We seem to be hitting a wall in the activities area these past few days. Zachary doesn’t seem very engaged with the activities I’ve put out for him — in fact, if I’m being brutally honest, I would say he is bored with them.
Perhaps it’s because our learning area has undergone change over the past few weeks and thus has disrupted his routine (we have removed our shelves and put in new ones, along with a new coat of white paint on the walls.) Or maybe it’s because the activities I’ve prepared are not challenging enough for him, or he’s not interested in those subjects.
Whatever the reason is, it is clear there has been a shift in Zach’s interests and needs. The bottom line is that I need to observe more closely in order to determine the direction in which I need to move.
This is not Montessori, however, one of the activities I’ve prepared has been a tremendous success in the face of this shift. You see, his classroom in school is based on the Reggio approach, so I decided to create a Reggio-inspired provocation for him. I believe this is sometimes called an “invitation to play.”
Here I’ve created an invitation to create snowmen! The setup couldn’t be easier — provide a tray or box with compartments, and fill it with loose parts. The idea is to allow them unlimited exploration and creativity with the materials on hand.
I’ve filled our box with twigs, pebbles, goggly eyes, pom poms, ribbons, buttons, and acorn caps. I also made a fresh batch of plain white play dough.
When I first introduced the activity to Zach, I saw an immediate shift in his face. He had a huge smile in his face and wanted to dig in right away. Matthew joined in the fun later and before long we had a snowman family.
Both boys ended up spending about 45-60 minutes on this. By themselves! That also includes the time that they spend role-playing with the snowmen. I love how this activity goes beyond the limits of having children with a wide age gap — both children are able to enjoy this activity fully, each using the skills that they’ve developed, both giving and receiving ideas about what they can do, and helping each other when help is needed.
After seeing how well this works, I’m definitely going to incorporate more open-ended invitations to play for my children. I think it would be especially fun (and keep me sane) in the upcoming 2-week Christmas break.