This was one of the most engaging invitations to play I have ever done with my toddler! It was so simple to put together and provided lots of opportunities to develop his spatial reasoning and awareness.

Part of the allure (as a parent) of putting together invitations to play is that they are simple and a lot of thought doesn’t need to go into them (we are not meant to “plan out” how the kids will respond to the material, our kids usually surprise us with their creativity!) However, we should thoughtfully place objects together which will encourage certain aspects of development (creativity, spatial reasoning, problem solving, etc.) Sometimes it’s tough to just “let him play” without showing him what to do with the materials. In this invitation to play though, I really did just sit back and watch him “have a ball” (pun intended, I just couldn’t help myself 😉

Our materials:

  • Balls of various colors, sizes, and textures
  • Bowl (or rings) of varying size, color, etc.

The set up:

I just placed all the balls in a basket and laid out the bowls nearby.

The Play:


Being an adult I seem to have lost a bit of my creative spark! When I was setting up I really only saw this play going one way: fit the balls in the bowls. One ball per bowl. Maybe Cannon would color match if he was feeling particularly orderly. But my son’s mind does not have the same constraints for order as mine does. He saw the materials and he stacked the cups in a tower, shook up a ball in two cups, put a hat on a basketball, rearranged the bowls, and even simply ignored some of the balls in the basket!
I love watching Cannon surprise me with his creativity. And I’m glad I didn’t feel pressured to teach him the “right way” to explore this activity. I’m a strict “Type A” personality, but my son is slowly helping me recover from what can sometimes become a debilitating desire for control and order. The more time I spend watching my toddler learn/play, the more I realize I have a lot to learn from him! Can’t wait to see what lessons he has in store for me tomorrow :) 

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