Re: children's playrooms
From: Lynn Nadeau (welcomeolympus.net)
Date: Mon, 23 Aug 2004 12:05:51 -0700 (PDT)
Our RoseWind common house play room is well used. I designed and equipped 
it, based on experience of 8 years as a preschool teacher. 

It's 15x15, has two interior doors, each with a window in the top half, 
plus a little "cat" door to the front foyer which is a favorite feature 
of the room: kids crawl back and forth through the hole a lot. There is 
also a double glass door to the dining room patio. 

The general principle is that there is a wall of storage shelves, with 
those below counter height designed for "self service" stuff like blocks, 
toy cars, some of the books, etc. The upper shelves are theoretically for 
items which are adult supervised - games with many pieces, art supplies, 
better books, etc. 

A garage-sale love seat and a Little Tykes mini slide and a pile of sofa 
cushions provide for movement activities. 

A regular sink and upper cupboards are intended for adult use. 

Main lesson learned: children WILL often be unsupervised, even when the 
families are only in the dining room next door. Being accustomed to 
preschools, I've been sad at how much has been broken or otherwise ruined 
by "experimental" uses, even as I've continually worked to tailor what's 
there to such use, trying for items that will survive. At worst, bold 4 
year olds have climbed furniture and gotten liquid water colors out of 
the upper cupboard and squirted them all over, wasting them, kids have 
climbed up and turned on the sink faucets full blast (we now keen the hot 
water turned off under the sink), markers trashed, crayons bashed. More 
often it's just smaller stuff. The key seems to be constant checking and 
refining the system. Our parents' styles run the gamut, including some 
who value free inquiry, shall we say, more than preserving things. So I 
do encourage you to consider safety and appropriate choices of materials 
assuming that there will be unsupervised and ingenious uses made of it 
all!

It works great for supervised use. I have ceiling hooks for a rope 
climbing ladder or trapeze bar, a low table for art projects, wonderful 
books, toy food and dishes, etc etc. Legos are a perennial favorite, as 
are dressups. 

Go for open-topped transparent storage bins, easy to toss in one more toy 
truck or wooden block or dressup. The Marmoleum linoleum floor is cheery 
yellow and very easy to clean. 

Older kids use the rec room (ping pong) or the sofa area of the living 
room, more or less as adults. Over 10, they have little attraction to the 
kid room. But that's been ok. 

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