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First, thank you to each and every one of you who submitted an entry in our Share Your Invitation to Play ~ Win a $5000 Classroom Giveaway. There was an amazing energy in our natural play community around this giving back and we are deeply appreciative of everyone who participated and voted. This past week our amazingly talented contest panel met via video conference to review all of the top five entries. This was an exciting and dynamic debate and after much thoughtful consideration, the panel of educators from different parts of the United States and Canada chose a winner for the contest. Here’s what one panelist had to say about the winning entry:

Your provocation speaks to many children. While it is both beautiful and open ended, I feel the strength in this invitation lies in the way it creates space for many possibilities. The children who respond to your invitation will have countless opportunities for transforming the play. When play can be transformed, it means it can also be extended. It can also become more complex and dynamic as different children weave in and out of the work. The child who loves to tell a story might enter in by turning stones into characters. An imaginative child might pull the fabric right out and create a canopy rather than a river. The child drawn to constructive play could possibly raise the bridge or even move it altogether! The play could take place on top of the table or even under the table. There is also space for creativity as children can use the art materials presented to make additional props or signs that might be needed as their story unfolds. Soon you might even notice the chairs being removed altogether as children come and go. You might even see children bring their own found materials into this work. The possibilities really are endless!

When we develop invitations that reflect the unique strengths and interests of every child, and find ways for each child to contribute to the important work that is play, there is a beautiful sense of community that is felt by both the children and the adults in the program. One can easily imagine the relationships that could be built through the play that would evolve through this provocation.

Watch the video to find out who won and hear from the judges directly about why they chose the entry they did. Thank you again for all of your amazing contributions and for being part of our Invitation to Play contest.