It’s just the right time for a fall invitation to play! This invitation to play is simple and easy, but with a few basic materials the learning possibilities are also endless.
It’s just one of many fall preschool activities we included in our fall lesson plans for preschoolers this year.
Autumn Invitation to Play
Not only are items from nature, like acorns and fallen leaves, of abundance as we transition from summer to fall, items like table scatter, leaf confetti and silk leaves hit the craft stores, too. They can create beautiful and welcoming invitations to play. I find they are the perfect addition to any autumn or fall preschool theme.
And after having successfully gotten through the back to school season, preschool teachers feel rejuvenated and extra creative this time of year. This autumn loose parts play activity is just the one to kick off the new season.
FAQ About Creating an Invitation to Play
An invitation to play is a way of setting up materials or toys for a play session and inviting your preschooler to manipulate and play with the items as desired. Children are allowed to play with the provided materials in the way they see fit, which might not be conventional.
There should be no rules in an invitation to play, with the exception of being kind, respectful, and safe.
An invitation to play should be open-ended, which means that they should not be designed for a specific outcome. Set up an invitation to play by taking the following steps:
1. Select a well-lit, comfortable space for the invitation to play.
2. Select a range of items, manipulatives, or loose parts.
3. Arrange them in a pleasing manner.
4. Invite your preschooler to come and play.
There are no rules with what an invitation to play should look or feel like, so there is a wide range of what kind of invitation to play that can be presented. Playdough invitations to play are always popular, as well as small water bins, and activities using natural or recycled materials.
How to Create a Fall Invitation to Play
I love teaching with themed activities, and this fall loose parts invitation to play is a great way to kick off the fall season. You can even add this to your apples and pumpkins theme. And don’t forget this checks the box for fall sensory play, too.
To set up this invitation to play, simply scatter the table scatter (appropriately named, right?) on a mirror.I used a full body length mirror that extended most of the length of our preschool table. The mirror is not required, but it does increase the interest of the invitation to play.
Sprinkle the leaf confetti, acrylic leaves, acrylic pumpkins on this mirror. There is no particular way to scatter the materials. Typically, I just make a line down the center of the mirror or table so that all the preschoolers can reach the materials easily.
Also, the mirror is a fun alternative if you don’t have a light table.
It always seems that the children begin by simply playing, and this should be encouraged, because even when children are just playing they are learning a lot about their environment and materials. This student below begins by exploring sound as he allows the table scatter to pour from his hands. As he does so, he sings a song about leaves falling all around.
Then he drops the pumpkin scatter one by one, listening to them clang and crash onto the glass mirror.
As he does this, he tells me how he is making pumpkin soup, and offers some to his classmate to try. He then asks for the book Pumpkin Soup that we had read earlier that week and as I watch him play I can hear and see this little boy retelling the story as he continues to make his own pumpkin soup.
This student lines up the pumpkins to “make letters,” and I hear him naming the letter he remembers from his name. While he does not actually form any letters, this is an important part of play as it demonstrates the connection he has made between letters and writing.
For an awesome book about how to incorporate literacy into play, try More Than Letters: Literacy Activities for Preschool, Kindergarten, and First Grade.
As this student lines up the acrylic pumpkins, he counts. He pulls them out of the line and counts the pumpkins in groups, and then put them back into a line and counts again. It is a unique demonstration of one to one correspondence and knowledge of quantity.
While at first, this line of pumpkins and leaves was certainly not a pattern, I let them be. I wanted to give these students time to define their pattern, to work it out among themselves, to take risks by changing, redoing, and evaluating what they had done.
This was done with good reason and together the two preschoolers came up with a pattern we had not learned in class.
While difficult to see in the photo, they made an AACCCCCCCAACCCCCCC pattern. That is, their pattern read two leaves, followed by seven pumpkins, two more leaves, and another seven pumpkins.
Had I interfered, I probably would have limited the girls’ learning to an AB pattern, or ABC pattern. The pattern above was truly unexpected.
How to Make a Natural Fall Invitation to Play
One of the things that makes fall such a beautiful season is the ever changing landscape. Make this into an “all natural” autumn invitation to play. Here’s a list of natural materials that can be used.
- pumpkin seeds
- fresh leaves
- pine cones
- sycamore seeds
- sticks and swigs
- tree cross sections
- maple “helicopter” seeds
An invitation to play allows children to play in such an open ended manner that they are not hindered by adult interference.
True invitations to play are not presented with a specific end goal, rather the children are allowed to use the materials as props for their playful learning, which is exactly how I approached this autumn themed invitation to play.
More Fun Fall Activities
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.