Organized play spaces make cleanup a snap.
Take several small toddlers, add attention spans of about 10 seconds tops plus bodies in constant motion, and you have a recipe for chaos. Indoor care for toddlers calls for organized activities, organized play spaces and thinking outside the box. Whether you're creating play spaces for your own kids or developing a space for day care, if you create different activities that keep kids moving and set up play spaces that stay organized, you'll end the day headache free and keep your toddlers happy and occupied for hours.
1Designate activity areas within your overall indoor play-space area. For example, create one area for reading development, one for creative development and another for physical activity. Make each area large enough to accommodate several children and activity furniture or items.
2Use colorful, rubber-backed throw carpets in each area to define the space. This helps toddlers understand that things in that play space stay in that space and keeps the activity stations separate and organized.
3Delegate a small table and chairs as the center for all messy activities, where your toddlers know they're free to create and explore. Use clear plastic containers, such as discarded mayonnaise jars, to keep colored pencils, crayons, markers, child-safe scissors, small building blocks and other items separated but easily identified. Spray the jar lids a bright color and glue an ABC block to each lid to make opening easier for little hands.
4Designate a reading space with beanbag chairs. Turn a wagon into a bookcase. Stand all your children's books up facing forward from the front to the back end of the wagon. This moveable bookcase can turn any area into an organized reading space.
5Hang wall-mountable metal flower containers at reachable heights for stuffed animals and other soft items in the play space. Because these containers have a lot of open space, your toddlers can see and reach what's inside and the floor is kept free of clutter.
6Attach a clear plastic shoe organizer to the wall or door to arrange packets of paint, play dough, glue sticks, small containers of glitter, and watercolor pallets and brushes. These organizers, with their multiple pockets, keep small items separated and easily accessible. The higher pockets let you keep certain items out of reach of small hands, but still immediately identifiable and accessible for you.
7Nail three or four clipboards to the wall at your toddlers' eye level in the designated art area. The clips hold several pieces of art; kids can open and close the clips to slide in their artwork for display, and their work can be replaced at will. No more papers on the floor. Place a wire wastebasket nearby for discarded paper.
8Set out a large plastic storage container or bin to keep balls and other physical-activity toys organized and separated from other toys. Handles or hand grips on each end of the container allow for convenient transport from indoor to outdoor activities.
9Purchase plastic, stackable file trays to keep puzzles and coloring and activity books separated. These inexpensive trays let your toddlers see each item clearly without pulling out all the puzzles and dumping them on the floor. Puzzles can be worked one at a time, and individual pieces don't get lost or mixed in with other puzzles.
10Make it easy for toddlers to return items to where they belong. Whenever possible, place icons or picture labels on shelves, boxes and other containers that help them identify what items belong where.
Things You'll Need
- Rubber-backed carpet
- Toddler chairs and table
- Mayonnaise jars
- Spray paint
- ABC blocks
- Beanbag chairs
- Wall-mountable metal flower containers
- Hanging shoe holder, clear plastic
- Wire wastebasket
- Large plastic storage container