Sometimes inspiration hits you in unexpected ways. Most often ideas on new ways to challenge and engage the little people come from thoughtful reflection and observation. Sometimes they come through the mail. I received a box of books recently and it was full of a large amount of packing paper. I was on the way to the recycling bin when I realized that this would be the perfect provocation for the infant to investigate.
I set up the box with a bit of the paper sticking out on the littlest person's play mat. I then set the littlest person near the box and he quickly began to explore. This was an interesting invitation for the infant; it allowed him to explore the paper with the entirety of his body. Not only that, but as he his reach has continued to develop over the course of this study he was able to pull the paper out of the box and manipulate it around his body.
As I observed the littlest person explore I thought that I would introduce a new challenge. I set him inside the box to provide a new perspective. This invitation turned out to provide him with the perfect opportunity to experience risk as I set him inside and sat back. Inevitably he fell out of the box and though startled continued to explore and engage. The very beginnings of learning to take a risk, fall, and get back up!
At this point his older brother became curious about what was happening. His older brother loves to put things inside of boxes and so he took the box and put a few of the infant's toys inside as an invitation to play. Not only did this provide the littlest person with another way to engage with the box, but as the brother was near and talking to the infant it was the start of a (small) learning community.
As the infant became more excited about the noises and textures the relationship with the paper and the box were providing him, eventually the older brother decided that he too had to experience the box. In the spirit of community learning, the little person took a cue from the littlest person.