Maybe you have a playroom but it seems like more chaotic running and fighting is happening than playing. Or maybe you are creating a new playroom from scratch. Either way, where do you start?
The playroom is more than just a room. Your playroom is the environment that inspires and directs your child’s learning through play. A well organized and crafted play space sets the stage for great, engaged play. Often the difference between children happily playing or wandering around bored is simply the playroom itself.
Is your house taken over with toys?
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Here are five things that everyone should consider when creating a playroom.
1. Low, Durable Playroom Furniture
You want a playroom that will grow with your child. When collecting furniture for your playroom consider the following:
- Height. Is it low and open enough that infants and young children can reach the first couple shelves? This will make your child’s toys accessible to them, thus encouraging independent play.
- Durability. Is everything durable to withstand years of young children playing with it?
- Color. I prefer wood furniture or muted colors so they blend more into the background. It seems like bright, happy colors should be perfect for children, but often too much color is overwhelming to young children.
Depending on your space, for an infant you will likely want one or two shelves, a play mat, and some soft items like big pillows or soft rugs. As your child gets older you might want to add a small table with chairs, a pretend kitchen, train table, etc.
2. Playroom Space & Flow
Now you have your furniture and you are deciding where to put everything. Try to step into the mind of a child while you are moving around your shelves.
- How will they use the toys on this shelf?
- Where will they want to play?
- Where will they need to get to? Is there a direct path to the door or the bathroom?
- Is there an obvious circular path that they will want to run around again and again?
Work on creating defined spaces for different types of play. This is how you avoid having block towers toppling over onto someone trying to read a book. Try to separate quieter areas from louder areas with the way you arrange the shelves or play mats.
Most playrooms will have:
- A shelf near a larger space for building, putting together puzzles, driving cars.
- A shelf near a table for activities such as small puzzles, lacing, art, and other fine motor activities.
- A kitchen and pretend play area. Often there are hooks on the wall for costumes.
- A quiet area with a bookshelf or book basket, a rug, and perhaps some big pillows or a tent.
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3. Playroom Light, Art, and Plants
It perhaps seems odd to care about beauty when you are thinking about children’s play, but a beautiful, calm playroom produces beautiful, calm play. A busy, loud playroom creates busy, loud play. There is a good chance that you don’t have much control over the space that will be used for a playroom but you can,
- Take advantage of any natural light by placing the main play spaces near the window.
- Consider adding a softer additional light source like rope lights or lamps for when it gets darker instead of bright, harsh overhead lighting.
- Hang some photos or artwork lower at the eye line of your child.
- Consider adding some plants. They are a wonderful way for children, even toddlers, to learn to care for something and add simple, natural beauty to your space.
4. Playroom Storage
When it comes to storing toys, you will need two kinds of spaces and materials.
1. Storing Toys for Play
For toys laid out for your child to play, you will want low shelves and some open baskets or buckets. Gather some sturdy baskets in a variety of sizes, craft stores are good for these, and use them to store your toys. If you prefer, solid plastic tubs will also do the job well.
Divide toys into groups such as; legos, blocks, cars, dolls. Put one type of toy in each basket. This makes cleaning up simple.
2. Storing Toys to Rotate
I wrote an entire post on how to rotate toys, but you will want to put some toys away to rotate into your playroom later. Put these in large gallon ziploc bags and clear plastic storage tubs.
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5. Amount of Toys in the Playroom
Too many or too few toys in your playroom will result in chaos, squabbles, or boredom. I’m going to give you my top tips for De-Cluttering toys in the next Playroom 101 post. For now, start by throwing away anything broken or missing pieces and start by placing fewer toys on the shelves than you think you need. You can always add more later.
PLAYROOM 101 - COMING SOON!
Everything you wanted to know to have a playroom kids actually use for PLAY!
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Erin Buhr has a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and works as a freelance writer and early childhood educator. She currently lives in Mississippi with husband and twin four year olds. You can read more by Erin on her blog, Bambini Travel, where she writes about family travel, children’s books, and preschool activities.