November 14, 2012

anatomy of a {toddler} play space: a tour of where the dudes play

*disclaimer*
Before you read this post, please know that this play area is rarely all in order. (It's usually only this clean when the boys are asleep.) So no, we're not some freakizoid family with constantly organized rooms, I just made it look pretty for you. Plus, half the fun of picking up is making a mess again anyways! 

The boys' play area is one of my favorite places in our home, mainly because of how much time we spend here. This area is actually "technically" where our dining table is intended be but we're lucky enough to have room in our open kitchen (from where this picture is taken) to put our dining table. 

One huge advantage of having this play area is that it keeps all of their toys generally in one place, and it's out where we spend most of our time/where I can see them. Having toys in their room would be pointless because I'm never in there so by default neither are they. Plus, we've given the boys the impression that bedrooms are for sleeping, not playing (otherwise they'd never sleep). So their bedroom is pretty basic.

I put a lot of thought into this space and think it's payed off. Here's a closer look:
These are some of the things I thought through while arranging the room. The shelves have been the single best purchase we've made recently. We bought them from Ikea for around $70 each but you could get lots of different cheaper versions like this or this (although I'd keep baskets off the upper shelves). The point of these shelves is that they display all of the toys, instead of burying them in a toy box. The boys have played with ALL of their toys more with this set up than they ever did. They seriously play with almost all of their toys each day, which makes buying toys actually worth the money. The shelves also help keep everything organized, which is a big deal for me. 

Some details on this area: 
* Rug - Target
* Shelves and baskets - Ikea
* table and chairs - Ikea (I chalkboard painted the top)
* work bench - Toys 'r Us
* hanging art display: made with clothes pins, a piece of yarn and 2 thumb tacks. easy peasy.

The toys I'd like them to focus are kept out and visible. Books, wooden toys and blocks, that little farm ($1 at Goodwill!) To be honest, we don't have hardly any toys that make noise, mainly because they annoy me but also because we want to encourage the boys to use their imaginations. Also, toys without batteries really help encourage interaction and speech, which is something we are really working on. When putting the area together I really tried to put myself in the boys' shoes and see what they see, it is THEIR play area after all.

The bottom rows have baskets that house the smaller toys. Baskets on the top shelves would be a little dangerous (these are pretty big/heavy) plus, not easy for little bodies to lift. The toys I want them to play with most are at eye level or displayed on top because all toddlers like to reach up high for things!

Even HOW I arrange things on shelves makes a difference. I set up that drawing board so they look directly at it when they walk by and you'd be surprised with how many times they'll chose that over something else. The legos are in a clear tub (with wheels), we even have flashlights for fun at night. If you've never given your toddler a flashlight in the dark, you're missing out. The dudes could play with them for hours!

Thanks for touring our play area! Hope some of this was helpful or maybe gave you a few ideas on how to set things up for your own kids. You don't need a huge area like this, even lining their toys up on one wall would work! For toddlers with short attention spans, visibility is key. If you have any suggestions or questions I'm here!




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