This is just a short, little post with an important message: Never underestimate the potential for play in the simplest of items. My husband came home from grocery shopping the other day, and tossed me a sleeve of brightly coloured kitchen sponges, and said “I picked these up for a dollar. I thought you guys might be able to use them for something”. He’s such a great guy.
My wheels started turning, thinking about all of the things we could do with them, but it was getting late in the day and there wasn’t enough time left to get all artsy-crafty so I decided to simply present them in a basket, to the hooligans, to see what they would do with them.
First of all, you should have heard the ooohs and ahhhhs when I placed the basket on a table in the playroom. You would have thought I’d filled it with candy. It’s so great when kids get excited about something like this. There was no question that THEY could see the possibilities that this basket held.
All hands were scrambling to grab as many as they could, and the basket was quickly emptied, and they headed off to do what they do best.
For the next hour, these sponges were the main attraction, each child playing with them in their own way. I took a few photos to show you how they were being used.
Looks like they were a the key pieces in a construction site here.
Someone used them as “blocks” to build a tower.
They became “beds” for the animals.I’m not sure what exactly was happening here, but it looks like they were being used as obstacles for driving the cars around.And at the end of the day, the last little hooligan to leave tucked them all into the dollhouse.
There was also pretend scrubbing of toys happening, which I didn’t photograph, and they each rubbed their hands and faces with them, describing the scouring side as “scratchy”, “rough”, and the soft side as “squishy”.
Who would have thought a little sleeve of coloured sponges would present so many opportunities for learning and imaginative play.
I’m sure we’ll use these sponges for various arts and craft projects in the weeks to come, but for the next little bit, I think we’ll just keep them in the toyroom, and enjoy the open-ended opportunities for play that they provide.
Ok, if you saw my post about our new playroom, you may remember that I said there was an area of the playroom that I re-organized as a work and storage space for myself.
I am SO excited about this space! I wish I had taken “before” pics when it was at its worst! Here’s a not so bad shot:
Before: on a GOOD day!
For years, this space was neglected and ignored. It housed hockey equipment, rarely used kitchen stuff like our wok, jumbo roasting pan etc, as well as outgrown clothes , house paint, and camping gear. And the counter was always piled high with boxes, wrapping paper, Christmas decorations and junk. It was an embarrassment.
The space is adjacent and open to the room that we used as a guest bedroom. When I transformed that bedroom into a playspace for the daycare a couple of weeks ago, it occurred to me that if I cleaned up this sorry looking storage area, and cleared out all the cupboards, I’d have an awesome workspace for me, a good amount of floor space for the Hooligans to craft on, and cupboards to hold ALL of our craft supplies. This last bit was really exciting, as up until now, our craft supplies have been scattered all over the house in various cupboards and cabinets.
Let’s get to the pics. Warning: there are quite a few. I wanted you to see everything!
O.K. Here’s a before shot of the icky laundry sink (our laundry room is actually in a different room than this). This is directly behind me when I’m sitting on that stool at the long counter.
BEFORE – laundry sink. Please do not judge me by the filth of this sink. I have ignored it since we moved in almost 8 years ago as the taps leak so badly we don’t use them.
AFTER: the cupboards above hold containers, spray bottles etc. Large bottom cupboard holds paints and our wall paper sample books. Now just to replace those taps (ahem…handy hubby), and it will be perfect!
wall paper sample books and paint supplies
There’s a bank of 3 tall cupboards to the left of my workspace, just outside the playroom. Two of them serve as our pantry cupboards, so they’re stocked with all kinds of dry food and canned goods (I’ve always used them for that). The 3rd cupboard that you see open here, used to hold random tools and owners manuals. Now it holds all of our colouring supplies, a few puzzles and some frequently used craft supplies.
Colouring books/crayons etc, puzzles and our frequently used craft supplies. Yes, one of these days I’ll paint the INSIDES of the cupboards.
Above, we have games and more puzzles.
The drawers under the counter hold:
glue guns and water colour paints… read on to find out about the LED lights
There’s a frosted glass panel above that end drawer that the original home owners put in to cover what was obviously a sink hole at one time.
So I put a couple of LEDs in the drawer, and when you turn them on, you get…
A built in light panel! What a GIFT!
The cupboards below the counter hold:
season and and sensory bin items, and our construction paper
miscellaneous craft supplies
and my stack of white cardboard (which we use a ton of), and our button collections.
one of the Hooligan’s grandma’s donates brings us the cardboard
and inside one of the cupboard doors, I hung a spice rack and filled the bottles with some coloured buttons for day to day crafting.
and enough room in front of the counter to throw down a vinyl tablecloth for crafting on.
Can you believe this space was sitting here all this time, right under my nose, and I wasn’t even using it???
I’m SO excited about it. Honestly. Sometimes, I just go downstairs and stand there admiring it. Do you ever do that when you makeover a space? Please tell me you to. Tell me I’m not the only one who does that.
It’s just so nice to have all of our toys, games and craft supplies all in one place, and so awesome to have a space for me to prepare and clean up crafts so close to where the Hooligans are playing.
Ok, one last before and after shot:
Standing in the playroom, looking out at my work space BEFORE:
and a couple of AFTER shots:
Stay tuned for part 3 of the series where I’ll cover “organization”.
I’m doing my happy dance again!! A large magnet board has been on my “wish-list” for a long time, and just this morning, I asked my hubby if he could look into getting me one of those large oil pans that Automotive Supply stores sell. I’ve seen a few of those transformed into magnet boards, and they’re pretty sweet.
Well, a couple of hours later, hubby was in our storage room, rummaging around, looking for stuff because he’s putting a new table top on an old desk for our boys.
Lo and behold!!! Look what he found!!!
This is the top of our washing machine. When we moved in, almost 8 years ago, we bought a new washer and dryer, and when the guys came to install it, I said I wanted them to stack the two pieces. To do that they have to remove the top from the washer. We’d tucked it away in the storage room, and it had been forgotten until my brilliant hubby stumbled across it this morning!
A couple of screws, and a bit of felt on the back to keep it from knocking against the wall when you press against it and….VOILA!!!
How awesome is that? Huge (think of the size of your washing machine), looks brand-spankin’ new, and FREE!!! Yay!!!
This is part 1 of a 3 part post. There are plenty of pics and lots to talk about, so I thought it might be easier to follow if I layed it out in three parts: ourplay-room, MY space in the play-room, and storage.
Here’s the story: I’ve been running a home-daycare for almost 14 years. The children in my daycare (The Hooligans) are teachers’ children so they’re not here during July and August when their parents are on Summer Break, and in Spring and Fall when the weather is great, we spend our days outside. But on rainy days, and during the long winter months, Mother Nature forces us to spend a lot more of our time indoors.
When we play inside, the room that the Hooligans do most of their playing in is in our Family’s rec. room. All the years that my own boys were young, this worked. It was their “toyroom”. They didn’t mind that the room was filled with kiddy stuff. They were kiddies themselves. It was their stuff. The toys and games were in there for everyone to share and enjoy.
I should add that in the 8 years that we’ve been in this home, I’ve also had bits of the daycare scattered around the main-floor, and in a couple of other rooms in the basement. We have an armoir in our main floor family room that holds toys and a few craft supplies. The bulk of our crafting supplies have been stored in my laundry/sewing room (basement), and and we do most of our crafting in the kitchen. This means for 8 years, I’ve been running up and down the stairs, transporting supplies from laundry room to kitchen every time we craft (and you know how much we craft). A little inconvenient maybe, but I’d just load up a tray with everything we needed and bring it all up. Then I’d take it all back down when we were finished.
As my guys have gotten older, the basement rec.room has begun to morph into more of a pre-teen/teenage hang-out . They have a desk-top computer in there, an art table, a flat screen, the ps3, hockey posters, skateboard posters, books, magazines…you get the picture. They’re not so crazy about it being a “toyroom” anymore, so everyday, I pack all traces of the daycare away into closets and cupboards so the boys aren’t hanging out in a room full of Fisher Price and dolls and matchbox cars, and I try not to be bothered by the mountain of craft supplies that has slowly taken over my laundry/sewing room.
Since discovering this wonderful world of mom and preschool bloggers about a year ago, I’ve been positively green with envy (and I say that with love) over the gorgeous playrooms that I’ve come across, and I’ve been longing (dreaming, fantasizing….you name it) for a space that doesn’t have to do double-duty with my own family. A space that I can deck right out in true daycare fashion. Where toys and activities can remain set up, day and night, in cozy, little arrangements. Where snowflakes and Valentines and Hooligan masterpieces can be hung on the walls or from the celiings, and not raise the eyebrows of my sons and their friends.
And a few weeks ago it hit me… I HAVE that space! I’ve had that space in my home all along. It’s been disguised as a guest bedroom!
HUGE epiphany here folks. HUGE. I realized that I could convert our guest bedroom to a playroom JUST for the Hooligans. Honestly, I don’t know if my family has ever seen me so excited about a project (and I get excited about my projects!!)
In just a few evenings, I moved the guest room furniture out (which involved a lot of reconfiguring of our very small storage room), and I moved all the daycare games, puzzles and activities in! I did leave one double bed set up because I want to have it for when we ocassionally have company, and I can use it for nappers or quiet time.
I can’t even tell you how excited I am now that I have a room JUST for the Hooligans! (My boys are pretty pumped about having the rec. room all to themselves now too!)
Happy, happy, joy, joy!! And if you think this is awesome, just wait until you see how I transformed an adjoining space for me and all of our craft supplies! And I DID think to take “before pics” so you’ll see the full makeover!