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  1. #1

    Default A well-appointed playroom for young kids

    What would you say that an ideal playroom for ages 4-6 contains, and how much time should kids be expected to spend it in?

    I feel like the "I'm boreds" have increased over the years, even though I thought this age would be one in which I could expect more independence and have more ability to finish chores during waking hours. It turns out I am doing more poorly now than I was in the younger years.

    There are a lot of possible answers to this question, I know, and the possibility of getting off track by questioning why I am not happy with undone laundry and the like, but before I beat myself up too much, I am wondering if the problem is, in part, that our playroom is outdated. What should it have in it for this age?

    I have tried to get my daughter involved in rethinking the playroom, but she only suggests more of the same (dolls and figures for pretend play), since it's what she knows. I don't mind buying a little more of that stuff, especially since she earns the money to do so by selling her unwanted items, but it doesn't seem to be a game changer.

    We have tons of unused puzzles (because DD does not like them) and some occasionally-used building toys, along with the doll and figure toys that get much more play. We also have a reasonably well-stocked art area that is well used; expanding that as much as possible is my best idea so far.

  2. T4L In Forum Dec19
  3. #2

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    Wooden Blocks
    Dress-up box, with a variety of fun clothes, masks, hats. Thrift stores are a great way to inexpensively fill the box.
    Paper dolls
    Coloring Books
    Games such as Memory, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Go Fish
    Many of these games, such as memory can be printed.

    Play dough - You can find recipes for homemade play dough.
    Puppets make your own from paper or cloth
    Play food. Kids can make their own, with paper maché projects.
    Boxes! Great for pretend play, Make a doll house or a rocket ship. A kitchen or a play house.
    Musical instruments. Make your own or purchase inexpensive toy instruments, like a recorder, drums or harmonica
    Bubbles
    Sidewalk chalk
    Balls, such as soccer, baseball, basketball. Or simple punch ball.
    Small-sized kitchen tools such as wooden spoons and bowls. These can later be repurposed for science experiments and art projects.
    Cars and trucks
    Plastic or wooden animals and play figures

    These are just some ideas that are fairly inexpensive and are very engagingly for kids.
    A mama who teaches college writing, as well as help her 11-year-old in
    choosing his own life adventure. Using Global Village School to support our desire to develop a sense of social justice and global awareness.

  4. #3

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    Bubbles and sidewalk chalk are probably the most used thing in our play arsenal. Those and legos. Mine also LOVED the dry erase board/chalkboard easel thing. And pool noodles.

  5. #4

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    This is useful, Mariam and aselvarial. Thanks.

    A theme I am getting so far is that other kids have independent access to the outdoors, something DD doesn't currently have (though that might change within the next few months). Bubbles are in my backpack to take to the park rather than in the playroom to be taken out independently. When we have sidewalk chalk (which we're out of at the moment), it's the same deal.

    Maybe, when we move, having an outdoor space she can access on her own will be the game changer.

  6. #5

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    They are at the ideal age for dress-up and "small world" type activities. Play kitchen, pretend vacuum, dollhouse type things. Also I second the suggestion for blocks or legos.

    Chalk could be for a chalkboard or easel. You could even do a whole magnetized chalkboard wall, and have magnetic paper dolls for them to create their own scenes. You can buy both magnetic and chalkboard paint.

    If you have the space for some gross motor things like a sit and spin, or those balls with the handle you sit on.

    And books - lots of books.

    I think the key also, is not necessarily more toys. A lot of developmental experts say that children will actually play independently longer when they have access to fewer toys. Something about too many options leading to overwhelm... If you have a closet where you can store things, you could rotate the toys that are out and to which they have access every week or two - kind of a Montessori idea. That way you can keep the novelty effect going.

    And then just setting the expectation and working towards that. "Until the timer goes off, (or Daddy gets home, or whatever) you may go play in the playroom, or you may go lie down in your room with a book. Don't bother mommy unless somebody is bleeding. If you can't play together you choose to go lie down." And then constantly redirect them if they try to do anything else, and refuse to be pulled into their activity. At first it'll be no more productive time(and possibly less productive)for you than you have no, but soon enough they will get the picture.

    I'd say at their age 30 minutes of uninterrupted independent play is probably the most you can expect. But you could probably eventually string 2 or 3 of those periods together. Maybe 30 minutes of just free play, then check in with them for a bit and set up a new activity "why don't we get out the playdoh and cookie cutters" and get another 30 minutes. So on and so forth.

    Just some thoughts... hope that helps.

  7. #6

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    This is good stuff. I think my expectations have been too high. I blow 30 minutes just by doing the breakfast dishes, going to the bathroom, and getting myself dressed. No wonder my idea of similar midday and pre-dinner (e.g., actually making dinner) chore periods are seen as too much.

    I like these ideas a lot. My daughter has been resistant to spending her earned income (from old toy sales) on gross motor toys, even though she loves them at friends' houses. I think she sees them as taking too much of her income in one hit. I'll have to make it a gift from DH and me and force the issue. I think she'd like dress up clothes, too.

    Oh, and we do have lots of blocks, which get some use as accessories to the doll and figure toys.

  8. #7
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    The most popular items in our playroom are the Legos, the train tracks and cars, the art supplies, and the Wii. We also have a huge magnet board that sees some use, a marble run set, and a bin full of books.

    Far and away, though, the Legos see the most love.
    Kali: 5/03
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    Homeschooling since: 6/12

  9. #8

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    I LOVE the magnetic chalkboard idea. If your kid has little access to the outside, a chalkboard is truly one of the most awesome things. If it's magnetic, even better. There is just something children love about chalk. I have a roll-away sand box (think one of those storage containers that rolls under your bed) for when my son wanted to play with sand but the weather was rainy. We bought colored sand for that. That and some beach toys and old cookie cutters would entertain him for easily an hour. And when it was done, put the lid on, roll it back under my bed, and pick up the sheet and shake it off outside.

    Making your own colored rice bin can be fun too. Tech loved helping color all the different colors for rice, and then we made barriers in his bin, poured the rice in by color, and he played by color. Eventually he pulled the barriers up and had rainbow rice. I would hide magnetic letters in the bin, or paper words, or you could put paper dolls and paper clothing in it.

  10. #9

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    I was wondering if I was too late to the game when it came to sensory bins, but I am enthused to hear that they are popular with this age. I'll see what I can find on Craig's List. I love the idea of hiding things in it!

  11. #10

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    Tech definitely liked finding things! For a while, I put all the letters in his name in, he could find them, and then we'd arrange his name. We've also used it for math, spelling, matching games, or just fun (finding the hidden pirate booty!)

    With sand bins, you can also color the sand (Tech enjoys dyeing things) and then do sand art in a bottle or in a christmas ornament. Tech likes to write in colored sand so I bought him a ginormous pencil and he practiced writing in a pencil box of colored sand. Add glitter to the sand and he's ecstatic. The sand I picked up at Home Depot for $4 for a 50 pound bag, and glitter was grabbed at Dollar Tree. We just used food coloring for the sand, because that's what I had on hand. Eventually all the sand wound up in one big container and mixed together into this purpley-brown. If you have a cat, LIDS are necessary for when not in use.

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A well-appointed playroom for young kids