Making A Playful Learning Space

September 18th, 2011 by zoe 9 Comments

With growing children in a smallish house I have to stay on top of how we play. I am constantly rethinking our space and shifting things around for the children’s ever-changing growth and development.
Recently I became inspired by the realization the my boys don’t so much play with “toys” but instead prefer to “work” at tasks. It made me think about all the learning they do at home and how much better they play when their “tools” are set up properly. Clean, forward facing presentation makes all the difference.

I have been super inspired by how creating a this desk has totally changed the way I work. I simply love to sit there and be productive, I feel clear and motivated by having a well designed space. After reading this new book Playful Learning by Mariah Bruehl I hoped to create a learning space  for the children that would be similarly inspiring.  Her website is chock full of ideas!  Excited, I set out to commandeer this corner of the living room to be our new Playful Learning Space.

First I painted the walls in the entire living room a hue of gray that I “mostly” like.  A story that involved MANY paint samples and those late night “it’s half painted but I’m not sure I like it” doubts. But that is a story for another day!

We are still working out the types of learning toys we will welcome into our new space but currently there is

  • A basket for nature watching, binoculars,magnifying lenses bug boxes and nature guide books.
  • A manual typewriter, bought at a tag sale for $5,  for finding letters and making words come together.
  • Sketch paper and an array of colored pencils, crayons and pastels displayed at their level for self inspired art projects.
  • A toy shelf that partitions our learning space -  for holding the favorite toys of the moment.
  • A nature table bowl, made with the guidance of my friend Kristin, using a technique similar to this.
  • A globe for — seeing the world.
  • Shelves for storing our science books.
  • Math and sorting games printed and found here.
  • A tiny vase for holding the feathers we collect on our nature walks.
  • A magnetic strip with metal clips for hanging our freshly composed projects.
  • Lots of handmade  journals for them to fill with their thoughts and stories.

I moved most of the more commercial toys to the children’s room and Waldorf -ed out this downstairs space. It makes a HUGE difference in the nature of the games invented. Because even though batman is a “good guy” he still seems to start a lot of trouble at our house!

All in all, these changes have shifted the energy in the room and the way the boys play together. They seem to find a project and get started at it all by themselves.

They seem more focused, peaceful, engaged and …..  they clean up all by themselves!!!!

We simply LOVE it.


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9 Responses

  1. Beth-Marie says:

    Just another reason why you should paid for being you.

  2. Erika P says:

    You are awesome. This gives me some ideas for re-doing our kid activity spaces, which are jumbled and messy and contain way too many loose, tiny pieces for a family that will soon (*knock on wood*) have a baby and a 5 year old who need to share those spaces.

  3. Katie says:

    Such a wonderful space. I’m especially digging that table. I would love to have a creative space like that.

    • zoe says:

      Thanks Katie
      — the table is a seriously old school lab desk that is still giving after a hundred years .. complete with fossilized gum stuck to the bottom!

  4. Hi there, Fantastic Blog article! I have just retweeted this post to my readers.

  5. Kristin H. says:

    Thanks for the inspiration to organize some of our more creative playthings. Our interesting stuff tends to be scattered everywhere. The manual typewriter is a great – we use ours all the time.

    • zoe says:

      I have been having huge success (which I deem as focused quiet painting for over an hour!!) with the new set up. With yet another week of rain I hope you guys are having fun over at your house getting into the creative groove!

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