Call me hyper-organized, but I like things to have a home. That way I can (usually) find what I need unless hubby put it away – but he does have an excellent memory so if he thinks of a more creative spot for something, he always remembers what it is. As Rowenna’s pile of toys grew and grew (and grew some more), I tried to come up with some ways to contain the chaos.
I also wanted Rowenna to have purposeful play stations. We still do therapies, but I like to incorporate her “exercises” into real world, real play scenarios.
First up, our magnetic board station. This serves several purposes. Every morning, I tell her what day it is, what we will do that day, and who we will see. We also use the magnetic boards to display artwork and to post notes. The bottom board is for play. We have a bunch of magnets with different animals and objects. These can be used a bunch of different ways: asking her to choose between different animals, reading words associated with the animals (as in this example – the cow magnet and the word cow), spelling her name or other short words like “mom,” and having her stand at the board and move the magnets around or take them on and off.
This little nook also serves as the parking space for her baby buggy.
(Magnetic boards: Ikea ~ Word Strips: Dollar Tree ~ Magnetic Letters: WalMart)
Here’s our entertainment center. This is an armoire from a hotel that we purchased at a second-hand shop. Took the doors off the top and the drawers out of the bottom. Painted the whole thing green, added some curtains, and made a little cushion. (Cushion is covered in a machine washable and dry-able fabric.) Aside from providing a fun cubby for Rowenna, it serves the important purpose of keeping all wires and components up and out of the way of little hands.
The back wall of Rowenna’s cubby is covered in felt. She has some felt shapes she can stick to the back, and in the future we plan to use that feature a little more. Rowenna knows how to pull the curtains shut, so when she is craving a little sensory break, she’ll go in there and shut the curtains for a few minutes. She will often sit in there with Jax and talk to him. Lately she’s been using it for short breaks during physical therapy, and I like that she has a place she can go for a few minutes to settle down before coming back out for more hard work. She calms down a lot more quickly if we let her chill out in her cubby for 2-3 minutes.
This is Rowenna’s main play area, just off our living room. Hubby and father-in-law built the shelves when we first moved in, and once Rowenna got mobile and had lots of toys of her own, we cleared off the bottom two rows and dedicated them to her.
Each bin has a label. This is to help us keep her toys straight, help our therapists easily locate a certain kind of toy, and to help cue Rowenna when she works with us to put things away. (Obviously, that is a work in progress – but I think it’s never too early to work on organization.) Each label has one word (like “Tools”) and a simple picture. Other toys and manipulatives share the the shelves with the bins.
The bottom right compartment has board books – sturdy enough for her to flip through on her own without us worrying about her ripping out pages. (Rowenna has a big appetite for the written word – literally and figuratively.) Hanging off the banister is a mirror which we use for both practicing making sounds/consonants and for Rowenna to play. She enjoys “reading” books to herself and her stuffed animals as well as chatting to herself with a surprising variety of inflection. I swear, sometimes she is bossing herself around, complete with a knitted brow and adamant pointing! Next to the mirror is the chicken sorter her grandma made. It has various pockets and a bunch of stuffed eggs and chicks for sorting.
Opposite the staircase is a bin of soft toys. Next to that is her bag of soft blocks and her drawing table. On top of the shelves (not in the picture), we store a giant roll of butcher paper, crayons, finger paints, and play-dough. Her Super Ro cape is hanging on the window!
(Bins: WalMart ~ Butcher Paper and Holder: Ikea ~ Mirror: Target ~ Plastic Tub: Target)
So that’s where Rowenna plays. She also enjoys banging around on our piano, strumming her ukulele, using the iPad, and when the weather is nice, crawling around the yard while hubby works on the garden.