An Invitation to Play – Compost Tray, Found Objects from Nature and Toys

An Invitation to Play

If you saw our post on Pre-Writing Skills yesterday you may have seen Doodles using a tray full of compost/Peat Moss to practice his writing in.  I knew that he would be dying to get his hands on this tray when we had finished our writing activities so I had gathered lots of bits and pieces so that he could have lots of fun.  I laid everything out on the table and encouraged him to create a small world with all of the materials.  Oodles was anxious to be involved too so I had a smaller tray ready for her too.  You may know by now that Doodles is construction obsessed, he loves to create scenes and buildings with a variety of materials so I had a pretty good feeling about giving him this invitation to play.

Bits 'n piecesMaterials used:

  1. Tray
  2. Compost
  3. pine cones
  4. pebbles
  5. twigs
  6. leaves
  7. cars and diggers
  8. wooden railway/road tracks from Ikea
  9. plastic animals
  10. dinosaurs
  11. lots of loose pieces – bottle tops, wine corks, broken pieces of toys etc.


What we did:  animals and insects

I’ll let the photos show you.  By presenting the materials attractively gives the child an invitation to be creative and play freely.  The materials themselves act as inspiration so if you had a particular theme in mind that you would like your child to explore, then present them with some materials/objects relating to that theme  (shells and sand for seaside theme etc).  This is also a great way to encourage talk and discussion, encourage your child to explain the process as they go along and the reasons for the decisions they make.

little world construction site

Doodles decided that he would like to build a bridge over a swampy field.  He used his toy diggers to clear the route for the road!

compost fun


He then added some of the wooden track pieces to his tray.

mini construction site

He added lots of pebbles and plastic insects and snakes!!!!!  Apparently the builders uncovered giant bugs while constructing the road!!!!!

building a bridge over a swamp

He played with his small world for quite some time, adding and removing bits and pieces.  At one stage his T-Rex trampled across the tray and destroyed the bridge and he had to be rebuilt.

oodles joins in

O f course little Miss Oodles wasn’t going to miss out on the fun.  She had a blast with the dinosaurs and overturning the cars, I think she mat have been creating some sort of disaster movie – there was a lot of destruction and roaring involved!!!



I love open ended, creative activities and this is such a simple way to encourage this type of play.  We regularly use our sand tray for similar activities! *Quick tip! – I keep a small container on my kitchen counter which we just throw all sorts of loose pieces into to be used for these types of activities, including wine corks, bottle tops, plastic bits ‘n bobs, broken pieces of toys, etc.

Have fun!

Ciara x

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