Monday, September 2, 2013

Simplifying... when less is more

As a teacher I love to provide the children in my care with lots of different materials to explore, lots of items that will draw interest and curiosity, and the 'real-deal' items (rather than just replicas) for children to interact with. However, at Dream Family, our space is very limited and I realised that we had got stuck in a bit of a rut. The children were playing the same kind of play day in day out, bringing out ALL of those items, and then in the end having a lot of work to do when it was time to clean up.

Many days our big room would end up like this- generally quite orderly and engaged play (although sometimes it would just look like a bombshell had hit it), but EVERYTHING would be pulled out and used on the floor, and the pack up time was a huge work.

The items were well used, and well loved, and well worth having, but I decided that it was time to simplify things a little. For the time being I have removed all of the dress-up clothes and kept only a basket of silk scarves and a few hats. All of the accessories such as sunglasses, purses, jewelry, handbags and extra plates and cups and boxes and containers and wooden food have been packed away.
We now have a collection of natural materials and loose parts in our dramatic play area, lots of wooden bowls and plates, we kept the tea set and the cutlery and some plates and bowls.

Some of the natural materials and loose parts we have included are:
  • pinecones of various shapes and sizes
  • shells
  • drift wood
  • seed pods/ gum nuts (these came from Australia)
  • river stones
  • glass pebbles
  • dried rose petals
These are mostly stored in wooden bowls, baskets and wooden trays. With all of those extra items gone from the cupboard we have a shelf free to store some of our wooden toys that had been previously packed away because we didn't have enough space for them.
 Doesn't that look inviting? Who wouldn't want to come and play here? J
 These shelves have been de-cluttered and now hold an array of interesting props and materials...
Keeping things simple- too much choice can be distracting and at times overwhelming.
From some of the other shelves we removed the big plastic trainset and some other plastic connecting toys. In their place is now a little shelf for children to play with butterflies and froglets and caterpillars or other lovely little props.
Invitation to play... 
 Invitation accepted!
A little corner to look deeply....

The small wooden animals, gorgeous painted African plate and glass paper weights (which make all things delightful when gazed through) are an inviting combination.

On the opposite wall we have organised our cds a little better, and have added some loose parts to our block corner. I love that we have so many plants- they seem to have accumulated somehow! Come winter these will be just what we need, when the outside world is white, white, white!

We're loving the beautiful flowers that are blooming at the moment!
Our little book nook and a shelf with some treasures: finger puppets, small cloth animals, beading/threading materials, hungry caterpillar props, magnetic cars...

A closer peek- a lovely felt and pinecone bird mobile, a Thai elephant puppet, story stones...
More often than not this phrase rings true:

Less is more! J

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