This space is rather small but rather lovely. It’s a space where children can indulge in a bit of “me time”. As with all of my spaces, no matter how small or large, it is planned – yes planned – so that there is something there that covers all areas of learning and development. It’s subtle sometimes, but it’s there. And although sometimes a space has a particular focus, ie maths or personal, social & emotional development [PSED], it still never fails to be holistic. As this space is a chill-out zone the emphasis is on personal and emotional development but, as you might expect, the whole child is considered. So, what do we have here?
Let’s start with the unit. It’s a £9 TV bench from IKEA. The two little “tables” beneath it are actually metal cupboard shelf insert that are meant to give more space for more tins in your kitchen unit. We use them as tiny tables which children often use for playing with magnetic letters and numbers. They’re £3 for the square ones but there’s a smaller rectangular one available too. They’re from IKEA, of course.
The mirror obviously is at toddler height and is for pulling faces in. The little green pouches on the lower shelf are scented and are also from IKEA and cost £1.50 each. You can add your own potpourri or cotton balls with drops of essence (lemon, mint, vanilla – anything in fact). Great for exploring our senses, expressing our feelings and learning new vocabulary.
The wooden curtain rings are for stacking or arranging into patterns on a table top or hanging onto fingers and ears (yes really). This is a relaxing activity which can also be really funny and rather creative. The little knitted mice have bells inside since they’re actually cat toys from the poundshop. They’re very tactile and are often using for our listening activities (loud, soft, near, far away etc).
The pears are solar lights (IKEA bargain bucket, 50p for the pair. Soooo wish I’d bought more. Discontinued). They are activated by shaking them up and down. Understanding the World, check, and they’re lovely. The children love these and they never fail to fascinate.
The jar contains little metal hearts. I removed them from a string of battery lights from the poundshop. This is our aaaaah jar. Whenever a child feels like having a little cuddle, they take a heart from the aaaaah jar and give it to the person they’d like a cuddle from. It’s lovely seeing the children hugging each other, patting their backs and stroking their hair.
The box is used for the Babbling Babies and Toddler Talk resources. We decide which card we’re going to do today and then any resources we might need to carry our the activity are put inside the box with the card so everything is ready for when we need it. I’m currently working on another blog sharing how to get the most from these lovely resources so watch this space.
The stick in front of our mice is our talking stick. If a child wants to tell us about what they did at the weekend or their morning at nursery, and it’s getting a bit noisy because obviously everybody has a tale to tell then we get out the talking stick. Whoever is holding the stick has to be listened to until they’ve finished their tale. Then they negotiate who goes next. Simples. Incidentally, the green container (IKEA) also contains post it notes and a pencil so they’re always to hand for observations.
Right at the bottom, beneath the shelf, there is also a bowl of multicultural dolls which the children use in their pretend play. I’ve often see the things on the unit re-organised by the children into a kind of makeshift dolls house, with boxes becoming cars to take the kids to dancing, pouches becoming beds to lay down on, curtain rings becoming dinner plates etc. Their imaginations take them anywhere they want with anything they want. Resources don’t get much more open-ended than that do they?
There are armchairs with cushions and blankets flanking the unit so that children can sit and relax all cosy as they look at a book or just take a rest. Oh, and the drawstring bag (IKEA) hanging from the book crate has A5 dry wipe boards and coloured pens inside for a spot of doodling.
Finally, the lamp on the left is a set of fairy lights inside a moroccan lantern which creates a lovely pattern on the walls. The lights can be set to static or varying twinkling speeds with a little dial. Naturally, the children love this.
So you can see how a little space like this, if planned well, can keep children engaged. And, not a single planning sheet in sight.
One of the girls found a genius use of the little metal table today. She threaded jumbo pipe cleaners through the holes. Fabulous! Wish I’d thought of that. Kids, they amaze me every day.