Overview: Invitations are used in our Tot School to encourage my daughter to create and/or explore the topics we are learning about. Here are our top 8 favorites from this year.
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Invitations are the foundation to my Tot School approach. I know my daughter needs a child-led approach, but at the same time I need structure. Invitations help me achieve both.
Related: What are Invitations?
Over the past few months, I have been adding in more invitations to our Tot School days to help prepare Sicily for a slightly more structured learning environment when she reaches 3 years old. Here are our 8 favorite invitations from the past few months.
Invitation to Explore Ladybugs
During our Spring Toddler Theme, we spent a day learning about ladybugs. I set up this invitation for her to explore and create.
Sicily loves learning through art experiences, so whenever I set up an invitation to explore, I need to add in an art component. Without the art activity, she pays no attention to the invitation.
For this invitation, I laid out her tablet with a YouTube video of the ladybug life cycle, 2 ladybug books, and a ladybug potato stamping activity.
As Sicily began doing the potato stamping, I turned on the YouTube video. We talked about each life cycle stage and how the ladybug is changing. Once we finished, she picked Ladybugs to read.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
This invitation was during our Spring Toddler Theme as well. After reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, I laid out the numbers and pieces from the story.
We spent some time exploring the numbers and counting each piece of food for each number. After I explored a bit with her, I let her be.
She continued to play with this invitation by lining up all the pieces in one big line. Then she began to count “1, 2, 3. 1, 2, 3.” She could only count to 3 at that time.
Invitation to Explore Butterflies
Yet again, during our Sprint Toddler Theme I set out an invitation to explore butterflies. As always, I needed an art component to pull her into the invitation.
For this invitation, I laid out a life cycle time lapse on her tablet, the life cycle pieces, and the book What is a Butterfly?.I also added our live caterpillars which had turned into chrysalis and a symmetry painting activity.
Sicily noticed the painting right away. I invited her to squirt the paint onto half of the butterfly I had cut out of large white paper. Then we smooshed it together and rubbed the wings. When we opened it, we talked about how the butterflies wings are the same on both sides.
We then explored the video and book to talk about the different life cycle stages. We talked more about how the wings are the same on both sides.
Painting with Flowers
I think this is by far Sicily’s favorite invitation! I laid out some carnations, paint, large white paper, flower life cycle cards, The Tiny Seed, and Planting a Rainbow.
We read The Tiny Seed during our morning meeting then when I let her go play, she saw this invitation immediately. As she used the flowers to paint, I read Planting a Rainbow.
This invitation led nicely into our science experiment. When she finished, we spent time looking at the life cycle cards then planted a lima bean seed in a baggie to watch it grow.
During our Easter Toodler Theme, we made some purple playdough. After it cooled I laid it out on the table with glass gems, beads, and buttons.
This may look like a mess, but she spent over an hour laying out each piece exactly where she wanted it.
During our Beach Toddler Theme, we did a seashell counting tot tray every morning during our meeting. Sicily loved this activity, so I set it up daily as an invitation.
She counted those seashells over 10 times that week.
What I love best about this invitation, is that you can modify it to match any theme or topic that interest your child.
During our All About Me Toddler Theme, we spent a day talking about emotions. We talked about different faces and made a few in the mirror.
I asked her what things we could find outside that might make a good face. After brainstorming we headed outside with our bucket to collect materials.
Once we came back in, I set up this invitation to explore. I laid our the pieces we found plus a few others I had laying around. I added a mirror and a large wood cookie to use as the base.
The best part of this whole invitation was when she was building her first face. She asked “nose go mom?”
I told her it goes under the eyes. She picked up the rock she used as her eyes and placed the nose rock under it. Win for positional words!
Our last favorite invitation from this year was an invitation to explore her name. I wrote each letter of her name on a separate piece of construction paper and laid them on the floor. Then I took plain round stickers and wrote each letter multiple times.
The object was to place the correct letter sticker on the correct letter paper. Which she successfully did for the first few letters.
After that, the stickers ended up on me, her brother, Goofy, and herself!
Invitations are amazing activities to add into your tot school or home preschool. They allow you to have some structure, but also keep things completely child-led. Some of these invitations led into other learning experiences which kept the learning going.