I love invitations to play. I love setting them up almost as much as I love the play.

So what is an invitation to play?  Exactly as it sounds.  It is a range of materials which invites our clients to join in the play.  Invitations to play should be open ended, so it is important to find the right collection of materials.

As speech pathologists we have goals around our therapy and with this in mind, I collect materials which will support the expressive or receptive language goals I have set.  With the goals set we need to take the back seat and let the child take the lead.  Our role is to support and facilitate the language but also to follow the way the play proceeds.

In the collection of materials, we are able to support clients with different experiences.  For example, for your sensory children you can choose more sensory materials, whereas if a particular vocabulary set is the target then include those items in play – e.g. animals.

Some things to think about when setting up invitations to play:

  • Visualise how the children might use the materials but leave room for investigation and exploration. A great environment to build symbolic play
  • Can the child freely explore the materials?
  • What do I think the child will do with the materials?
  • What do I hope the child will do with the materials?

You can set up the invitation in any way.  I have a selection of chip’n’dip and serving platters. I have recently found a chip’n’dip with a lid which excited me no end!  My crafty invitation is now permanently set up and doesn’t create a mess when it is accidentally knocked over.

Here are a few of my invitations and my goals at the beginning of the session.

Invitation to play craft

My new purchase set with some sequins, packing peanuts, feathers and pom poms.  I often pair this with paper and we create a scene to support articulation or language.  I also add in a couple of Duplo people for actions.

invitations to play

Frozen characters and fake snow are always a winner. The fake snow also provides a great sensory experience.  I often team this with a white tray.  The language is endless.  I have targeted prepositions, verbs, sentences and play sequences. By the way Prince Hans is always buried because he is a baddie.


Who doesn’t like Peppa Pig and those muddy puddles?  Team some figurines with chocolate playdough. Our targets often include actions (jumping), prepositions (hide n seek) and it is a great activity for working on p b m.


There are some great playdough cutouts available from Picklebums.  You can team this with playdough or Sticky Foam. This makes a great 3d creation which you can use for giving and following instructions.

By the way Picklebums is amazing for ideas and free printables.  There are also garden and space printables following this same idea. Kate also has many invitation to play ideas.

There are heaps of ideas on Pinterest for different setups.

So, set up an invitation to play – you will have to restrain yourself and wait for your clients to arrive before starting to play.