How to Design a Cool Playroom That's Actually Made for Play
What parent doesn’t fall for those brightly colored, nicely coordinated, lovely little playrooms you find in those design mags? Everything is tucked away in their rightful spot. The most adorable, delicate toys are on display. And the rug somehow matches the chairs, the toy bins, and the paintings on the wall.
But remember this... a playroom is for play! And play is a critical component of your child’s development. So, if you love coordinating colors and picking out the perfect accent pillows, by all means, go ahead!
But if you’re going through the trouble to make the perfect playroom, you have to make sure it’s also functional – not simply picture perfect. You want it to be conducive to play and to get your kiddos creative juices going. That means, it has to be engaging and dynamic.
Promote Open-Ended and Imaginative Play
How many one-trick pony type toys have you seen go stale? While the cute little battery-operated kitty that meows and purrs is incredibly darling in the store, consider how long it will be before that thing gets old. Keep these types of playthings (if you must have them!) on your upper shelves or plan on them being more of a decorative element.
Instead, keep all open-ended toys right within reach. Legos, blocks, tinker toys... anything that has to do with building will be used again and again in a variety of scenarios. One day your little one will be building stables, another, rocket ships, or maybe even a medieval castle with a damsel in distress.
Figurines that aren’t based on commercial characters also lend themselves well to imaginative play. Animals, aliens, people and robots make for great fun and help build language skills as your child plays out various intriguing plots. Tea sets and foodie toys are also wonderful for pretend play. Costumes and props are great too. Though the key here is to keep them generic (Think: Princess, not Elsa!) and have a variety so you’re not typecasting your little one!
For toddlers, a station dedicated to Waldorf or Montessori type toys that develop motor skills is a must! You can offer up play dough and a melon baller one week, and tweezers and beads the next. Keep it fresh and challenge your kiddo!
Keep Board Games out of Reach
For toys and games that require more than one player, stack them up on your higher shelves. Unless you have multiple kiddos and they’re all at an age where they can follow the rules and play fairly, your games are at risk!
Not only could dice and other small pieces easily make a mad dash for freedom in that hard to reach corner, your kids might end up not following the rules. And that defeats an important aspect of board games! You will have to retrain and reteach them how to play, making game night more instructional than fun.
Working Around Works in Progress
While we would all like to have every last plaything in its proper place, the reality is, your kid may have just worked super hard at building their very best African habitat, moon base, or bake shop. Clean up time shouldn’t have to mean disassembling that marvel.
Instead, have a designated area for works in progress. That way, your kids can pick up and play where they left off. Or perhaps, taking a break might give them a new perspective on their creation and the desire to improve (another critical skill!).
If your kid’s masterpiece is too delicate to move or you like to keep things more dynamic, just whip out a roll of masking tape. Use it to delineate your children’s zone for safe-keeping and get them cleaning up all the rest of the items instead!
Keeping the Décor Lively and Personal
To keep things interesting, consider dedicating a large space (or an entire wall!) for their daily art work. You can simply hang up an oversized chalkboard or paint the wall with chalkboard paint. Don’t worry; you’re not limited to a stark black surface. You can pretty much find them in every color!
This way, your kids can freely express themselves without going through a bunch of paper. They’ll be keeping the décor fresh and the room will be alive with their latest ideas. Plus, it lends itself well to new forms of pretend play. Think: teacher, mad scientist, or evil inventor. As a bonus, getting them to draw on a vertical surface helps build their upper body strength and fine motor skills.
Labeling for Quick Access and Easy Clean Up
Do yourself and your kiddos a favor! Make sure you have proper labels on all buckets, bins, and containers. Use chalkboard labels so as your kids outgrow certain toys or as collections expand beyond the limits of their bins, you can quickly adjust.
If you label well, all toys will have their proper place. That way, when your little one is looking for their delicate gazelle or the pink frosted donut with sprinkles on top, they know where to go. You won’t have all your bins and buckets overturned in search of that one specific must-have. And when it comes to clean up time, your kids will sort and tuck away their stash in their rightful places.
Make It Dynamic and Ever Changing
Static playrooms lead to routines. Your kids will reach for the same toys and play the same games on a daily basis without trying out new experiences. They’ll miss out on exploring different corners of their imagination. They’ll shy away from challenges. And they’ll quite simply get bored.
Change it up. Make sure to move around bins and boxes so they’re not constantly playing with the same things. The puzzle that was conquered last month will feel fun again after it’s been out of sight for a while. Got some great learning toys, but your kid keeps reaching for the Barbie? Just make a switch and after some resistance, you might find your child loving the educational ones more. Whatever you do, keep it fresh and fun!
What are your plans for the kids’ playroom? Share your ideas with us!
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