My daycare families know I've been planning to do a minor re-do of our play spaces and have been organizing and sorting for several weeks preparing for our new toys.
When I bee bopped off to the home improvement store to buy my lumber, I intended to have them do as many cuts there and not have to deal with too much cutting at home, thinking I could just zip through the projects with relative ease if that part was already done. But no such luck. The store's saw was down and so I had to cart home 8 and 10 foot boards in my little car. AND I did it with the trunk closed because apparently I have a magic car. It's enchanted like the tents in Harry Potter. The things we have fit in that car- if you saw, you'd agree. The laws of physics just don't apply there.
I had grand plans to build some shelving for baskets and toys, puzzles and such, plus a play farmer's market, a short table and a tent or tee-pee. I got many things done this past week, not all, and some are still in progress.
This was my base for the play farmer's market. I used two.
Making the first shelf.
I knew I wanted something simple and very basic, and I was so pleased with it. It is far from perfect since I used only the most basic tools to build it, and I had a run of very bad luck with my tools (nothing to do with the user as she is an expert level craftsperson, ahem)- I broke a circular saw blade (which is why I'm using my jigsaw- try cutting a straight line with that... just try it), two drill bits and my counter sink, but I improvised and made it work! Once I get started on a project I all but refuse to stop and go buy things- if I run out or something breaks I have some inner drill sergeant barking at me to 'Get it done soldier!' and 'Improvise, Adapt and Overcome!'.
I've been shopping for and hoarding yard sale and thrift store baskets for months knowing I wanted to move to a basket toy storage that was more organic and waldorfy and less perfect and coordinated. I think if I didn't put a thing in the baskets it would still be a great little space. It's just so calming for me to look at this! I know that's weird but that's me.
My second shelf. I decided not to build two alike. I contemplated doing a full 8 foot lower shelf that would span most of the entry wall, but then I decided against it and went with the taller version. I wanted a space that the little ones couldn't reach easily but the big kids could so I could put special 'big kid' items on top.
Making the market was a pain. It took a lot of work arounds to get it to be close to my 'vision' of it and I'm not sure I'm satisfied. The 'roof' was the hardest and if I ever feel up to it I may tear it back down and start over. It is cute though and the kids love it. There is a more finished picture below.
I took an old wooden plate divider, a thrift store find, sanded the varnish off back to bare wood, cut the first row of stands down a little and used it for a finger puppet storage & display. I think it's adorable! I couldn't fit three of the finger puppet people and two of the larger finger puppets on their (the snake and snail) but I'm happy anyway. These always got lost and forgotten in the big bin of puppets and I'm glad they have their own place now.
The play farmer's market coming together. I have many plans for this space and this is just my first phase so the kids can use it now, rather than waiting for me to finish it.
I will be hanging some cloth or net shopping bags for the kids, maybe some other 'wears' will be hung up like a real market, and I plan to drill holes into the potted flowers and hang then from the overhang I built just for that purpose. The back boards will come in handy for hanging things at the kids reach.
Most of these toys we had already, or I've had in storage waiting for my re-do. I picked up square display boxes at Michael's. The basket was a thrift store treasure and it holds an embroidery hoop, fabric scraps, yarn and other notions for finger knitting, weaving and sewing.
The little flowers on the market shelf are real and the kids have a spray bottle of water they use to care for it. And of course the market needed a cash register, which we already had. I will be making felt money to fit the register in the next few weeks.
Here the shelves have some toys on them now. It's a work in progress and they may change as I finish the room.
The rainbow rolling cart is one of my favorite things but I am resigned to moving it to the play room closet. It just doesn't go with my wooden and natural theme and I need to finally take it out of the main room.
The play kitchen and some kid sized wooden accessories.
I had made plans to build a large round table for the kids, and stools for them. But when I got to the store, they were all out of the particular wood I had visited dozens of times when making these plans. So I improvised with a solid wood rectangle pine piece to go over the white bench in the interim. It was only mildly tricky to get it screwed on from underneath but it was pretty perfect when it was done.
I'm kind of glad it worked out this way because now I have plenty more time to work on the table and stools and won't feel as rushed.
When the round table does get finished, I think this table will be great in the play room or I might move it to the back area by the back door for the art center.
One of the themes of the new play spaces is 'simple' and uncluttered. Not too many toys. Just a few choices so the kids aren't overwhelmed.
The middle two shelves store a couple of chunky toddler puzzles, a gear toy and a stacker toy.
The bottom has two baskets, one with a beautiful soft crochet fair trade ball with a jingle ball inside I picked up last year at a yard sale, a jute/hemp rope ball, and a wood ball.
The top shelf, which only the big kids can reach, has a wooden jigsaw puzzle set with four puzzles inside, a basket of wooden animals that stack for a balancing game, and a basket of wood cards with felt letters that I made and sell in my Etsy shop.
The shorter shelf has the rainbow stacker and cave stacker on each end on the top- toys we've had for years, a small basket of wooden geometric attribute shapes, the previously mentioned finger puppet display, and a basket of large tree and plant seeds, bark and plant pieces, some are fuzzy, some smooth, rough, etc. to explore.
The middle shelf hold baskets with sorted wood pieces for stacking and counting, building, etc. I collected fallen branches of different sizes over the past couple of years and a couple months ago started cutting them into various sizes, leaving them round. The far right has a basket of a wooden alphabet puzzle that is the shape of a tree. And in the back a favorite large stone that I love.
Bottom floor is a basket of hand puppets from IKEA, which we've had for eons as well, and a basket of wooden musical instruments including flutes, whistles, tambourines and other fun pieces.
Our herbs in pretty yellow pots. I have never been a yellow fan until just this past weekend. All of a sudden I loved yellow! Maybe it's my new obsession with lemons, or all the sunshine we've been having that inspired it.