My goals with the updates we made were:
- to foster independent play and exploration by creating an inviting and accessible environment. This is always a huge one for me! I want my play and learning space to truly be geared toward my target audience--my child! If he can't easily see or access materials, he will likely not use them at all, grow frustrated at trying to, or require my assistance constantly throughout the day.
- to inspire and encourage more child-led art exploration. We do a lot of artwork here--both process art/child-led activities and adult-directed projects. On occasion, my son will take out his crayons or markers, but then needed my help to get a piece of paper and an art mat. Most of the time, our art activities were initiated and set up by yours truly. He may have a hand in gathering the materials that were at his reach and much of the time that artwork is child-led, but he could not really do much completely independently with our previous set-up. As a result, he does enjoy doing art activities but does not often initiate them.
- to incorporate more STEM/STEAM activities into our routine using the toys and materials we already have. As you know if you've followed my blog so far, we LOVE science here. Much of our science, technology, engineering, art and math experiences are incorporated into our free play and some of the time we also focus on these skills through our themed learning activities. I'm very big on using what we have and not reinventing the wheel. That said, organization and storage are often a challenge in our smaller space. I love an overall minimalist approach and for our shelves to not be too busy with too much stuff at any one time. My son has some toys and activities he loves to do all of the time, so I don't want for those items not to be accessible to him. Manipulatives and building toys in particular are so integral to the development of STEM based skills, so another major goal in our playroom revamp was to organize a way for these to be available consistently while still having a calm and inviting shelf space. Thus my "STEAM Cart" idea was born!
|Our new drawer organizer with picture|
labels to help identify what's inside each drawer!
I was curious how he would react. I do plan to use labels with pictures so he can identify from the outside what is inside each drawer. Sometimes when something is "out of sight" with my little guy, it is also "out of mind," and he may be less inclined to play with something that is not readily visible. I planned to take him on a tour of the STEAM Cart and show him how to open/remove drawers, combine certain materials, clean up when he's done, etc. He found them before I even got the chance and got right to it! I stand corrected... He loved opening each one to see what was inside and immediately took to this new set up. He was so excited by the novelty of it all (even though none of the contents are new) that he insisted on cleaning up his gears and putting the drawer away before we left for his playgroup this morning! He was so busy with it, in fact, that he's yet to notice the new art center. He will surely have an opportunity to explore that once his nap is over.
Here's a peek in our playroom right now with some of our favorite things:
|Play-dough and dry-erase shapes and colors practice are great materials for inspiring fine-motor development while including building/engineering, math and art!|
|We're also loving the drawers for smaller building sets, manipulatives and puzzles.|
And our art center...
Hope you enjoyed our little tour. Happy playing!