When my little one turned two, I started moving and adjusting his play area to meet his constant growth and development. His jumper and walker were the first to be stowed away in the closet and being replaced with more musical activity toys. He is three-and-half year old now and our play area is getting some makeovers every now and then. Here are ideas on organizing your toddler’s play area or as we call it “working space”.
- Create Space: It is important you create a dedicated space for the play area. This helps your toddler understand his territory and exploring his space.
- Use Mats or Carpets: Use play mats or carpets as a base. This helps you distinguish the space. I use the foam play mat in my son’s play area.
- Set Up Writing Equipment: Toddlers at this age are very eager to write and learn the alphabets that they know. They are also keen on practicing their drawing skills. Setting up writing boards, writing desk, boggie board are great. I use this double sided easel style writing board (white board and chalk board) from Ikea for my son. Boggie boards are portable and this one from Amazon is amazing as it has different color changing throughout the board. It is also easy to use and portable. If you are on a quick grocery run, not a bad idea to carry it in the car. I use VTech Touch & Learn Activity Desk as for writing and he can also play on the activity sheets and learn alphabet recognition, numbers, colors, shapes, parts of the body and fruits and vegetable which come with the desk.
- Book Shelf: Toddlers are very curious and love to read, at their age really looking at the pictures. I find my son improving his vocabulary by reading books. Toddler books are very colorful with small and simple sentences. They are great source of learning and education. Setting up his book shelf was one of my favourite things in the play area. He is away from the screen and is spending more time interacting with the characters from the books he read. I use this colorful bookshelf from Amazon. It fits anywhere between 20-30 books depending on the size and thickness.
- Coloring Supplies: World of infants and toddlers revolve around colors. They are fascinated by colorful things, toys and objects. Be sure to have assortment of coloring supplies for your little ones. I have variety of colors including crayons, pencil colors, washable markers, mess-free markers, water colors, washable paint, sketch pens and a variety of paint brushes. Additionally, I keep drawing paper, construction paper, coloring books, coloring activity sheets and books, drawing paper roll and coloring paper roll. I buy most of these supplies from Dollarama. I have provided Amazon links here if you would like to know which products I use. These are great quality and easy to use. For organizing and sorting his crayons, pencil colors and markers. All paints are stored in his art and craft drawer beside his play area.
- Craft Supplies: My son and I do a lot of activities in his play area. So I keep some basic craft supplies for him. I have a dedicated drawer to store his art and craft supplies. Basic craft supplies you can keep handy for any activity would include glue stick, clear glue, cello-tape, construction tape, pair of scissors (keep this away for your child and do not let him use one), you may invest in blunt tip kids scissors, but always watch your child which he works with scissors to avoid cuts or other accidents.
- Activity Display Wall: After any paper based activity, I display it on my son’s activity wall. I bought a cork board from Dollarama and put it up on the wall using a double-sided tape. I use push pins to display his art/craft. I also bought a metal board and put it up beside the cork board so he can play with his magnetic alphabets on the board. It is a big board, so I sometimes use the space to display his additional art/crafts. I use magnetic pins or clips on the board to put the paper up. I buy the push pins and magnet pins and clips from Dollarama. They are cheap and best. The hanging baskets that are displayed in the picture below for his colors are from Ikea.
- Organizing Tips: Toddlers are learning to comprehend everything around them and sometimes find lot of toys and supplies around them overwhelming. Encourage them to do one thing at a time. For example, if he is reading a book, ask him to first return the book back to its place before he pulls out his coloring book. This way he is learning to clean up after himself. Use baskets, lots of baskets for organizing his supplies. It is easy for you too. If you are planning on a craft activity, you pull out the craft basket with glue, scissors and cello-tape without worrying about the water colors which are sitting in the arts basket.
I am in an apartment and so working in small space and acing at it is important. Be sure to try this layout and feel free to share your set-up.