Karri Bowen-Poole and Chris Simpson are the design team behind Smart Playrooms, an interior design studio led by two teachers. They reveal their must-have items to organize a children's play and learning space that is optimal for creative, open-ended and skill-building play.
Karri + Chris' MUST have list:
1. Labeled Containers: We love putting all toys and materials into containers clearly labeled with words and photos for kids six years of age and younger. Clear containers with lids are preferred (you can stack them on shelves) and kids can see through them to see contents. They are inexpensive (work with every budget), and they don’t rip, shred or become enticing to “DUMP”.
2. Art Studio or Art Area. Art helps children in many child development domains: motor skills (painting, scribbling, writing), language development (descriptions, labeling, storytelling), decision making (in the course of creating, kids have to make decisions about what to use, how to draw, what to draw/write), visual learning (drawing, sculpting) and sensory (touching, shaping clay, painting). We recommend an art area in all homes.
3. Open-Ended Toys: Open-ended toys and materials can be used in many different ways, are not age specific and don’t play by themselves; they don’t light up or make sounds. With open-ended toys, there is not a “right or wrong” way to use the toy – the child only needs their imagination. Children will continue to play with open-ended toys because they grow with a child’s imagination.
4. Designated Areas for Play: We recommend a playroom be designed around the activities that are going to take place in the room. Then separate these areas into nooks, or corners of your playroom to create “centers” or learning areas, just like in school. In each learning area, make sure all materials needed to explore and create are at their fingertips. Some examples: a building area, art area, physical play area and pretend play area.
5. Display: We always recommend a place for displaying children’s work and accomplishments. This sends your child the message that you value their hard work and creativity. The display area should be easily accessible to the children so they can decide what to put up. Displaying your child's work not only helps them to feel more confident, but it also makes them intuitively want to do more creating and art.
To learn more about the design team behind Smart Playrooms and their services visit them here.
And to shop our favorite playroom decor click here.