Among Instagram’s parade of inspirational quotes, gorgeous travel snaps and latte art, you’ll find invitation.to.play, a vibrant account inspiring creative spaces that nurture young minds.
Browsing its elegant collection of images, it’s hard to keep a smile from your face as you’re given a glimpse into the warm and brightly coloured world of young children at play and, unbeknownst to them, deep in learning.
In every photograph we're invited to explore a different educational masterpiece, cleverly crafted from flowers, buttons, dried fruits, paints, and various other knickknacks, each with an important lesson to share. A respect for nature weaves its way into the magic, too: a “nature letters” space inspires letter recognition with leaves, and a “box zoo” made from recyclable materials houses our favourite animals.
From the outside, invitation.to.play is Play School meets Style Magazine, and Instagram loves it. Dig deeper, though, and you’ll see that this artistry truly resonates with the children as well. It’s sparking that sometimes-awkward-but-vital beginning of their love affair with learning.
Invitation.to.play’s following, already over 2,000 in just three months and growing, wasn’t expected, says its creator Sienna Craig.
“It started as a way for me to keep photos of my set-ups in one place and has turned into a new way I find passion in this industry,” she reveals.
“I love having the opportunity to inspire other educators and even parents.”
The industry she’s referring to is Early Childhood Education; Sienna is a lead educator at Currumbin Pines Early Learning Centre on Queensland's Gold Coast. Her passion for working with children, discovering their unique personalities and the creativity that goes hand-in-hand with the career is evident.
“There’s a lot to love about working in childcare, and building relationships with the children and their families is key,” Sienna says.
“Each child is unique; even tiny babies have their own personalities and the more you understand about each child, the more that relationship grows. Once you have that relationship and an understanding of the children’s individual interests, then you can form a program that caters to their developmental needs. This is my favourite part.
“I love creating inviting spaces children can explore, investigate and experiment with - with as much independence and autonomy as possible. The best learning spaces are initiated from the children and their interests.”
Sienna completed a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care with Amazing Education & Training in December last year. She encourages anyone who loves being creative and working with young children to do the same.
“If you’re thinking about working in childcare, I’d say go for it!” She says.
“Try volunteering at a childcare centre to see if it’s something you could love. It’s not for everyone and it’s certainly not all fun all the time, but if you find that you are passionate about it and have the patience and energy to work with a small army of big personalities, then a career in early education could be for you.”
Though it helps to have patience, passion, and a sparkle of creativity, Sienna believes that every early childhood educator can shine in their own way and through their own strengths.
“To work in this profession, there are many qualities an educator can have - organisational skills, time management and adaptability, to name a few,” she says.
“But it’s important to remember you are part of a team and that we educators don’t have to be everything at once. This has taken me a long time to learn and it’s still something I’m working on.”
Another impressive milestone Sienna is working towards right now is studying for her degree.
“I want to study my Bachelor of Early Childhood and Primary Education at university. Before studying with Amazing Education & Training, I wouldn’t have had the knowledge and confidence to enrol.
“I’m so grateful to Amazing and my trainer Hayley for empowering me to go further in my career.”
In the meantime, Sienna will continue to pervade Instagram with her inspiring creativity and passion for early childhood education and play-based learning.
And if you want to get involved, you can.
“I now have people sending me pictures of their own recreations of my work and asking for ideas and advice on how they can create similar provocations.” Sienna says.
A version of this article appeared in The Sector - Early Education News, Views and Reviews. View here.