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”

It’s The Little Things (but like, really…)

Just a little in the moment PSA while I thought about it. Jars. They’re super useful and it always feels good to reuse vs throw them away. I love me a good pretty jam jar for art supplies or storing materials in for the play kitchen. But here’s the deal folks, you’ve got to remove the label properly. Unless you’re keeping it intact for play kitchen purposes, do not partially scrape it off and then call it a day. Aesthetically it is awful. To touch it is awful – so sticky. And it just catches dirt and dust. You wouldn’t want your lovely things displayed in something that, let’s face it, looks like rubbish, and neither do your kids.

Go that extra step and soak/scrub that puppy off. Still sticky? Invest in a product like Goo Gone – it will change your life AND remove all that icky gunky glue. I use it all the time to remove the tape and price tags from things I thrift, to remove the labels from bottles before I make bottle babies, as well as to remove the glue from jar labels.

Side note – here’s a link to some other DIY sticker removal ideas for those who prefer not to buy plastic/use chemicals.

Remember to think about your children’s environment as the third teacher and be thoughtful about the materials you add, including the storage vessels. This idea is a staple of the Reggio Emilia approach, the philosophy I was inspired by when teaching and that still permeates into the work I do now.

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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Add a little personality to your play kitchen!

Want to vamp up your kids play kitchen to make it feel more personal and a little less plasticky? Hit the thrift store this weekend (or even better on their sale days) and treasure hunt some secondhand items for your tiny human. These are some of my favorite thrifted items from my boys’ play kitchen.

From L to R, top to bottom:

  • Salad spinner (this was one of my favorite things as a kid, and TBH after this pic was taken, Pilot discovered the newer clear much faster spinner in the basement and this little vintage yellow one is officially on the out).
  • Measuring cups
  • Folding sieve (these things are just cool)
  • Scale
  • Flour sifter
  • Fondu pot (these are always on the smaller size and often have pretty wooden handle and knobs)
  • Empty tins (vintage ones are so lovely)
  • Tongs
  • Food canisters
  • Cloth and hand towel (perfect for washing and drying dishes and hands)

My Indoor Play Space | Summer 2019 Update

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I love change. My mind never switches off and is constantly thinking of all the different ways I could do things, including play space design (obvi). Not just for the folks I work with but also my own home. Our house is very small and over the last 3+ years we have worked hard towards living a more minimalist life. We aren’t there yet and we (like every other person with children) have junk, but with time, research, patience, and being able to work on so many other people’s homes, we are getting closer to creating a dream space for our family.

My boys (now 2.5 and 6.5) share a bedroom and also have a shared separate playroom. This means we can keep their room a zen toy-free space (with the exception of LEGO, but that’s for anther blog) and I can put all my brain power into creating the perfect play space for them. This room changes a lot – not just materials, but the layout too. As my boys have grown so have their needs and interests. I’ve also learnt a lot about what works and what doesn’t for them when they play alone, together, and with friends.

Our current set-up may be its best iteration yet. We added really simple DIY pine shelving around the room, which freed up a lot of floor space for play. I downsized what toys and materials are out, and we also created a gorgeous gallery wall with all the little pieces of art we could never quite find the right place for. It is absolutely my favorite room in the house.

…On a side note, this is how you should feel about your play space too! Children’s spaces should not be messy, junk-filled eyesores. This is not conducive to happy engaging focussed play, and it’s not nice for anyone in the house to look at. Businesses do a good job making us feel like kids need their own specific everything, from rugs to plastic colorful everything, when really all the magic, fun, and color should come from them – not the furniture or decor.