So…I went and did a thing.
I spent a day in the playroom and I cleared out all the Barbies, Polly Pockets, Bratz dolls, Diego and Dora toys, Littlest Petshop stuff, plastic Mega Bloks, even the Fisher Price Little People house, castle, and farm got the boot. That stuff had taken over our play space and almost all of it just sat in big old plastic bins taking up space and was never played with. There was just so much. Everything I removed from the play space took up my entire staircase, landing, and hallway once it was all laid out.
I thought I might have a bit of mutiny amongst the smalls when they came back on Monday…but not ONE said anything about any of that stuff being missing. On the contrary. It was the calmest, most refreshing free-play session we’ve had at my house in a long time.
It’s not that I have anything against these toys, really. But I found that the smalls were playing mostly with the activities I create for them…sensory bins, play dough and accessories, art creation items, and natural playthings like twigs, pebbles, flowers and seashells. Things that nurture their already fantastic imaginations. Simple, simple things where there are little or no boundaries and limitations laid out by a manufacturer.
It was time for a change. And it’s been a good one.
We are slowly phasing out all our plastic bins also, as I found they stayed on the shelves with the lids on and no one played with them unless I brought them down and opened the lids. I’m finding the open bowls, crates, and baskets are much more inviting for the smalls. Our toys that remain are very basic, and longstanding. They are also the ones that get the most usage…The little baskets hold small play sets…perfect for keeping the toys visible and not buried beneath a pile of jumbled toys… I thrifted these baskets for under $4…In some of our baskets, I have added natural elements along with plastic figurines to encourage imaginative play…*These square baskets were purchased a LONG time ago at Ikea, I just dug them out of storage to replace the plastic bins.
We are avid collectors of the Safari Ltd Minis, but have ALWAYS struggled with storing them and keeping them organized. I finally found a solution, and it was one that had been staring me in the face for a really long time. I used to be a big scrapbooker and I kept all my “doo-dads” in little magnetic spice jars with clear lids from Ikea and stuck them to a magnet board. Well, now the smalls have them…They use these minis for whatever activity they like, whether it be play dough, sensory table, blocks, water play, or even in the dollhouse. They can un-stick the jar of their choice and take it to where they are playing, as long as they bring it back when they finish. This new display is highly popular amongst the older smalls…especially the dinosaurs!
Our art centre has undergone a few changes, making more “junk” items available to the smalls for whatever project they might be working on. Glue, scissors, tape, and paint are readily accessible. We still have some plastic in our art centre but have replaced some of it with baby food jars and terracotta and metal pots. It is proving difficult to find washable, non-plastic storage bins for gluey, sticky, painty craft items…*The trays were thrifted for about $2.
Our small sensory bins still remain in plastic bins for easy washing and keeping all the little bits tightly stored inside…I added a weigh scale for the smalls to measure anything their little hearts desire…And I also added little wooden alphabets and people for playing with as they choose. As soon as I find more baskets, these little guys will be out of their plastic bins too, but at least they are open for easy reaching…
Here is an overview of the layout in our “preschool” area of our play space…On the other side of the room, we have our soft, baby-friendly play area, which will someday soon get a make-over too!If you have any questions as to why or how I did anything in this playroom make-over, don’t hesitate to ask!
Thank you so much for stopping by!
Arlee, Small Potatoes