Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Day 2: Fostering Creativity in My Little Man

When Declan arrived, so did all of the things he would need. Our house seemed to explode overnight with diapers, wipes, blankets, toys. Don't get me wrong - we very much APPRECIATE ALL of the things people have given us for Declan. But, having so much extra in your home can create a little bit of stress for mommy and a WHOLE lot more laundry and dishes on top of that.

In the beginning, we converted our dining room into a playroom. This was a necessity since we also share our home with 2 four legged family members. They have never bit anyone (although our oldest is a fear nipper at the vet). But, we can't be too careful.

So, the converted playroom complete with gates on all open sides provides a great place for Declan to play sans dogs. And, the dogs can't get his toys and run off with them although one poor little bath time whale did escape this week and is no longer with us via our loving Yuko. Declan has also been known to crawl into Gabby's kennel in our living room and chew on some of her toys. Ick!

The playroom is a large room complete with rubber interlocking floor mats and an IKEA Expedit shelf turned onto its side (I am so fearful of toppling furniture so no tall furniture can be found here). The shelf is complete with green bins for toys.

The playroom began with very few toys. After all, our little man put everything in his mouth so we had to be careful what we let him play with. In the beginning, there were only the soft toys and rattles. As he has grown and developed, so have the toys.

It became too much for both of us. I began to notice that Declan had a very short attention span. There was too much to attract his attention so he would go from toy to toy to toy and really never play with any one of them very long. This kind of play was not fostering learning.

So, Day 2 brought on the Toy Room Cleanse. Gary's mom brought several Red, White and Blue bags for me to use to store items in. (If you are not familiar with what we call a red, white and blue, see here {Hong Kong and the Red, White and Blue} OR see an image of the new red, white and blue {Hip Red, White and Blue}. The ones his mom brought me are not red, white and blue, but are covered in cute patterns. {see photo below}

I used one to store the toys that are too young for Declan and one to store toys too old for Declan as well as a few toys that I could rotate in and out. I put these in the corner of the playroom. This helped get a lot of extra toys out of the space.

I then rearranged the playroom to where his push toys and walking toys are in one corner. His small toy bins with balls and music toys are in the cubbies, his books are in a plush, woven felt bin {Purchased at Target}. in the corner by the bookcase, and his larger cars are in yet another corner.

This arrangement has really helped with how he plays. Having the toys in groupings in different areas helped with his play today. He would actually stay in one spot for a while and play with the toys there. If he wanted to play with something different, he would have to crawl to another spot in the room. This space has also allowed space for him to practice walking with his push toys.

IKEA Expedit bookcase on its side
Plush bin from Target for books
Toy Vehicles

Two of Declan's favorite toys right now are the two pictured here: Melissa and Doug Sound Puzzle (who knew?) and his push helicoptor from his YeYe. He also loves his train that he can walk and push (gift from a friend).

This is not a new concept. Children are curious, especially at one. He is no different. The more that is out to catch his eye, the more he wants to see. If I want him to really begin to learn from his toys (ie His new skill this week was putting circular wooden donuts onto a wooden dowel - this helps with hand, eye coordination and using his fine motor skills), then I need to do things to help foster the learning. By limiting the toys your child has and rotating them in and out of the play area, your child will also be more excited about his/her toys because they will seem new to him/her.

Here are some links to child development at the age of 1-2:

This is a wonderful article that restates what I have noticed with Declan's play recently after "cleansing" his playroom. I am thinking I will follow this blog that I was lucky enough to find since I am moving more toward the Minimalist attitude in our home by de-cluttering.



Unknown said...

It is crazy how kids just seem to make toys appear. We only buy toys for birthday and Christmas, but some how we have rooms full of them.

Lisa Rubel said...

We rotated the girls toys as well. My mom taught me that. :o) Then we had a yard sale, or I sold some of them in a consignment sale once a year. I watched what they played with the most and slowly rotated out what they did not play with. Too much stuff is just not good for you in any area. Toys and clothes will be an on-going, rotating, cleaning out project for you for years to come...and that's a blessing. Your toy room looks safe, breathable, and very fun!

AnnaC said...

Thanks guys. I actually learned the toy rotating from Jennifer when I was a nanny to her two girls. She received toys from her sister and they always had a lot of them. She would pack some up and put them away and then rotate them out later. It is crazy how you can really tell what they play with even at this age.