones to go around a park. They even connected popsicle sticks to look like a park bench.
One material that my kids ended up using a lot were wax sticks (link below). They were a great alternative to hot glue and they can be twisted to create some really interesting things.
My favourite part of their completed invitation to play was the playground that they created. They created a swing using wax strips, stir sticks and string.
I love the fact that the swing was moveable and designed just like a swing, but they used random materials to create.
I was really impressed by what they created from a very simple idea to start. In the future, I will certainly be using more invitations to play in the classroom and even more at home.
Create a Town Learning
Creating the town ended up being an almost full day activity. My kids just kept thinking of more and more things that they wanted to add to their town.
It worked out really well because when they were done creating, they then played with the characters they had made and played all afternoon.
It made me happy to see what their imaginations brought to life and they were equally proud of what they had created!
I think if kids have an idea of what they want to create, they will be able to use any materials available to them to create it. Therefore, don’t worry about having the ‘best’ materials for your invitation to play.
I later did this invitation to create for Earth Day. We collected lots of recycled materials for a few weeks before the activity. Instead of using new materials to create the town, you can challenge children to create using recycled materials.
It is a great way to recycle and reuse materials.
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More Hands-On Teaching Ideas
If you are looking for more activities and ideas to do in the classroom, or at home with kids, below are some of my favourite and most popular learning activities.
From more easy science projects, to arts and crafts to escape rooms and tinker trays there are lots of things to keep kids busy and learning.