I will walk you through some tips on how to organize your very own “Kidspace.” This is a space where my children do homework, practice piano, read books, set up puppet shows, create projects and beautiful art masterpieces and siblings spend hours a day together. This is also the room where we hold our “family date night” and our “family meetings.”
Notice that I haven’t referred to this room in our house as a “playroom.” We don’t have a playroom in our house. We do get to go to Grandma’s house where she has the most AMAZING playroom and we really look forward to that!
In our home, we have a room that the kids create, interact, work hard and grow in their relationships with one another. Sometimes we call it our school room (especially during the summer), preschool room (while I still have little ones at home), art room, etc.
You might even come up with a more creative name than I have. I have a friend that left it up to her kids to name their Kidspace and they decided on, “Imagination Station.” I love it!
As you know, where there’s children, there’s toys and family members that LOVE to spoil your children with more and more toys. I definitely want to start off by addressing the “toy problem” that most parents face…
Here are my 3 Quick Tips On How to Manage Your Child’s Toys.
Now that we’ve talked about how NOT to be overrun with toys, I will address how to create a functional Kidspace.
Our journey of creating a functional Kidspace in our home started 3 years ago. I decided to convert our scarcely used formal living room into a place for our children to do homework and art projects.
For a long time I had drawers and cupboards in our kitchen dedicated to art supplies, school supplies and board games. One day, I had enough!
So, I decided to list all of our formal living room furniture on Craigslist. Our items went within a few days! I also had a garage sale. You can read more about how I paid cash for our kidspace here. I used the money earned on the sale of the furniture and turned around to use it for our new Kidspace!
The items I mention in this blog entry are items that we actually purchased (or very similar). I did shop online, as well as big box stores and of course, garage sales!
I have taken actual pictures of our Kidspace to help guide you on your journey to a functional, inviting, kid-friendly environment that your whole family will enjoy! To read more in depth about how I Paid Cash for our school room, You can find out more detail HERE, with our feature on Money Saving Mom.com.
Your Kidspace should have a calming, peaceful feel. It’s a fact that kids (and adults!) are more focused in an environment with colors found in nature. For example, beige, light greens and blues as well as some yellows and light orange. If you were to walk outside, you would find these colors in our natural environment. In my Kidspace, I knew I wanted green and blue as our accents. I went with white tables and colorful chairs as well as a green rug. My main storage shelf is white with colorful plastic bins. I also have a cute green lamp and a whiteboard easel to round out our space. We add more color to our white walls with our art work.
Last summer, the kids and I decided to do an “under the sea” theme for our in-home summer school sessions while they were on break. We created a HUGE wall mural with light blue butcher paper. We created waves in the water, colored some seaweed and coral to add depth and scenery to the mural. Each week we added new elements to the mural with artwork from our summer school sessions. Each kiddo made a shark out of card stock and used tiny shells for the teeth. We then created a starfish with card stock and used glue and sand for the texture. We added fish, octopus and many other sea creatures. By the end of the summer we had the most beautiful mural masterpiece on our summer school wall. You too can create a wall mural that you add artwork to over time!
Another way I like to display my children’s artwork is to use colorful yarn and clothespins to clip up their masterpieces. I like to buy plain wood clothespins so that we can decorate them ourselves for the seasons and holidays. We start this first by making it into an art project. I lay out a bunch of clothespins, paints, and stickers and let the kids decorate the clothespins. If you’d rather have your clothespins ready for hanging and want to skip this step then I would suggest trying these colorful clothespins. We want our artwork to pop! I make two rows of yarn string across the wall while securing it with thumbtacks. We then clip our beautiful clothespins on the yarn. The kids can then display their artwork in our “art gallery” by using the clothespins to clip up their work.
One final suggestion I have for displaying artwork is choosing your child’s most beautiful masterpieces and displaying them as framed art. We either place them on table tops or hang them on the walls in our Kidspace.
Whether you have an entire room to dedicate to your Kidspace or just a portion of a room, the best way to start out is to draw a quick sketch. You want to make sure you have a focus for your space that you plan the rest of the space around. As a former teacher, it was essential that I had a legit teacher easel as my focus. I put my beautiful light green rug in the center of our room and my Ikea tables and chairs on top of the rug.
I placed the table in a manner that would allow the children to easily see the easel, when needed. My easel has a large whiteboard on one side and then on the other side has a big book slot on the bottom and the upper section has a lip on it for reading big books. This easel has wheels on it so I can turn it back and forth as needed.
Now, your space might not allow for such a big piece of equipment or perhaps you simply won’t use an easel as much as I do. Is this necessary for your space? Probably not, especially if you are just starting out.
I would encourage you to consider a smaller, desktop easel for easy storage and it doesn’t take up much space! There are easels that have a chalkboard on one side and then a white board on the other side with a lip on it for holding big books and it folds up and is easy to store away if needed. This big book/whiteboard easel and this felt board/chalkboard easel are a couple of my favorites if you have the space for them. These easels are sufficient enough for what you will be doing at home.
Not only do I use my easel for more formal teaching, but we also use it for posting art projects that they can follow along with, family game night, family meetings, and my kids love to pretend to play “teacher” as well as games like Pictionary. I could write an entire blog about how to use a white board easel. Maybe another day…
With your table in the center of your Kidspace, facing your easel, it is now time to focus on shelves, drawers, books and other pieces. While I did spend some money on a new table and chairs for our space, I was thrifty about other items. I really wanted to have a “reading corner” in our Kidspace.
I found a $5 white bookshelf at a garage sale, and my super thrifty mother-in-law found a $5 black leather kid chair at a yard sale! The chair had a couple of tears in it but with some black duct tape it was like new again!
Lighting is important for this part of your room. I found a cute green lamp at our local big box store and re-purposed an old CD player for books on CD to round out the top shelf of our Kidspace “library.”
Right now, I have our “Eric Carle” book box on display. As the year goes on, I do switch out our book bins to match our seasons, themes and holidays.
I wanted to make sure the second and third shelves displayed books in an organized fashion. We decided that one shelf should be dedicated to our prayer box as well as our children’s bibles and story books.
Our other shelf has some of our favorite books, themed books and kid-made books. We use these handy plastic ice cube bins that I found super cheap at our local big box store for organizing our kid-made books and our theme books.
You might also like these for your book bins.
With our comfy reading chair, lamp light and a variety of books at hand, this part of our Kidspace is a hit! My kids love reading and have been “reading” books since they were 6 months old, and able to sit up and turn the pages.
We have struggled with leaving our daughter’s keyboard in our Kidspace for a number of reasons. We decided it should stay because that’s where it is easiest for us to monitor her piano practice and hold her accountable. If we put it up in her bedroom, she might not practice as much as she does now.
Therefore, we have a keyboard in our Kidspace. We are sure to set aside quite time for her to be able to practice so she isn’t competing with little brothers playing together or T.V. noise. So far, it seems to be working out.
Along the remaining wall in my Kidspace is the most amazing storage shelf for organizing our manipulatives, blocks, train set, musical instruments, etc. (My cousin also snagged this same storage shelf on Craigslist super cheap!) I love how the drawers are multiple sizes and are easy to open and close so that the kids can access all the items on their own.
I also like how there is plenty of space on top of this storage shelf. I use it to put their “work boxes.” Each kiddo has a work box that is specific to their academic level and full of activities and games that they can pull out and work on independently. HERE is how I use these in the summer.
We keep our lap whiteboards and chalkboards easily accessible and nicely organized in stackable paper trays. I also have a puzzle rack with wood puzzles for my little guy and any small visitors we might be having.
He is a huge fan of both and for his age, it helps his fine motor and gross motor skills. We have a rug with a road printed on it that he rolls out and builds bridges and towns on using the blocks. It’s good for his imagination and I am all for supporting that!
Here are a few additional pictures of the drawers in our Kidspace…
Our Closet to Never Never Land
We have one of those cool “under the stairs” closet spaces that is very long and deep. We use the space to store our “overflow” items that we cycle into our Kidspace. Right now, I have a shelf of kid friendly boardgames and all of our items for Center Time.
Canvas storage bins are great for keeping ongoing projects or themed work organized in one place.
Right now, I store my counters, links, unifix cubes, concept cards, and manipulatives for my preschooler in these handy bins. I work with him in the morning with these preschool concepts so that he is prepared for school!
In the next few weeks I am planning on bringing our art supplies back out of the closet and into our Kidspace. We have an abundance of art supplies. I decided to go with stackable plastic drawers to get organized! You might also try something a little smaller or a rolling system depending on your space.
My children have learned that one drawer is for painting supplies, another for markers, crayons, construction paper and our final drawer is for glue, scissors, and a variety of collage type materials. I really LOVE that they can help themselves to the art supply closet and in minutes they are on their way to creating an art masterpiece!
I also use our “under the stairs” closet for storing our puppets and theater, felt board and box of puzzles. I found my Step 2 Puppet Theater at a garage sale and got it for a steal! If you don’t have the space for such a large piece of equipment then you might try a smaller, table top puppet theater. These are all items that I cycle into our Kidspace throughout the year.
I hope that you have found something useful in helping you on your way to having a functional Kidspace!
Feel free to leave me questions or comments! I enjoy hearing your ideas!