Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Playing With Purpose

I am by no means an education expert or a proponent of homeschooling. I am a mom, though, and therefore an educator, and I believe that the home is the first school a child encounters. With that in mind, I set out to create a functional, fun area in our home for Lily a few months ago. Her room is full of toys, too, but she tends to play in the communal areas of the house more than anything so that's the part I wanted to focus on.

There are so very many resources online when it comes to things like this. I spent hours lost in Regggio Emilia, Montessori, and found the blog e-merging.org to be helpful. In the end, we pulled inspirations from each of these but the main idea is to keep it simple, fun, and interesting.

Accessibility is important because it fosters independence. With that in mind, everything is at child height and she can do what she likes without asking for help. However, in the montessori spirit, that thing has to be put away before a new activity can begin. To help with that, we labeled her bins with pictures instead of words. Check out that fancy tape job:

The shelves and bins are filled with blocks, wooden puzzles, crayons, books, magnets, playdough, and the like. Almost everything is from around the house and I'm pretty sure I've spent less than $50 putting this area together. I had Nathan add the curtain rod to display her art just this week and she is very proud of her "art wall."

And of course, outdoor access because, well, that's where the dirt is. I guess you could say we take the "environment as the third teacher" idea literally. I'm not sure what it is about dirt, but it makes her infinitely happy.

All in all, I am pretty proud of the space. It's serving it's purpose & she seems to enjoy it. While my husband disagrees and says our house looks like I'm running a preschool, I think it takes up a very small area and keeps things from exploding all over. If you know me, you know that my home is in a constant state of evolution. I rearrange my furniture way too often & just last week swapped curtains from one room to another. I guess I'm bored easily or just like to try new ideas. Any way, I'm sure this space will change, too, and I would love to hear (and see!) ideas you have on functional play areas, or ateliers.

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