Play space PSA | Sharpen those pencils!

Play space #PSA: Keep your children’s pencils sharpened! Splash out on an electric sharpener and I guarantee your kids will fight over who gets to do it. Remember the materials you set out for your child are play invitations. You can’t expect your child to want to sit down and engage in art if the tools you put out for them are subpar and broken. Spend a minute each day checking your child’s art materials to make sure pencils are sharpened, markers have lids on and are working, glue isn’t empty etc. Value their work and play and they will learn to value themselves too. It really is that simple.

Lillie Foulé’s Bedroom/Play Space Makeover | October 2019

Lillie Foulé’s bedroom doubles as her play space (and at times as a play space for her baby brother too). Her mama reached out to me because she was feeling overwhelmed by the space, which had become cluttered and wasn’t fostering independent deep play. After an initial consultation it was evident that the main issue was LF had too much stuff.

Being her bedroom, the room needed to have a bed and a space to store all her clothes. It is also the access for her parent’s bedroom door, which is in the finished attic. Being her play space, there was a lot of toys, stuffies, art supplies, and lot of miscellaneous. Lillie Foulé is a vivacious creative four year-old, so finding a way to create a calming sleep space as well as an inviting play space was the challenge.

BEFORE and AFTER

Continue reading “Lillie Foulé’s Bedroom/Play Space Makeover | October 2019”

Play Invitations.

Imagine you’re hosting a dinner party. You’re setting the table and laying out the food before your guests arrive. Are you going to a) throw everything into a big pile in the middle and call it a day or b) carefully lay things out in a way that is aesthetically appealing for your guests? I’m going to take a wild guess that everyone will choose the latter, because no one is going to want to sit down and eat a meal that resembles a junk site. This reasoning and thought process should be applied to your children’s play spaces too.

Just like in the Reggio Emilia teaching philosophy that considers the environment the ‘third teacher’, the way you lay out your child’s toys and materials changes the way they play and interact with them. You are essentially setting up play invitations. Stop and go and take a look at your child’s toys. What sort of invitation are you giving your child? Is your space set up in a way that looks inviting to you? No? Then your child probably won’t be interested either. A lot of folks contact me because they are desperate for their children to play and engage independently in their spaces, but it’s never going to happen if you don’t spend the time creating beautiful, interesting play spaces for them.

So the next time you’re cleaning up and organizing their play space, instead of just dumping everything into a jumbled basket of toy soup (this goes for LEGOs too), spend the time to think about and create an environment that will invite and entice your child in to play and engage!

Tips for Organizing + Cleaning Your Play Space

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Lots of times for folks, the hardest part is knowing how to get started. When faced with a play space overflowing with baskets of tiny toys, it absolutely can feel insanely overwhelming, although I will admit these kinds of scenes also make me super excited to see – haha. But in saying this I still have piles of crap in my house that I should just sit down and spend an hour sorting through and I don’t.

It is a thousand times easier to sort and organize someone else’s stuff than your own, because in your house there is always so many other things to distract your time and brain. Just being a parent is enough of an excuse, and then to be a working parent, a partner, a pet owner, active community member, attempt self care etc etc. The thing is, once you get rolling on cleaning and organizing, you pick up traction and slowly things feel more manageable. I thought I’d share some of the common recommendations I give families who I work with, to help you start to gain some momentum. Continue reading “Tips for Organizing + Cleaning Your Play Space”

Easy DIY Revamped Basket Storage

Most things you find in a thrift store have had a past life (or lives!), and they have the scars and battle wounds to prove it. Baskets are no different, and sometimes the best ones are in need of a little plastic surgery before they can go out in the world again and look their best. My skill and time level for major fixing would be zero, but I have found a fun, easy, and super cheap way to breathe a bit of life back into tired baskets with broken handles and frayed edging. For example the larger basket in the images below had lost all the wicker on the handle and the metal had become quite rusty.

Enter cheap yarn or embroidery thread, and a handy dandy pom pom maker. It’s as simple as wrapping the handle nice and thickly with the yarn/thread, and then adding a pom pom for good measure at the end. It’s easy to tie off the beginning tightly but can be a bit trickier on the end side of things (or at least I have always found that to be the case), so I’ll often add some super glue over my final knot and then tie my pom pom over that to hide the evidence.

VOILA! A little bit of extra life and a whole lot more pizzaz in a beautiful old basket.

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There’s more to life than crayons.

Crayons. I’m going to be honest with y’all, I just don’t like them (writing this feels so un-American, like saying I don’t like apple pie or puppies). But it’s the truth. They aren’t satisfying to draw with, they break easily, they often end up as a toddler snack, and you always find 100s of them not being used in buckets and bins at people’s houses. There are other ways to live, people. Let me shed some light.

  • First up, it’s obviously OK if you don’t share my controversial feelings. But I do ask that if you’re going to go down the crayon path, at least invest in good quality ones. At the most basic, go with Crayola. Throw away all those random crappy ones that come from restaurants and coloring kits. They’re beyond rubbish.
  • Even better (and actually crayons I CAN get behind), get your tiny human some beeswax ones. They make a lovely rich mark and are environmentally friendly. Stockmar is a brand that does some great ones.
  • If you have a lot of broken Crayola crayons, consider melting them down and creating something a bit more visually appealing. I know using broken crayons can be great for encouraging pincer grip, but nobody needs a gazillion tiny pieces of crayons laying around their house. I have a gem shaped silicone mold I use for this, and I use similar shades when choosing what colors to melt together.

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  • Finally think outside the box and invest in something other than crayons. My favorites include Kwik Stix (tempera paint sticks), CrayPas (oil pastel/crayon hybrid), and oil pastels.

Building a Family Play Space | September 2019

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With the arrival of autumn and my birthday rolling around again, I decided my wish for the year was the creation of an outdoor sunken fire pit with wrap around bench seating (that’s reasonable, right?). Our back and front yards have been created entirely with our children in mind, but I wanted something Thomas and I could enjoy and use without the kids. And a place where we could enjoy the outdoors together and with friends, even when the days and nights get colder.

When creating an outdoor play space plan for a family recently, I came across this fire pit design as an inspiration for what they could build. I loved it so much however, that I kept thinking about it and it was the inspiration for what we built (or I guess I should say, what Thomas built). While perhaps not what I would typically call a play space, I wanted to include it on this blog because creating spaces for the entire family to enjoy together is so important too!

Unlike most of our projects, we bought new wood vs reclaimed for it (we just needed a lot and very definite pieces, plus we wanted it to feel like a seamless extension from our deck vs an add on).

My hope was that we could build it in a weekend (ha!), but the digging down in very hard dry soil took hours and hours, and honestly these things just take time. However two weeks later, after lots of late nights after work and continentally tacking away at it, we have a finished project! It will be stained in the coming weeks now the wood has dried out, but until it is getting quite a lot of use!

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The inspiration photo (source unknown)…

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