Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Playspace That Works

I love creating kid-friendly spaces! Our playroom (an enclosed side porch Realtors technically called a "third bedroom," since it has a tiny closet) has been a work in progress since we moved in 2 years ago...for a few reasons:
  1. As our kids grow and change, their playtime changes, too. Especially in the first few years! We've finally landed on some things that BOTH kids can play with, albeit differently, in their age-appropriate ways. Even my 9-year-old niece has a ball in our playroom...and it's designed with preschoolers in mind!

  2. We kept reorganizing things to see what works best in this small space (an 8 x 5' rug just fits with a few feet of bare floor left over for the art table and chairs). Our goal: to create a space that both our kids can enjoy and then clean up...without a lot of adult intervention.

  3. We had too much stuff in the's been a process of elimination. What we're left with is a great selection of classic toys. We only kept what the kids actually play with, and we tried to focus on toys that will stand the test of time and accommodate their growing skills and imaginations. Coming Soon: Playroom Purge: The Toys We Kept

We are really blessed to have a playroom space completely dedicated to playtime. However, these ideas can be applied to any space you call a play space. We chose to put our son and daughter in one bedroom, figuring they can comfortably share a room while they are little. So far, we're happy with our decision, since we get to use the "third bedroom" as play space.

For the playroom, I took my cue from my son's preschool classroom. It, too, was a very small space, and it had to accommodate TEN three-year-olds! If Miss Ann could do it, I knew I could turn our small space into a kid-friendly place for two!

And like most preschool classrooms, our playroom is organized into "centers," which thrills my son to no end. We have the dress-up center, housekeeping, trucks and blocks, art table center, manipulatives (puzzles, stacking toys, beads, and sorting shapes), a music center, and lots and lots of children's books. I was thrilled when the puzzle rack I ordered arrived...slowly, but surely, each thing in the playroom finds a special home!

Because space (and money) is limited, I've had to get creative with our storage. As I went through the kids' bedroom closet, weeding out anything I could, I added this old diaper organizer to the pile of donations...until my practical side won out. I thought, "Surely I can find a way to use it somewhere in the house!" It became our music center, handily organizing and displaying our instruments for easy access.

Eventually, we hope to have built-in storage in the playroom, complete with pull-out trays for musical instruments, like my resonator set from the Musikgarten company. It's beautiful and deserves a special place of its own. For now, sadly, it rests on the floor beneath the diaper --I mean, music--caddy.

We may have mismatched shelving units, some tall, some short, but the space serves its purpose where it counts: at the eye level of a preschooler!

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