Another idea gleaned from Tim Seldin’s book How To Raise An Amazing Child the Montessori Way is the idea of simplifying the display of activities and toys.
This suits me down to the ground and as it happened I had been trying to find ways of making Miss Oh Waily’s toys less cluttered while still being available to her in the living room. As well as this I was also looking for the best way to reduce the number of them available at any one time so she didn’t become overwhelmed by choices. I had tried a number of approaches finally arriving at using boxes to keep things as much under control as possible.
But going on a spending spree to get a range of decorative boxes wasn’t on the cards, so we made do with what we had. It wasn’t ideal and we still had too many toys out and too much mess on an ongoing basis. I loved the beautiful photographs of storage in Seldin’s book and was inspired. But with the monster mortgage staring over my shoulder, there was no way to go out and get a whole bunch of neat box-style shelving and trendy wicker baskets just to hold toys.
In the end I got fed up with the play corner being a constant mess, and re-purposed a bookshelf from our front room into a clean, easily kept toy storage corner for the little Miss. So far it is working. And I am making an extra effort to encourage Miss OWW to take one toy out at a time, and replace it back on it’s shelf before starting off with another. She is still a work in progress on that front, but we are seeing the occasional glimmers of hope there too.
So here it is – The Activity Corner.
Miss OWW can reach all the objects except the top shelf, which is where I have put her art supplies for now. Personally I’m not quite ready to deal with Jackson Pollock-esque art all over our walls, so this is my form of controlling that possibility. The kid sized table and chairs is something I had wanted for her for ages and our lovely daycare owner told me about this very, very reasonably* priced (and nicely finished) set. Thanks to Gran and Pop for getting them as a present for our little Miss !
We still get a bit of mess – wait until I tell you about our first attempt at pouring – but on the whole reducing the number of items and making them completely visible has been a good thing. As it turns out, Miss OWW quite likes the new activities I’m presenting to her, even more so than playing with her toys. The little table and chairs are in almost constant use, and take the weight of an adult so we can play together there as a family group.
I’m very glad to have put this idea into practice, especially in the main room of the house. It means that she continues to be included here, but it quickly looks like an adult room with a little tidying.
The next phase is doing a similar thing to her own bedroom. This will take a while because we have to decide whether she will be staying in her current room, or moving to one of the others when it comes time for Master Oh Waily to have his own space.
But that’s for another time and another post.
If you have a dedicated corner of the house for your little ones, I’d love to know what you do and how you have organised it.
* nearly half the price of other versions for sale in some retail stores – and much, much nicer (no laminate to be seen).