If You Build It They Will Come

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If you build it, they will come. Whether you live in an apartment or a house featured on MTV Cribs, having a playroom with intentional components will not only be a sanity sanctuary but a valuable place for your child to work. Play is their work. Lucky for them they don’t have cubicles or boring meetings about what meetings to have. And, when you are ignoring them to tackle your to do list or chat with your mom or catch up on work or watch the game or read blogs or heat up chicken nuggets in the  microwave, feel no guilt. You need to reset and they need to work.

And, neat freaks, don’t panic. Take a deep breath. Sing the clean up song or pop in your Rave til Dawn CD and everyone helps pick it up. That whole clean as you go thing didn’t work so well during the early years, and something we still work on at age 7, 6, 5…..um, and 36.

We’ve lived in 4 states over the course of 7 years of parenthood. I realize space can be limited. I’ve made playrooms in apartments, dining rooms, my parent’s basement.I’ve made play areas throughout the house in bedrooms and corners of living rooms. I now finally have my Willy Wonka dream unfinished basement space called “Kids Go Play in the Basement!”  No matter what space I have, the core elements remain the same.

In my early childhood classes we talked about this topic in depth, even having to sketch out classroom layouts. As you collect toys and games over the years, preferably paid for by grandparents, keep in mind to shop around the brain.  Amen for garage sales and hand me downs. Amen to Ebay. Amen to frugal and homemade ideas all over the internet. Amen to plastic tubs for storage. And a hallelujah for the public library!

Areas I consider and that grow along with my kids: Dramatic Play, Science Lab, Book Nook, Blocks/Constructing, Music, Art, Writing Center, Sensory, Computer, Social Studies…

I Can Teach My Child is an amazing resource, save her to your favorites. For more on early childhood, check out her post called the Domains of Early Childhood. 

I will share more specifc ideas for your playroom under this messy, busy playroom tab and it should be said, I do look forward to that next season when we replace some of this with ping pong and air hockey;)

Let me leave you with some Clean Up Songs.

Here’s a traditional Clean Up Song by everybody’s favorite purple dino, Barney
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJ9uhDzN-rA?rel=0]
and I’m a huge fan of The Freeze Dance, which is on the single CD I played the most when my kids were 1-3.

While the enchanted part of my brain occasionally takes inspiration from this scene from Enchanted…
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hAAIm22pAg?rel=0]

but my favorite version of cleaning up goes a little more like this guy’s.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWVpgXFVb88?rel=0]

And, now that the kids are 7,6,5 we just turn on a song we all like and rock it out. Let’s make each other all feel better by not having the house or playroom perfect when we visit. Can we all agree on that one? I’ve already warned you that my floor may be crunchy. Now I will release that we don’t make our beds. What’s the point? That would be like tying your shoes after you take them off. I’d rather be playing.

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