Reggio inspired playroom

Reggio Playroom - Wildflower Ramblings

Where would I want to play?

Am I excited to show my children the world?

Is nature a part of their indoor play time?

Are they able to creatively express themselves in their play space?

What is beautiful?

What sparks creativity?

What begins the imagination?

Are my children challenged in, and exposed to, number sense learning?

Does their play space encourage whole literacy learning?

Racheous: Loveable Learning and An Everyday Story wrote a 30 Day series about Transforming Play for little ones.  These posts are thought-provoking, but as a fore-warning — they are also time-consuming.  Your ideas about your child’s playtime will completely change, and you will have to take steps to improve your home and parenting to coincide with your new thoughts and beliefs.  The environment in which your child plays becomes a teacher (“the third teacher”) and can guide the child’s play time just as much as the care-giver.

To begin, Rachel parents to do two simple tasks: to recognize what toys your children play with and how your child spends their free time.

And An Everyday Story’s posts on Culling Toys and Improving your Play Space lay out the why we are doing this.  We want our children to create and lead their own play time.

So creating a Reggio inspired playroom seemed to make sense.  I am still learning about the Reggio Emilia approach, and we have been implementing it in our Reggio art – I know this is the next place to start.

How should we spend our time?

What do I want my children to spend their time doing – their play time and their boredom time and their deliberate learning time?

What do I want to say to my children through the toys they are given?

What do I want to clean up at the end of the day?

Of course, I will continue with our home Tot School for May and Preschool for John, and I’m proud of this work with them.  But our deliberate learning time is far from the majority of our days.

What about the rest of the time?  What should we be doing?

Enjoying beauty.  Thriving in wonder.  Learning about God’s abundant love through his creation.

I am up for this challenge

I have tried in keeping with a Montessori toy set-up, and I’ve been mostly successful.  The problem was coming up with activities.  I love the Reggio approach to play — children can create their own activities, their own projects, with tools we set up that are catered to their interests, and not just the interests that I want for them.  Their true passions.  Watch and observe and tailor their materials to what they love.

There have been a couple of purges before this all out no-mercy brawl between me and my children’s toy collection.

I’ve cleaned out my closet into something I love.

I did some major basement purging this past spring (to include many plastic toys that aren’t pictured below!)

And bathroom purging and closet purging this month too.  De-clutter and be happy!  (I’m trying.)

So drastic measures aren’t foreign to me, and I usually welcome them — though I do tend to become (too) attached to material things.

To begin.

Does your playroom look like this?  Mine too.  It is stressful.  Confining.  Un-creative.  Maddening.  Just plain wrong.  The kids aren’t playing.  I’m unhappy.  It didn’t work.DSC00224

I began.

I told John (almost four) what we were doing.  {Giving away, throwing away, or organizing to the basement.}  We are going to give our toys to little boys and girls who don’t have many things to play with.  And this was very well received.  He was excited.  I threw out the total garbage, but I also have some very nice, well-kept items to bring to a homeless shelter.  And I will take John with me.

I let him choose his favorite Matchbox cars.  20 is better than 100.

We talked about what he played with and what he didn’t play with.  Of course along the way, they wanted to play with everything.  But anything we got rid of will literally never be thought of again.

DSC00227 These workbenches were gifts.  We used them at the beginning.  But now I will maybe keep one outside for a while, then probably toss.  Children deserve to have real toys don’t they?  Would you rather play with plastic?  Or metal? Glass? Wood? Cloth?  All things I have seen, known, read about, and believed in since reading about Montessori and Reggio learning.  But now I want to do it.  Live it and show and give my children things to love and respect.DSC00228

I tossed most of our plastic toy items because they aren’t being used enough to call them worth anything but a space waster (though we kept a few beloved items such as our kid vacuum and all the Legos).

We don’t have a “playroom”

We have a very small home.   John’s room is where the toys are and it is where the kids play.  They are free to bring things around the house, but they mostly end up in his room.  We like to leave our living room free of most toys (or cleaned up at the end of the day), but books are in every room.  On baskets, on shelves, these I will not cull down.

I wish John’s room had more light.  Light inspires.  So I will slowly begin to make more play invitations into our kitchen and huge window (my favorite part of our house).  I made a nature table in the kitchen and the kids love poking around and feeling and smelling the items.

So, because of our lack of huge space, we have to keep the items to a minimum.  Thus, why I am organizing and throwing away.  Scale down and organize.  Love it.  I am so, so happy.

Our new play set-up

Two things have become key in this new adventure.  Small parts and nature.  Make these available and the children will create their own worlds and learning!  It have seen it happen over the last week and I couldn’t have more joy watching my children’s minds grow in this shot amount of time where there is less in front of them.

Here are our new shelves:

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The shelves had more navy bins (in the before picture), so I had to put some of our navy bins in the basement.  I wanted to have more space for materials for the children — John is certainly tall enough to have materials on the third shelf.  I still have some toys in the bins, as well as various school or art materials, so they will have to be in the set-up . Our navy bins on top hold :

From the bottom, left to right, our bins now include : music bin, random beloved toys bin, learning toys, art and paper – school bin.

And on top, left to right, our laminated cards, our busy bags, our small parts bin, and our ball bin.

{This post contains affiliate links, please see my disclosure policy.} 

I focused on Reggio basics : simple, small parts, baskets, nature, glass, mirrors, wood, natural materials.

And on our shelves for May and John : wooden box with animal classification cards, basket of letters, basket of Schleich animals, triangle blocks, Melissa & Doug pattern puzzles, basket of pinecones.

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And our next set of shelves : lavendar and rocks, basket of cardboard rolls and tape, tin of clothespins and clothespin fairies, sticks and beads, books (we are over-flowing with books), our felt animals and alphabet letters for matching.

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On the floor is a mirror with a basket of marble gems.

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John was very excited to wash an old wood board that was in the garage — this is now used as a base for Lego or block creations.

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Our block station with mirror :

I set out our colored wooden and natural wooden blocks with a firm wooden base and a mirror back drop.  John isn’t as interested in these yet, but I’m hoping, since they are out now with a firm wooden surface, he may become interested.  We also put out his drum set, which he has played every day and loves again.

I would love to invest in some curved and odd shaped blocks, as well as make some tree blocks (our next project!)

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In John’s closet (not pictured), we still have two Trofast shelves with various blocks, magneatos, train set, etc in them.

To play and be inspired

Of course I will rotate this set up every week or two weeks.  We are adding different items as we go.  From outside or from my collection of small parts that I didn’t even know I had.

But this playroom is it.  All their toys.  Besides an ottoman full of stuffed animals, a couple drawers of toys in my daughter’s room, and some bigger toys for rare occasions and my craft (mess) area in the basement, that is it.  And this week we have been more relaxed and happy with the loss of busyness and the hope of creativity.

My daughter was eager to begin using the new materials.  She made this after about a minute.  But then she played for another twenty.  Eyes of a child.

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What I’ve observed since creating an intentional and beautiful toy set-up

It has been over a week since I “went crazy” (my husband’s words) and purged my children’s toys.  Here are the observations I’ve made since:

  • My son still loves his Legos.
  • I have not stepped on one ugly plastic toy in my son’s room or the living room in over a week.  Ahhh breath of fresh air.
  • My children are happy.
  • My daughter is taking her little treasures all around the house with her in her little Radio Flyer wagon.  I don’t mind seeing rocks or pinecones.
  • They have no idea that I just threw out more than three large bags of toys.
  • They are playing more because there is more room to play.
  • I feel peaceful and free.
  • In my son’s room, where they play mostly, they have free reign.
  • They are playing with items from God’s creation, inside, daily.

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This is wonderful.

Please follow my Reggio-inspired learning Pinterest board, for more inspiration (for me and you!) to implement Reggio Emilia ideals into your home!.

Follow Amy @ Wildflower Ramblings’s board Reggio-Inspired on Pinterest.

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