Kids love toys because toys equal fun times, but what they don't know is that they can learn a lot from play too which helps them developmentally, an added bonus. Having an organised and fun play room in your home will spark their imagination, encourage them to interact with others, introduce letters and numbers to improve their language skills and stimulate development of all the senses to name just a few benefits. But how do you plan and organise a play room? Here are some ideas to get your play room sorted.
Planning your play room
Think about which room you could use as your new play room or even just a corner shared with another space ie home office, family room, dining room, bedroom. Once you decide on which space is going to work for you, take stock of what you already have in the way of toys and ways to store them.
As with other parts of your home, on a regular basis do an audit of what your kids are currently playing with. Even if the area that you're going to use for the playroom is big, you can be sure that things will tend to accumulate.
Sort through everything and declutter anything that is broken and cant be fixed, has missing pieces, they no longer want to play with or haven't played with for a while. It’s time to move on the outgrown toys to other friends, charity shop or sell online. Consider too the ages of your kids, toddlers are going to have different needs than a school aged child or a teen, for example floor space verses desk space, large plastic toy storage verses multi-game consoles.
You will need to have different kinds of storage options like a couple of bins, baskets, shelves, and even some wall storage. The smaller the area you are using for the play room, the smarter you need to be with the storage. So, instead of extra large bins and baskets, try using smaller ones that can be mixed with other boxes.
- Wall Storage
Wall storage tends to work well for bookshelves as well as for keeping games, DVDs, CDs, among others. For some inspiration check out our Pinterest board
For larger items, try utilsing under beds, next to book shelves or at the end of the bed.
Most kids have favourite toys and ones they use regularly so keep those within easy reach. If you’re going for a neat and tidy feel using units with doors help with hiding the mess.
- Toy Boxes
A great way to organise a play room and keep it tidy is to place toys into storage boxes. Group like toys and keep them all together you can even add a label. Depending on the toy you can use multi sized boxes, or compartmentalise if they’re really small, ie Lego.
- Built in
If the budget and your circumstances allow or you’re handy, building in your storage in the form of a bench seat with large drawers underneath can create much storage space and alleviate the need to have boxes sitting out. It doubles as sitting/reading room too.
- Craft Station
If you’ve got little ones and they enjoy art and craft time, consider having a craft caddy handy. Or some “Maker Drawers”, with various supplies available to bring out their creative side.
Keeping a station well stocked with different equipment is essential to ensure they are engaged for the activity you have organised.
Think about including:
- Washable coloured markers
- Coloured pencils
- Children’s safety scissors
- Washable glue sticks
- Googly eyes
- Old magazines or catalogues
- Coloured paper
- blank cards
- water paints
- White copy paper
Keeping it clean & tidy
Set a family rule that only one activity/group of toys is allowed at a time, and must be packed away before another is bought out to play with.
Set a specific time each day for your children to pack up, and get them in the habit of tidying up their own toys. This creates a daily habit for the kids that they get used to and saves you having to do it all alone.
- Make it fun
Most children are much more willing to participate in tidying when it’s fun for them. Try creating a “pack-up” song, playing music, offer extra stars for the rewards chart, or set a timer to beat the buzzer to get the job done quicker. It’s a much more effective method than repeated asking or simply ordering them around.
- Quarterly clean up
Once a quarter move all the toys/boxes/furniture etc out and give all the remaining surfaces a scrub, dust the skirts and vacuum/mop the floor. If there are any marks on the walls get onto those too. You could also wash the internal windows while access is easier.
Borrow dont buy
Have you ever considered joining a toy library, why? What are the benefits? There are many reasons why families decide to become members of their local toy library. You get to borrow from hundreds of quality toys and expose your child to a greater range of play experiences. Each visit you can contribute to your child's development and save money by borrowing toys each week rather than buying. If you have a party coming up you can hire party toys at great prices. Not to mention the benefit to the environment by reducing toy waste to landfill. Closer to home you can reduce clutter by borrowing large toys such as bikes, scooters, kitchens, basketball hoops and slides. They only stay at your house for a couple of weeks, and then swap over to better meet your childs stages of play and development. Socially many find toy libraries a great place to meet other local parents and contribute to your local community in general.
To find a toy library near you go here
Play room Furniture That Kids Will Love
Now it’s time to think about what kind of furniture you might like to include in your play room. It is best, if you have room, to consider creating different zones designated for different activities. For example including table/desk space, sufficient sitting areas and flexible room options.
- Rugs and playmats
If your play room doesn't have carpet, think about what playroom flooring would be appropriate underfoot. Can you incorporate a floor rug or play mats for floor time? They will allow your kids to play on the ground without getting cold and they will definitely be more comfortable.
Then consider having an area where you can include some adults sized seats. This inclusion will allow you to participate in their games or be present with them. The humble bean bag is versatile in this regard. It’s a nice spot to snuggle up and read a book with your child. Adult seating also comes in handy if you have grandparents visiting or baby sitting.
Having a bookcase is some what an essential element. Books afterall help kids to use their imagination and it’s an important learning skill for life. Not only does reading stories to your kids and with them increase their love for reading, it also motivates them to read on their own when the time will come. Let them read to you even from a young age kids can use the pictures to tell their own version of the story and then help identify letters and words.
- Table and chairs for kids
Having a table and some chairs specially designed for little people will help them feel like this space is comfortable and just for them. Store bought table and chairs usually tend to have bright, appealing colours, but think outside the box and get creative with your “chair” ideas, and what you could make a table out of.
- Workstation / desk
Even if your kids are little at the moment, it's a good idea to include a desk or a workstation where the child can sit and do other creative work using different materials. Before you know it they will be school age and a desk is a great place to focus on getting their homework done.