Are you wanting to create dedicated learning areas in your home, but just don't have the space? Whether you are a Childcare Provider without a "dedicated" daycare space, or a parent homeschooling your preschool aged child looking for tips on how to create learning spaces in your shared living space-look no further! Below you find 11 tips to help make this a reality for you.
Tip 1: Storage
Although it's rarely talked about -one of the key areas in creating learning spaces is storage. You will need it. Even if you have a dedicated learning space you will still need storage to rotate your toys, and hold your supplies.
Take some time to walk around your home to see where you can carve out some storage space. You might have extra room in your garage, laundry room or even an unused closet. Any of these options can be dedicated to storage.
Under bed storage is also a great option for those who might be limited on space. If you have a small bedroom that isn't sufficient enough to use, consider dedicating it to storage. The concept with utilizing your storage is to keep everything stored out of sight-and then rotate your learning items in and out of your living space.
For tips on organizing your Thematic Teaching Materials go to this post.
This window seat tutorial featured on Mommy Vignettes provides a ton of storage and still maintains a sense of style.
Tip 2: Learning spaces don't need to be "Huge"
Go small. You can still create learning spaces in a small area without the need to designate a huge area to it.
Re-create things, but make them smaller such as just using a Cookie tray instead of creating a large Magnet Wall.
Tip 3: Use decor to create learning opportunities
You can find many stylish pieces of art, and posters that can provide learning opportunities such as the Alphabet Letters Traci added to her space.
Traci P. of Traci's Child Care & Early Education added an ABC wall to her space, but still maintained her own sense of style.
Tip 4: Hide it!
For storage, consider using natural baskets instead of plastic bins which will still allow you to maintain a sense of "adult" decor in your home.
When you are purchasing furniture, consider the nooks and crannies.
You can add baskets below coffee tables, and under end tables.
Choose furniture with drawers, or that has space for bins.
Add baskets or attractive bins to your Entertainment Center to contain your toys. Use shelves to display puzzles or individual toys. Store construction blocks, Vehicles, or Plastic Animals in attractive canvas bins.
Here is an example of Arts & Crafts supplies that are hidden inside kitchen cabinets. Consider paring down your supplies, and contain what's left in baskets, and school supply boxes for easy storage.
Invest in Ottomans with built in storage. They come in a variety of sizes and textures. They are great for holding larger toys, and dress up clothes. Look for ottomans with reversible tops that can be used as child height table tops for playing.
Tip 5: Use your whole house
Consider placing a pretend kitchen in your kitchen if space permits. Working alongside children is a great opportunity to model. Make your existing furniture do double duty. A Buffet or Hutch is a great option for storing art supplies. Consider using magazine holders for craft paper, and a caddy for portable art supplies.
Tip 6: Create Learning Boxes
Invest in a sturdy set of child friendly drawers (such as the trofast unit from IKEA featured below) to create learning boxes for your children. Each box can be dedicated to a specific learning area such as a math box, science box, building box, etc. With this system you simply decide on a rotation period to replace your learning toys.
Tip 7: Go Portable
If space doesn't permit, consider going portable. You can use portable carts to create portable Art, Science or Math Centers. In the evening, just roll them away.
Creating a "Kit" is another fun way to go portable. Your possibilities are endless. Using a bin, a lunchbox or a carrying container you can create "Kits" that hold Construction Toys, Arts & Crafts, Science, or Fine Motor activities. They have their own "home", and are easy to put away in the evening.
Portable Circle Time Space:
I created this Circle Time Binder for educators who were short on space. This portable option allows early childhood educators to cover the basics of Circle Time without dedicating a whole wall to it.
Portable Dramatic Play Spaces:
This adorable DIY Play Stove from My Delicious Ambiguity is another fun portable option. I really like how you can store your pretend cooking items, and play food right inside.
I love the versatility of this roll up kitchen play mat from Very Mom. You can use this kitchen mat in any room of your home (even on the floor). It also encourages the children to use their imagination.
Portable Transportation Space
You can find the tutorial on how to make this adorable portable Car Play Kit over at Mama Papa Bubba
Find out how to create this Mini Light Table from A Little Pinch of Perfect
Tip 8: Think "Activities" vs. "Spaces"
Don't have room to put a slide inside? or a climbing structure? Create opportunities for Gross Motor play through activities! Get those bodies moving with some Dancing, Marching or a fun game of Limbo.
Tip 9: Create Invitations
Using a box, basket, bin or tray create an invitation to play. Fill them with items that children can use to create, explore. build, or design with. These invitations can be created for any topic or area of interest and can be created to focus on a specific skill building activity. Here is a great article from Deb Curtis on creating invitations for play.
This Invitation to build was created by My Nearest and Dearest
Tip 10: Create learning spaces outside
Have a lot of space outside? Spend more time outside! Any learning space you create indoors, can also be created outdoors as well. Take a look at my post on how to create learning spaces in your outdoor area.
Tip 11: Give them freedom
Children are inventive. From using cardboard boxes to create playhouses, blocks as play food, to drawing their own scenes for their construction spaces, we can help foster their creativity by giving children the freedom to create their own items.
Free Theme Planning Guide
Use my Free Theme Planning Guide to organize your materials and ideas.
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