An Educator’s Guide to Creating Learning Spaces in Small Places…

“If a seed of lettuce will not grow, we do not blame the lettuce. Instead, the fault lies with us for not having nourished the seed properly.”  ~Buddhist Proverb

I’ve been teaching and working with young children in some capacity for 21 years. But it wasn’t until just over a year ago that I set up to work professionally in my home. My home is tiny. Just one side of a little duplex in the middle of the city with a postage stamp-sized yard. Setting up a space to accommodate 6 young children within my living space has indeed, been a challenge. After a year of trial and error, I think I’ve about got it! Our days run smoothly, clean-up is relatively simple, and the kids are happy.

I’ve been asked a more than a few times to share my secret.

And so here it is.

I’ve broken it down into a few categories and I’ll go through them in order with you.

1.  THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX…

There is no rule that says a ball must be used for bouncing, a garden shelf must have plants on it, or a shoe rack is only for shoes. And I’ll tell you what, if there WAS a rule? Id’ break it. When you have a small space, you can’t always use things conventionally. You use what will work for your space.

Here are some “for examples”…

The busy bags. Ideas for these bags are all over the internet. They are fabulous! Especially at nap times or travelling, restaurants, or doctor’s appointments. But where do you store all these wonderful little kits? If I have to find a spot for one more plastic bin, I might just lose my mind. So I’m keeping what’s left of my mind and I’m hanging my bags on a towel rack instead!

That’s right. A towel rack. Add some binder rings and some little clips from the stationery store, and there you have it!

The smalls unclasp the bags when they feel inclined, and re-clip them when they are finished. Simple. And it doesn’t take up anymore precious shelf or floor space.

Here is another example of repurposing…where do I store all my craft paper, stickers, foam stamps, etc? Here on my landing in shoe racks, of course!

They are only inches deep and have a very small profile, but they hold so much. They can be bolted to the wall so they don’t tip.

Pretty slick, right? They can also be stacked one on top of the other if your space isn’t wide enough. See? A shoe rack isn’t always a just shoe rack!

Here are a couple more simple examples…

I think you get the idea. Just keep an open mind when you are out shopping…you’ll be surprised what might find its way in.

2. THINK “CHILD FRIENDLY”…

When you are setting up your space, try and imagine what you would like if you were 3 feet tall. Get down on your knees if you have to. Imagine the most comfortable, welcoming, easy access room with as little restrictions as possible, and start from there. There are a few spaces within your space that I think are essential.

One of them is a comfy reading and resting area. This area should be soft. It should be inviting. It should make you want to curl up and spend the afternoon there. This is what our comfy corner looks like…

This is our toddlers favourite area. Some come to snuggle and suck their thumbs. Some will bring their baby dolls and tuck them in the pillows. Some come to flop around and giggle when their hair gets static-y. And sometimes, they’ll grab a book and “read”.  It’s always a popular space.

Another space I think every learning environment needs, is a child-friendly art centre. In this space, materials should all be within reach. Yes, even the markers and paints AND glue.

If you feel like reading, you grab a book. If you want a glass of water, you get a cup and you get water. If you feel like writing in your notebook, you grab a pen and your book and away you go. How would it feel if you had to ask someone every time you wanted to do something? You’d certainly not feel empowered. I know I’d be cross. Children feel the same way. I’m not saying they should have access to the cooking knives and go off chopping veggies as they please. I’m simply saying that they should have the freedom to work safely in a space and engross themselves in the process of learning, without being hindered by their size.

Our art centre is open whenever we are in the play room. The children are welcome to work at whatever they find in the little bins, without restriction. If it’s there, it’s fair game.

I change the bins from time to time…the bits and bobs in the collage bins change the most. Playdough and all the tools are always there, as well as the clay and paper. The bottom blue bin is paper scraps from previous projects. The children can choose paper from the scrap bin and are encouraged to put the cuttings and scraps back in that bin so we minimize waste. The children are never left unsupervised in this area, which is why they can have access to the stapler, pencil sharpeners, glue, markers, and paints.

I also believe that every space should have a “show-off area“…a part of the room/home that features their accomplishments. We call our space the Wall of Fame…

I purchased white press board letters from Wal-Mart and painted them with my kids one saturday afternoon. I photographed each child and had their photos printed on laminated foam core. I hung them on the wall along with artwork from each child. It’s their very own feature wall and they are quite proud of it. I use the blue sticky tack to hang the artwork so it’s easy to swap out and I’m not making holes in the wall.

The final area I think a childcare space should have is a “baby/toddler-free zone“. Older children just need space. They need to be able to work with legos and marbles, and little army men, or count their coins and do a puzzle without having to worry about babies getting into it. I have 6 children of my own, and even before I opened my home up to others, I always made sure the older kids had a space to go where their projects weren’t in danger of being destroyed. In a small home, this isn’t always easy. Where do you put a baby-free zone where you, as a supervisor, can still see the children and the babies can’t just walk into?

The landing, of course…

We call this the landing zone. Children 5 and older have “landing privileges”. They can lose their landing privileges from time to time if they are not following the day home rules. This rarely happens, as they know how precious this space is when the toddlers take over the main floor in the mornings!

3.  A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING AND EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE…

This is the toughest of all the guidelines. Where do I put everything?? Everyone who knows children, knows they come with stuff. Lots of it. And how will the children have space to work with all this stuff everywhere? Well, it takes time, and trial, and error. Here is how I’ve done it in my little house, starting at the front entry.

I have a chalkboard made from an old window frame and chalkboard paint for greetings, menu and activity plans. I pounded nails into the chalkboard frame and hung clips from them to hang the newsletters for parents to take home. Each child has their own coat hook which I also attached to the chalkboard to keep from making more holes in my wall, and their own bin for storage. The bins contain their extra set of clothing, diapers, wipes, change pads, etc. I have also added toys at the front door to help welcome the newbies who are more reluctant to be separated from their parents.

Next is the bathroom, where each child has their own towel…

Further into the main floor, I keep a desk for quiet activities and more toys…

(I’m still missing one of my kid’s photos on that wall, as it broke during a move, and looking at this is reminding me!!)

In the main room, I keep toys and the sensory table. They are strategically placed here so I can see the children playing while I’m prepping snacks and meals in the kitchen…

I also have an outdoor space that the children are free to access at anytime that we are using the main floor…

There is no way down from this patio and it’s in my view from the kitchen, so the children can play out in the sand if they need or want some fresh air.

I really, really, really wanted an easel in my home. Like, really. I have one outside, but couldn’t find one more inch of space in my little house…so I had to compromise. I made a chalk/water painting centre in my kitchen on the backside of the island. I posted about it a while back, you can take a look if you like.

When we go downstairs and the fun begins in earnest…

I keep the sensory bins under the table. Every other “job”, as we call our activities, has their own container or bin. You may notice that our table has no chairs. This is on purpose. Chairs take up space. Chairs get in the way. Toddlers fall off their chairs. We don’t need chairs. Hehehehehe. The bigger kids like to sit on the big bouncy balls when they are working at the table. This is so much better for their posture AND the balls can be played with when they are not acting as chairs!

I use circle carpets for the children to take their jobs to and work without being bothered. Once a child has claimed a spot, any other child must be invited to join. We have a limit of 2 children per work spot. The children also need to clean up their job before they can choose a different one. For the toddlers, this takes an awful lot of reminding, but they are learning! These carpets also serve as yoga mats in our practice, and hopping circles in playful games.

I placed 2 melamine boards (purchased at Home Depot) on the floor to protect my carpet from playdough crumbs, glue drips, and paint smears. I put a bit of non-slip padding under the table legs and under the circle carpets.

You probably noticed that I am a label freak. I can’t help myself, really. I get a marker and sticky labels in my hand and I can’t stop. Lord help me if I ever got a label maker! I say it’s to help foster reading skills in the smalls, but really, I just think it looks nice…like I’m actually organized or something!

Most of our artwork downstairs is hung with clothespins from a ribbon…

And upstairs, it’s hung from the patio window…

Our dress ups are down at the end of the hall in the last bit of space I could muster…

The children’s sleep time bins are stored waaaay up top the toy shelves…

I get the top shelf for my resources and lesson planning materials. I also have a storage room beside the dress-ups that I have lined from floor to ceiling with shelves! It holds playpens, rotated toys, more craft supplies, and ice cream buckets filled with sensory items that I rotate in and out of bins. I forgot to snap a photo of that room, though!

And I think that about does it! Even if you are not setting up for a care centre in your home, some of these ideas might help inspire you to create new spaces for your own children or grandchildren in your homes. When our children our happy, content, busy, and learning…well, so are we.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

~Arlee, Small Potatoes

We’ve linked up with Terpblog for their blog party, Living the Width. If you have a minute, grab a cup of tea, click on the image below, and head over to read some really great posts.

284 thoughts on “An Educator’s Guide to Creating Learning Spaces in Small Places…

  1. Wow! I’m speechless. This is fantastic. I LOVE the Wall of Fame! Might have to do that in our house. I like the pillow corner too. I’m working on redoing our playroom space and you’ve just given me some great ideas. Where did you get those adorable round rugs and the bath knob suction cup hanger thingies?

    • Than you soooo much, Jen! You are the sweetest! I bought the orange carpets at Ikea, and the pink and green ones I found at Winners HomeSense. The bath knobs I bought at HomeSense also, but I’ve seen them since at specialty kid/baby stores. Happy shopping!! :)

  2. I love your ideas. I am striving to create something similar here. Love Ikea and the cheap shops. So many great ideas when you can think outside the square. Great inspiration, thanks.

  3. I would LOVE to know where you got the ideas for your “busy bags”. I’m looking for some that are geared toward an older age (pre-k & k) and have only been able to find toddler ones that are definitely too young for my boy. :) From what I can tell in your pictures, these should hold his interest!

    Thanks,
    A. DeFoy

    • Amy, a lot of them I designed myself, for that exact reason…I needed to hold the older kids’ attention during toddler nap time. I have laminated road maps with little cars, word/object/color matching book, duplo pattern building, alphabet egg matching, stamps/ink/paper, a crayon roll with coloring pages, window gel clings, and texture memory matching cards. I have not done a blog post on our busy bags, but if you go through the pics on our small potatoes facebook page, I think I have mentioned on each bag. Maybe that will help you a bit? Maybe I need to blog our busy bags!!lol!

      • Thank you so much for the ideas – I guess I need to put my brain to use and think outside the box! :) Your space is AWESOME and I will definitely check out your Facebook page!

        Thanks again,
        Amy

  4. Arlee, you are a GENIUS!! Thank you so much for sharing your creative, functional, down-right clever strategies for setting up a great environment for your little guys. I’ve shared it on our FB page – we’ve got a lot of followers who do training workshops with family child care providers and they are going to LOVE your ideas! So glad to have found your blog – I look forward to finding lots more treasures here to share with other home providers. Thank you again!
    Kathy

  5. My husband and I recently sold our home and moved into a condo. During the downsizing process, we sold / donated a lot,but as I have a home business, there were some things that simply needed to move with us. You provided some great organizational ideas that even us grown ups can use! And who knows, someday we may have grandchildren staying over for sleepovers, in which case I can use even more of these wonderful ideas. Thanks for sharing.

  6. The area is so colourful and well thought out! I have a friend whose mum is a child minder and her house doesn’t look anything like this, but it seems you’ve thought of everything :D I should probably take tips from this to rescue my room from its state of perpetual untidiness, I’m just too lazy.

    Congrats on Freshly Pressed :D

  7. It’s so…COLOURFUL!
    My lord, and I love the IKEA-style photography + in-photo caption. Great idea.
    Now if only there were a way to ensure it all remains so flawless even after the “smalls” have has their way with it.

  8. Oh my goodness, Arlee! So many great ideas! Thank you so much for sharing them. Your kids and clients are extremely lucky to have such a fun, organized and inviting space where they can learn, play and be creative! Congrats on being FP, as well. Very well deserved! (P.S. I am nearly 40 years old, but I’d snuggle up with that fat chicken pillow like nobody’s business – I LOVE IT! Haha! ^_^) Have an awesome one!

  9. Wow! Can I come to your place to play?!! You are offering a wonderful space for these kids to learn and grow. Probably also even creating some future and well-organized artists. Thank you for sharing. I may use some of the ideas for my own tiny living space. You Matter! Smiles, Nancy

  10. Oh my! You just got me all excited and made me feel like becoming a child again!! Your children are extremely lucky to have you as their mother. Thanks for this brilliant idea! This is what I will do when I have kids. You kept saying your place is small, but with the way you work things, you’ve made it very spacious!!! Just wondering though, is vacuuming, mopping and wiping a bit of a hassle with pillows and the mats around? =P

  11. Reblogged this on Mariela Campbell Photography and commented:
    Ok so I am a HUGE fan of DIY, Re-Purposing, creativity and nourishment to ones self stimulant, our surroundings are a huge mood developer and inspirational educational learning adventure… I am by no means a teacher of sort… but I am always ready to share my knowledge my inspirations and my experiences….. in hop that I can inspire someone else ou there… this BLOG definitely inspired me. in so many ways….. I will use this to recreate wedding decorative’s for my Bridal Show displays!!! thank you for sharing

  12. Wow! Im moving my own personal craft room from downstairs in my didning room to a spare room upstairs and I was struggling with storage ideas…Im not now! I love the shoe rack paper storage and all the other little details! This is amazing and well thought out! Thank you for sharing! And congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! :D

  13. I found your blog on the WordPress home page and I’m hooked! This is amazing! And, I might even have time to incorporate some of these ideas when my kids are visiting Grandma this summer!

  14. A woman after my own heart — I have our home set up a bit like a day care center too but I don’t want to watch anyone else’s kids LOL! : ) You must have the patience of a saint. Love all of it. Looks like a loving, wonderful, colorful, and creative place for the kids.

    • MaryLea, I’ve been following your blog for a good long time, and I love it…never thought I’d see you here on mine! And as for patience, well…I rely on the wine at the end of the day! Hehehehehe! Thank you for your comments!

  15. What an incredible post! Such valuable ideas. I love that not only are these ideas applicable to making your home learning friendly, but also these are easy and great tips for basic organizing. So glad I didn’t miss this post! Thanks!

  16. I love your ideas and I am in awe of how you have managed to use every inch of your space and your craftiness in repurposing…perhaps some day I will have a home that makes sense just as much as yours does!

  17. I love the art cubby and the ziploc bags + clips to store things on the towel rack! This is SO clever I’m going to do something like that for my room too! Thanks for the great idea!

  18. This is amazing! Love it love it love it. I have tried to achieve this for years for my own children. Yes, a space where babies can’t go! Yes, art supplies available! I have it but not so streamlined or effective. I am working on this and you have given great great ideas. Love the shoe bin organizer!! And I am a big repurposer. Love the window reliving as a chalkboard. If more people did this, there’d be so much less waste in the world. Congratulations on being freshly pressed. Commend yourself for not only achieving these visions but doing it with six of your own to nurture.

  19. Your house is like a very organized and always-ready daycare center! Great job with maximizing the space, and the colors are just perfect for the kids! Looks like it’s always fun at your house! :D

  20. What a great post. 10/10! I especially love the messages like “the only journey is the journey within”, “we are the hero of our own story” and “life itself is a most wonderful fairytale”. Much love and respect from Ireland :)

  21. I have enjoyed your site so I’ve nominated you for the Illuminating Blogger Award for illuminating, informative blog content. You can check out the details at my site … http://foodstoriesblog.com/illuminating-blogger-award/ … Hope you’re having a great day

  22. Thanks for sharing. Your photos, descriptions, and stories are really inspiring. I am, like you, been teaching for 20 something years. I have been looking for a place for my own school, but the right place just hasn’t found me yet. I have always thoguht about using my home, but have been discouraged by the size. Thanks to you, I will look into that option again. Kudos!

  23. The magnificent space you have created makes your home look so fun to be in. I would be a kid again in a heartbeat to share that beautiful home! Fantastic photos and thanks for sharing, you are an inspiration.

  24. like…like..like it so much! it looks so simple and easy. the ‘think outside the box’ is really helpful and again… very easy. thanks so much for the insights :-)

  25. wow! Some great ideas here. I love the way you have used lots of easily accessible things, like the herb planters and the stuff from Ikea. I also love how stylish it all looks. I’m planning to try a few of these ideas out – thanks for sharing!

  26. I want to be a kid again & come & play in your house!! It looks fantastic – you are really clever & also very kind for sharing your idea’s. I especially love the ‘landing zone’ for the older children to sit at :)

    Angela x

  27. Absolutely gorgeous and organized, although I had to chuckle a bit as I live in a small apartment in Brooklyn, so a “small” space is relative. Yours looks like a spacious mansion compared to most NYC apartments. :-) It is lovely though.

    • Hehehehe! Yes! I suppose because I moved from a 2700sqft home down to 1100sqft and that was a huge adjustment for me! I have seen some NYC apartments and you are right! THAT would be a challenge!

  28. Pingback: My Friday Favorites 06/01/12 | My Color-Coded Life

    • Thanks, Val! I use the vacuum hose to get in and around the shelving. I have to clean and disinfect the toys weekly, so everything gets moved and the cleaning and dusting gets done all at the same time.

  29. This is awesome. IKEA like. I have a small space and am bursting at the seems. With 6 kids all at different ages it is hard to keep the small stuff reachable and away from little ones. I like the landing idea. I have a hard time thinking outside the box. Wish I could get you in my house ;). I have an empty basement, but it does not have a barhroom and my husband has not brought it to licencing code yet. As soon as he does, then room issues will not be so bad. Thanks!

  30. Wow! I had a lot of fun when my kids were little keeping an organized play area and craft room. Your place is about a gazillion times more in every way! It’s fabulous- those kids are lucky!
    My mind works similarly with regard to thinking outside the box, or cubicles. I really love the shoe cupboard as shallow storage!

  31. Hi there! I just started a new blog and I wanted to let you know that I included you in the list of blogs I follow. Thanks for all your wonderful ideas! :)

  32. Congrats on getting Freshly Pressed! You are so organized and it helps me because I have twins. I just pinned you on Pinterest since I think so many moms and homeschoolers can benefit from your advice and creativity!

  33. This is amazing! Stumbled across your blog from Freshly Press and so glad that I did. I’m a recent graduate who’s just starting out her international teaching career (or teaching career period) and any teaching tips and advice are much appreciated! I’m going to be teaching in Saudi Arabia come September and can definitely use some of these ideas. Thank you! :)

  34. Hi there-I am shopping for a web company that prints blogs into books, but haven’t been satisfied with what they offer…..since your blogs are so beautiful, i was wondering if you had printed them in a hard cover book, and if so, which company did you use?

  35. Oh my goodness! I have my own home daycare and looking at this post of your home makes me want to head out right this second and buy materials to add to sections of my house that i didnt even realize i could use! You’re amazing! I’m totally inspired!

  36. Hi
    WOW I have just come across your blog as it was voted one of the best and I can see why! I have recently graduated as a teacher for Early years and I love your ideas! I can imagine how the children in your care must be in heaven when they walk in! I want to come in!!So innovative so creative so beautifully planned with children’s curiosity in mind! Thank you so much for sharing!
    Sue

  37. Shut the front door! Do you do consulting work? I would hire you in a minute to make my house look like yours. So inspiring…Thank you for the wonderful ideas.

  38. You’re a genius! Being a pre-k teacher myself, I used to dream of having my own preschool. That dream had to take a backseat. I thought it’d remain a wishful thinking since it would entail a lot of money and space. But looking at this post, you have proven me wrong. Turning your house into a very well-organized and creative space for little ones has rekindled my dream. It’s amazing! I used to do that busy bags and hanging their artwork on clothesline or hanging them up on the ceiling using clothespin with my Pre-K class in Baltimore http://marrylallwrite.com/2011/06/09/f-is-for-fish/

  39. Thank you so much! I babysit my grandson (20 months) in my home twice a week. I love your ideas, especially the plastic bags and binder rings. I agree with the comment above – you are a genius!

  40. Without a doubt, that’s a big WOW! Great organizational strategies here to make everything roll smoothly with kids around – that’s finding direction in the mayhem (almost!) which mums and preschool teachers could definitely relate to. Thanks for sharing these awesome pointers – archived for future reference :P

    P/S: Loving those cute stuffed owls too – they look so huggable! :D

  41. Wow!

    We’re a homeschooling family and our school year will be starting soon. I was thinking about how to organize our “work areas” when I saw this post! Talk about divine appointments…

    We also have an accomplishment wall but it looks so drab and uninspiring. I was out of ideas how to spruce it up. I love what you did with your Wall of Fame and it’s definitely gotten my creative juices flowing again!

    And I like the idea about the scraps basket. I just throw ours into a box and forget all about it till the year is over. I think its an excellent way to teach to the kids to recycle and make the most of what’s available.

    I only wish our work/play/study areas were contiguous like yours. It would have made things easier to organize. Then again I guess it just gives me more space to decorate :-)

    A great and practical post! Thank you!

    Warmest regards,
    Mary from the Philippines

    P.S. – Congratulations on getting Freshly Pressed! (That’s how I found you)

  42. Thanks a lot for all the tips :)
    Even though I am a University student, I am pretty sure I might apply some of your strategies to my flat. Even though it is in fact huge in terms of student’s appartements (36 m²) working space is rare XD
    I will definitly try the airtight bags!!

  43. Love, love, love this post – your ideas are refreshing and remind me of the Montessori playgroup my son was apart of, may I reblog your post? Look forward to hearing from you! Best Charmaine (from Australia!)

  44. I downsized from a very large home to a very small one. I still kept the same number of kids and, little known fact — kids grow. So I’m a big believer in unconventional use of space and using every little bit of it, and also abandoning an idea that didn’t work in practice. So I just loved this post. Loved it.

  45. Yes, I agree incredible. My daughter is a senior Early Childhood education major at Illinois State. I wll make sure she reads your blog. Great, great use of space. . .

  46. WOW! Such amazing and incredibly creative ways to use your space! I wish I had a place like this to go to when I was younger. Just brilliant!

  47. LOVED this. My mom’s a preschool teacher and utilizes a few rooms in the back of our house. This post could not have been more applicable! I sent this to her and she loved it all, thanks!

  48. When learning, one of the most important things to have is good, comfy, personal space for studying and doing homework. You have managed to do this is the most creative and effective way possible. You are definitely a true educator. :)

  49. I used to use an over-the-door shoe holder for calculators in my classroom, and I thought that was pretty inventive, but you’ve got some ideas that are even better! The photos are a great visual aid, too :-)

  50. Hiya,
    I teach teenagers and don’t yet have kids, so you would think this post would be a little lost on me; however it isn’t! I can relate to using bits and pieces creatively to make learning fun (I have a plastic grid style picture holder that I use for collaborative work and plenaries for example) and have a classroom the size of a shoe box so need to be creative storage wise. I will certainly be stealing some ideas.
    Thanks,
    Sam :0)

  51. I love your “Wall of Fame”. I have just been inspired to make a Wall of Fame the kids will line up to be featured on. Your home looks like an amazing learning environment. All kids should be so lucky!

  52. oops I think someone spammed your comments! What a shame. Anyway I wanted to say you have some great ideas. Someone was selling those shoe bins on craigslist dirt cheap and I had no idea what they looked like so I passed. Now that I see how they look I am going back to see if they sold. Great job.

  53. I’m new too childcare, but I absolutely love what you’ve done too your home! It looks lovely, and so organised! Thanks for sharing some of your lovely ideas!!

  54. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS!! Wish I could visit – what kid wouldn’t want an environment like this? I can imagine so many adults who would! Your ideas are so great, and what’s even more amazing is the amount of thought and care that went into each of them. Your kids – both your biological kids as well as the ones you look after – are really blessed. Have a great day with the kids in your lovely home, and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  55. That’s so brilliantly done!!! Thanks for blogging about this.. Gives so many good perspective about a small house than cribbing abt the space… Excellent!!!!

  56. The photos and organizational feats make me wish I were teaching little kids too! Looks like so much fun! Congrats on FP!!!

  57. As a mom of only two (yet quite rambunctious girls), I bet “after” the pics this room will never look like this again. But we can hope, can’t we? It is a beautiful concept. Great tips! Really creative and fun. Thanks for sharing this!

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  60. Your play space is just incredible! I am in awe of all the perfect areas of free play for the children to just be themselves and create their own adventures. Love it!

  61. Reblogged this on EMME Books and commented:
    I just love all the fun organizational tools shown in this blog – what awesome spaces for study and play! Thought this would be appropriate to reblog as the school year is starting up for many of us.

  62. Fabulous set up Arlee. There are some wonderful ideas for parents, grandparents, foster parents and carers alike. Thank you so much for sharing. Would love to see how you have set up your storage room too.

  63. Pingback: Storing Busy Bags - All Our Days

  64. Found this page through Pintrest and been wondering around your sight… Love all your practical set ups to help the littles explore at all times. More and more my house is being set up like yours out of nessecity and I’m loving it. The idea of the shoe storage for slim line craft paper organizing is amazing! My office is currently over run with their supplise and doodles (even though I have tons of book shelves… and saying ta ta to bins just makes so much more space available. Thanks ever so much for your insperations! I feel like I have some real direction to set up for the indoor winter months.

  65. I LOVE all your ideas for the space! May I ask where did you get the circle rugs? I would love this idea for in my children’s play/craft area

  66. Thank you so much! I just incorporated the clothespin idea with some hooks and twine for displaying my children’s recent art creations. I’m loving how the space is coming together :)

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  81. Your daycare space is stunning.. it is soo beautiful. I have had a licensed family daycare for 20 yrs.. and like to be organized also.. I would love to have spaces like yours, but I have all my toys etc.. in totes, which the kids can’t really get into… Do you not find the little ones dumping toys, or not always treating books well?? I would love love to have my space like yours.. going to steal some of your fabulous ideas though…. Beautiful!!!

    • Hi Barb…thank you! And yes, they do tend to dump bins, but they also know they have to pick up every single piece they dump, so that cuts down on the dumping somewhat ;) We have very special rules for our books…books are our friends and we are to treat them as we would treat the people we care about. There is no stepping or sitting on them, and no tearing pages or throwing them. Gentle reminders every time they read seems to work well. :)

      • I try , really I do lol… I am going to spend more time rethinking my daycare space, as I adore yours…. I find it a little crazy when you have ages 1 yr to 6 yrs… and I have a very small space{converted single garage} Will let you know how I do lol.. thanks.

  82. I love the look and color scheme of your space. I am starting a small preschool in a small room in my home and will use some of these ideas. Where did you find those colorful carpet circles. I love them!

  83. This is so wonderful! I was looking for ideas to organize our playroom and found your blog. Beautiful! Could you tell me where you got your water table? We are thinking of making one, because they are fairly pricey, but i love the one you have. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas and pictures of your home.

  84. I came across your post several months ago on Pinterest. I love, love, love all your amazing ideas. I stay at home with my 2 kiddos and could incorporate a ton of your ideas. One quick question, how did you attach your towel bar to the side of your kitchen cabinet? Did you do something special, or just drill it in? I have been wanting to incorporate busy bags into our environment, but wasn’t sure how to display them without finding room for ANOTHER basket. Hanging them from a towel rack is a perfect solution and I have a spot at the end of my cabinets that would be just right!

    Thanks for sharing your place with us!

    • Another idea or possibility could be “Command Strips” hooks. They don’t mark up the surface and depending on which size you choose, each hook holds up to 5lbs or more. I Love command strips.

  85. OH wow!! I toured your home last year (2012) as part of the Maximize conference and I so wished that I had had my camera and a whole lot more time. I am so thankful that I found your blog so I can actually “re-visit” your FABULOUS home. (found you via- pinterest!) Thank-you for sharing with us.
    Stephanie

  86. I love your ideas! Thank you for your post. I want to do the circle mats/carpets at my house…can you tell me where you found them? Thanks :)

  87. So, colorful and so fun! It seems you have thought of just about everything. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  88. What an awesome setup! You are so organized and so creative! Quick question–how did you keep the melamine boards from sliding? Are they fastened to the ground?

  89. 1. LOVE YOUR SITE
    2. Where did you get: suction bath toy knobs, circle rugs, and neat towel rack (in bathroom)?
    3. Thank you!

  90. My husband and I have just decided to finish a room in the basement for a playroom for my 2 year old daughter. This post is incredible for ideas and direction. I will be using much of your practices and organizing in my own way. Thank you. Who knew designing a playroom would be so exciting that I’m losing sleep so I can plan it just right. Love the dress up area, reading nook and wall of fame!

  91. Thank you for all the wonderful ideas, I can not wait to put some of them into practice in my own home daycare! I love how bright and inviting you’ve made your home.

  92. Love, love, love this. I have started to implement some of your ideas at my home daycare. I have small space too. Can you tell me where you got your towel rack for the busy bags. I really like it and it seems to be a good size. You’re very inspiring. Thank you for sharing your awesome ideas!!

  93. You are such an inspiration, I am just in the planning stages of starting my daycare. I have read a lot of negative posts(on other sites) which have been a little discouraging, but your posts have shown me that running a home daycare must be a passion not just an income Thank you :D

  94. Hello! Would you be able to tell me where you got your shelving for your entrance? The one with the children’s personal storage… I just love your styling so much!

  95. This is great, and it helps me tremendously I have 7 children from 14-1 yr old I do not have a lot of space and are on the process of adding 3 more rooms. I am going to give this a shot and transform my areas. Thank you so much.

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  97. YOU are my hero! Going to pin, bookmark & take a mental picture of you’re blog for future reference. Currently run very small daycare out of home. Pregnant with #2 and not quite ready to jump right into the daycare thing. Can’t wait to steal some of these ideas when that day comes!

    • They have rollout mats and their one bedding basket to store their blankets and stuffies/dolls. They sleep on the carpeted area of the playroom, and the babies/toddlers are in play yards down the hall. :)

  98. Amazing!!! what an inspiring place for the kiddos to have a great time. Thank you for sharing and help to stir my creative juices. Bookmark!!!

  99. Hi! Love your busy bag idea and would love to incorporate it into my classroom! Where did you find that towel rack? I’m thinking that would be the best kind in a classroom because instead of nailing (which we aren’t allowed to do) I can use command hooks to hold it up. I have been searching but cant find one like yours with loops at the top to allow the command hooks to go through. Thanks!

  100. This is stunningly awesome. Thank you so much for the inspiration . I’m creating a ‘learning center’ for my children, nieces, and nephews. I’m going to be lifting practically every one of your ideas here! You’ve created an incredible blueprint for exactly what I need. Again, thank you thank you thank you.

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  104. I love this so much. Very inspiring ! How long did it take you to accumulate all the supplies ? I’m starting out soon and even though I’m buying used items, it seems like such a long process for getting things done….. kinda wish i had a basement, too !

  105. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas! I love your space, and it isn’t that small to me! I have preschool-aged children with 4-year-olds almost as tall as me. I am always looking for ways to claim more space. :)

  106. Pingback: How Do I Teach With So Many Kids? - {Busy Bags} - My Joy-Filled Life

  107. I love everything about your home daycare and all the ways you’ve used your space creatively. I’ve done home daycare for years and mine looked much like yours when we lived in a 1200sq ft house. Now I have an 800sq ft room JUST for my daycare and I’m embarrassed to admit it’s just a bunch of toys and blank walls. Shameful. I believe you’ve inspired me to fix that, some daycare room work days are definitely in order! Thank you for sharing!!!

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