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Simple Invitations to Play that Will Engage a Child


This post includes ideas on how to hook a child’s interest in an activity and a Simple Invitation to Play. My older son has been refusing many invitations to do an activity to Play. I feel I have failed him. Sure, most of the activities are “fun” and based on learning while playing but over time these activities began to feel more and more contrived.

“Unstructured play, which should be part of every child’s life on a daily basis, lays the groundwork for social competence.” ~ Madeline Levine

So, I took a step back and thought about what I need to do to hook him into these learning activities. If he wasn’t on board and engaged in the activity, then I could forget about learning or earning his respect for that matter. Then HE gave me the answer.

Ideas on How to Hook a Child’s Interest

Here is what getting a child to participate fully boiled down to for our family:

  • Observe how and with what he plays
  • Acknowledge interests even if those interests don’t match your own
  • Join interests by playing with him and showing you’re interested in his world
  • Make the activity about him and make it within the context of his world (e.g. if your child likes Star Wars, create a space theme or use “spaceship” as an example of a compound word)
  • Add an element of surprise into activities and create an air of excitement and allure to the activity.
  • Be active with your activity. Moving the body is high with a child’s interest and development, generally.

Simple Invitation to Play


 Mystery “Build It” Box


Simple Invitation to Create

closed box, glue, scissors, sticks, moss, petals, cones, fern, bubble wrap, a cork, & rocks


Points of Interest

An element of surprise, natural items, glue, and autonomy to create

How to Hook a Child’s Interest

  • Simple invitations
  • Remove the clutter from a learning space makes the invitation easier to identify and engage the child
  • Leave your baggage at the door
  • Prepare for an activity fail
  • Be excited but not too excited
  • Be prepared ahead of time
  • Be organized to dip into your arsenal & bend the activity to your child’s interest

How do you hook a child into an activity?

I hope we inspired you today!


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