Creating a playroom that fosters imagination - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 02-15-2005, 11:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My kids seem incredibly bored lately. It might very well be cabin fever with winter dragging on and all- but I've noticed my youngest (2 next month) just wants to play what her sister is playing and my oldest (4 in June) is moving out of manipulatives and into more imaginary play. Imaginary play is a very new interest to her, so I really want to nurture this concept.

Right now our playroom is set up with low shelves and primarily manipulatives. Very Montessori in style. Until now it has been pretty much the only thing that held any interest to my oldest. I'd like to bring things into the playroom that encourage a more imaginative type of play.

BUT... we're working on not spending so much money impulsively : I'm wondering what creative ideas we can think of to bring their playroom to life, giving her the tools for imaginary play without buying a ton of products. A playscape is something we've added to our "wish list" but aren't going to go out and buy right now.

SO FAR:
~We are going to bring their dress up trunk from upstairs and put it downstairs in the playroom. This is their new favorite toy, but it isn't as readily available as it should be.
~With it is a big mirror I'll secure to the wall.
~We put a stocked play kitchen and small table in the adjoining room (dining room).
~They have some gardening tools and watering cans I can put out until the season comes.
~I'd like to keep one shelf of manipulatives out.

I would like to:
~make some kind of play space- like a playscape- but without buying a wooden stand. We put it on our list, but in the mean time I figure I should be able to put something together. I have a ton of fabric (even silk) and I can sew. Any ideas?
~Maybe put some things in the space that aren't "toys" but will encourage imaginary play.

That is all I've got. We've got a lot of room in their playroom though, and I'd like some more ideas. Things I can do to create a place they can create their own games and activities instead of just "stations" of manipulative play.

To be honest, my background is more Montessori in style than waldorf in style so I really feel sort of lost in creating a more imagination friendly space. Help?
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#2 of 18 Old 02-15-2005, 12:26 PM
 
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i have no background in this whatsoever.....other than my own personal experience some 25 yrs ago.

how about instead of a wooden stand of some sort of appliance box? You could likely get a big box on freecycle or at an appliance store in town. your kiddo could help decorate and turn it into whatever sort of thing she wanted.


are they into puppets? Kwik sew has a pattern for a puppet theater that you use in a doorway -- get a spring mounted curtain rod to hang it up.

Kristin -- mom of Erin (11/5/02) and Leah (9/29/05)
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#3 of 18 Old 02-15-2005, 12:27 PM
 
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: always looking for new ideas!

eta- have you thought of making a canopy with your fabrics?

something like this?
http://hearthsong.com/hearthsong/product.do?section_id=0&bc=1005&pgc=335&cmvalue=HS |0|Normal%20Search%20Result|P1

btw there was a thread in sewing and crafts a few months back about making these.

Blissful Mama to DD-(5), DS-(6) and someone new due in November!
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#4 of 18 Old 02-15-2005, 12:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think something like that canopy is what I had in mind. I'll go look up that thread in S&C- thanks for the tip!

ETA: I just looked and that looks really really easy to make. I think with 8 yards Organza I could make one the size I would want and I'm sure i have at least that much upstairs. Then I could dye it to, which is always fun. I'd only have to buy ribbon and the metal hoop which is a very small cost.

For anyone else looking for that thread- it is here: http://www.mothering.com/discussions...ghlight=canopy
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#5 of 18 Old 02-15-2005, 12:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Puppets- they might be. We haven't ever really gotten into them. But since I sew i bet I could make some puppets... and I'm sure we could create a stand of some sort. Thanks for the great idea!
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#6 of 18 Old 02-15-2005, 02:29 PM
 
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I'll do my best to describe our little playroom - it's right off of the living room with a big window and birdfeeders hung outside it.

The walls are are colorwashed, pinky / peachy with yellow undertones. Across the top of the window is draped a light-pink gauze and above it several pieces of (fake!) ivy around an old (real) vine. I have a home-made mobile of rainbow-dyed fairies in one corner hanging from the ceiling. In the other corner I have a large bare branch ("tree") secured with stones in a terracotta pot (wrapped in a purple dyed gauze) - this changes with the seasons; right now white roving angels / winter fairies are hanging from it as well as snowflakes my son and I made.

Just below the "tree" is our wooden castle set with several people (knights, king, queen, some horses, wooden animals, Robin Hood and Little John) and next to the castle is a little simple wooden cottage with a mama, daddy, little boy and baby girl living in it (I can see we'll soon need a bigger dollhouse, especially as my 2-year olddd gets more into this type of play). To the right of that is a large wicker basket of Thomas the Tank Engine trains, rails and bridges (the wooden train table never would have worked for us - my children likes to create *huge* meandering track configurations).

Against one wall I have two wooden shelves mounted one above the other; they're stocked with baskets which hold stones, shells, multi-colored wool roving, soft fingerpuppets, little felt animals and gnomes, simple wooden shapes of people and animals, little cars (wooden and Hot Wheels-type) and a container of pattern blocks. Under the botom shelf is another large basket with larger wooden vehicles (trucks, trains, construction vehicles and boats). Next to that is a large basket of Lincoln Logs and the huge : vintage bus grandma bought the kids one year.

Further along that wall (and behind the door) is our dress-up corner: a tall basket with hats of all kinds (firefighter, construction, cowhand, clown, magician, Robin Hood, pirate, masks of all kinds (homemade), homemade Peter Pan shoes with bells, a small jewelry box with costume jewelry, purses and pin-on buttons, several crowns (homemade felt crowns) and one bright pink feathery, tinsely princessy thing which grandma gave. Above the dress-up basket is a coat rack for our dress-up clothes (capes in all sizes and colors, silk butterfly wings, a cowhand vest and pirate vest. Our wooden sword and shield have a place of honor on the wall.

In our playhouse corner I have two wooden playstands flanking a wooden sink / stove combo (the oven doubles as storage space for our pots and pans). Below each playstand is a wooden cradle (each sleeps two babies) and there is a cash register, wooden mobile phone, drying rack, 5 wooden eggs in an eggbasket, felt- and wooden food basket, wooden salad bowls and small tray of utelsils on the playstand shelves. Against one wall we mounted a small unentil rack which holds things like wire whisks, slotted spoon, soup ladle, spatula, etc. A wooden ironing board, iron, metal washtub and basket of playsilks are also in this space.

It sounds like a huge amount of toys, but it's not. We don't own much more than this (with the exception of books, arts supplies, games, a few puzzles and my son's Lego - on another floor in the house).

This playroom is a huge hit with my children (2 and 6) and all children who visit. It's a beautiful light-filled space in which my children spend hours in happy pretend play, but I think the key to its success is that it's right off of our living room (main living space). I have found that they want to be near me during the day and this allows them to be.

Michelle
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#7 of 18 Old 02-15-2005, 04:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hey thanks! Our playroom is right off the living room as well. Between it and the dining room actually. We chose that room because it was close to both areas my DH and I might spend time in when we're not in the playroom with them.

Dh looked at the playscape and thinks we might actually have enough wood in the garage to make one... we'll see if that actually HAPPENS though. LOL

I liked a lot of your ideas... I think I'll go over them again and try to pick out a few we could try without spending a lot and see where it goes from there. Thanks!
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#8 of 18 Old 02-15-2005, 04:29 PM
 
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A few things that I didn't notice mentioned:

I made a big felt board. I used an old chalk board and just covered the board with black felt and painted the frame. I cut up lots of different shapes in different colors and sizes. Both boys love it. My older ds (almost 4) likes to make different pictures out of the shapes and then he creates stories out of them. My younger ds (almost 1.5 years) just thinks its neat that he can stick the shapes up on the wall and they stay!! It provides a lot of fun for them.

Puppets are great, and bean bags and balls are always fun. We generally keep some old boxes or intersting shaped containers around for them to play toss games.

Art supplies are a must for them around here. I always keep crayons, paper, glue, and some interesting things to glue onto paper easily available. They can do arts and crafts any time they feel like it.

Musical instruments are also popular. I keep a big box full of anything musical for them to use whenever they want. We make moraccas out of beads or beans and old peanut butter jars (plastic) or water bottles. Anything with bells and any kind of container with a drum stick works too. (they also have an old organ we picked up at a garage sale that they can play if they want). They have marching band parades on a daily basis.

Just a couple more ideas


 

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#9 of 18 Old 02-15-2005, 08:20 PM
 
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I particpated in a Waldorf play group, and we made and sewed many of our toys. There were some good books for patterns and ideas that were seasonal, too. They were "A Child's Year" (I don't remember the name of the author), "Toy making with Children" by Freya Jaffke, and "Feltcraft making dolls, gifts, and toys" by Petra Berger. All three had great ideas that you could incorporate into your playroom. Some of the activities are sewing, knitting, and basic wood working. We also made animals out of sculpting bees wax, nature tables, winter gardens (clay, moss, rocks), and watercolor painting.
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#10 of 18 Old 02-15-2005, 08:30 PM
 
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My dd turned five in Dec. and is very into imaginative play.

I second (and third) the play silk idea. A variety of normal-sized silks in different colors are GREAT... my dd uses the green silk as grass, the blue silk as a river, the red silk as a tulip field, etc. etc.... then they turn into capes, fairy dresses, whatever she wants to dress up as.

Natural wooden blocks are great fun. Like, the kind that are cut into different sizes and still have their bark on. She builds houses for her wooden "people"... they are vaguely shaped like people, with cylinder-like bodies and a wooden ball for the head... and they ride in and out of their "tree" houses on little wooden traincars. Surrounded by the silks as scenery, it really entertains her.

It's really easy to make felt people, fairies, and gnomes. They always come in handy.

Stuff for "babies" is always fun, too. Ya know, rocker, basinnet, sling, that sort of thing.

HTH!
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#11 of 18 Old 02-19-2005, 01:01 PM
 
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What about painting a chalkboard on one of the walls? It would be cheap, and foster creativity. It would also be simple to do, just mask off a large rectangle and give the wall a couple of coats of the chalkboard paint.

Or, you could let them draw/decorate the actual walls. A coat of Kilz and a coat of paint would cover anything up again.
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#12 of 18 Old 02-21-2005, 07:26 PM
 
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michelle1k~ is the tree you mentioned a big tree, or a tabletop size tree? I have been wanting to do something like this. Thanks for all of the great ideas in this thread!

~Joan, Happy mom to 2 beautiful kiddos, one new puppy and 2 lovely felines
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#13 of 18 Old 02-21-2005, 08:33 PM
 
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:

Looking at ideas for a playroom here too. I'm about ready to give up on DD ever sleeping in her room, so I want to take out the bed and just make it a playroom.

For feltboards (sorry if this is a dumb question) does all felt just stick together? Or do you need velcro on some pieces or certain kinds of felt?

Would chalkboard paint work on bumpy (trowled) walls?

Monica , DH :cop , DD (8) , DS1 (5) , DS2 (2/09) , and the pup
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#14 of 18 Old 02-21-2005, 09:29 PM
 
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The tree is a very large branch - about 4 ft high and secured a heavy terracotta pot.

Monkaha - although you might be able to paint chalkboard paint over bumpy walls it will be a frustrating excercise to try and draw a nice picture on an uneven surface. How about painting a large piece of masonite and attaching it to one wall?

Warmly,
Michelle in NY
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#15 of 18 Old 02-23-2005, 10:43 PM
 
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I love the tree idea and already planning to make a small fabric one for ds nature table I think I may also do a felt board on the wall eventually too. that sounds great! thanks so much for the ideas!

we just painted an old train table top w/ chalboard paint. it came out great and only cost us about $3 as we got the table free from my SIL who was going to throw it out!

btw one thing we are doing right now with ds playroom is we bought precut unfinished wood 3d shapes (animals, plane,car, train, stars,moon,etc) at Micahels...they were .99 each and we are painting them and attaching hangers to the back to hang in there..very cute and were pretty inexpensive too! we were originally going to do the alphabet but found these instead.

Blissful Mama to DD-(5), DS-(6) and someone new due in November!
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#16 of 18 Old 02-26-2005, 11:44 PM
 
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If you want to do a chalkboard wall but have trouble finding chalkboard paint (the only kind I can get in our area is spray paint and it makes a BIG stink!) you can just use regular old flat latex in a medium to dark color. Works great!
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#17 of 18 Old 02-27-2005, 03:43 PM
 
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bean and bella love the
dress up trunk
puppets
play kitchen
books
and occassional games and puzzles.

I keep the puzzles and games in a closet and when they are getting bored I bring out one or two at a time.

In addition they LOVE to take the cushions off the furntiure and make forts, castles, etc.
That is a BIG hit every day.

Bean loves to draw and she draws for long periods of times. We have many crafts that I keep away and bring out throughout the day.

I find that keeping things tidy and rotating what we have makes it all the more interesting and fun for the girls.

They enjoy coming down in the morning to find the room arranged a bit differently with 4 or so stations set up for them. Then we play, it gets trashed! LOL
and after lunch we clean up and do crafts, read, etc.

My advice would be to keep the toys that are "out" to a minimum and just rotate them as the children get bored *(maybe once a week or a daily? depends on your children)

This makes clean up much easier too.
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#18 of 18 Old 03-10-2005, 12:39 PM
 
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http://www.marthastewart.com/page.jh...252&navLevel=2

we made ds a feltboard this weekend using these directions..it came out great and cost nothing!

Blissful Mama to DD-(5), DS-(6) and someone new due in November!
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