Play spaces work best when they inspire children to play in meaningful ways, encourage them to value what resources they have, help them to maintain the space in an organised and tidy way and allow for learning. celebratePLAY

We have 6 actionable tips to share with y’all, that have helped us to create a tidy and engaging PLAYspace, with the confidence it can work for you too.

1. DECLUTTER & SIMPLIFY when starting a BIG project in the home such as the PLAYspace, decluttering and simplifying resources is a great strategy that will serve you immediately. In the PLAYspace, collate all of the toys. Look at what toys you would like to keep, need replacement batteries, are broken beyond repair and sort them accordingly. You will be left with toys that are engaging for your learners. Leanne from Organising the Four of Us offers some wonderful ideas for simplifying the home and the sort you can start right now.

2. STORAGE SOLUTIONS – finding and creating storage solutions that best fit your PLAYspace and resources whether it be a shelf under an overhanging kitchen bench or a cube storage unit in the corner of the living space, or storage systems in a dedicated playroom is critical to creating tidiness and engagement. Storage needs to be practical in order to fit resources and with easy access for little learners, but it also needs to offer you the feeling of tidiness. Sometimes tidiness presents itself as a feeling rather than an actual physical appearance.

3. LABELS – labelling items and spaces can be a huge blessing when working with little learners, especially in the PLAY arena. Apart from making a space look organised and tidy, the ease of finding things and saving time when looking for things, they can also provide our little ones with incidental learning opportunities eg. Reading, matching, sorting and helping with packing away. There are lots of different types of labels that can be used with little learners from photos of them, photos of others, clip art, real life images, borders, with text and/or without text. Labels can be created with tape, paper, card, vinyl, stickers, laminated cards, and/or a mix. They can be secured in a variety of ways too, pending their location. Each style will vary from learner to learner and family to family. As with most things, finding what works best for your family is key.

4. DROPBOX – It is a box (fabric box from our original toy rotation) located in our daily PLAY space and stores the loose items (aka stray items that don’t belong in that space) until they can be packed away in their rightful spot, later that day. This gives our learners the opportunity to help others, fill buckets, take responsibility for their belongings and playspace, set goals, feel a sense of achievement aswell as develop an awareness of organisation and tidiness for their PLAYspace.

5. TOY ROTATION – a toy rotation is a great strategy if you find the amount of toys in the PLAYspace are overwhelming and reducing engagement. This is a system that has you with a set of resources on a shelving system of sorts in the PLAYspace and the rest of the resources stored in another location. The resources on rotation are usually based on the interests of the learner/s.  Pending your learners needs and interests, these toys can be rotated daily/weekly/fortnightly/monthly.

6. PACK AWAY ROUTINES – establishing Pack Away routines can help with maintaining a tidy yet engaging PLAYspace.

Fact-children generally love playing in what adults consider mess and they don’t usually want to spend time packing away when it could be better spent playing (aka making more mess).

  • Things you can to try:
  • racing online timers (make packing away a form of play by creating a race against an online timer- toys are to be packed away before the timer has gone off)-READY, SET, GO!!
  • colour code or label where the toys belong. Eg. Book box is labelled with words and/or pictures/photos
  • create a visual timetable so children can see the expectation ahead of time
  • a pack away song in a new language
  • favourite song to be used at pack away time only