Friday, November 30, 2012

December Playroom Update

We've had so much fun in our fall farm-y playroom!  With the coming of the Advent season, it's time to prepare our space.  Advent is a time of simplifying in order to fully focus on Jesus as Emanuel--God With Us.  To keep in line with this, I simplified our playroom big time.  I took out a lot of stuff, and it helped that all our doll furniture is being borrowed for an adoption shower, so that was an easy way to clear some space in our play area.  I also took many items off the workshelves. 

To provide a little change, I covered the playroom rug with a pretty quilt my grandma made us as a wedding present.  I have decided to be a person who uses my quilts to pieces, so it makes me so happy to sit on it while I play with my babies! 

I also try to rearrange the set up and furniture of the playroom each couple of months to give a fresh feel and renewed interest in the areas. 

I took the green leaves and bees off our branch and now all that is left are a few yellow and brown leaves.  In January we'll add snowflakes and forest animals.  But for now I want the branch bare. 

As you can see, the animals are a big fan of the floor quilt.  :)

This side of the room just holds a few little chairs, the basket of doll clothing/accessories, and Ms. Mouse and her clothes. 

Our little table holds our lantern from the Lantern walk and lots of candles.  My kids LOVE these fake candles.  They love switching them off and on, singing with them (This Little Light of Mine, Twinkle, Twinkle....), and just generally playing with them!  On the candle tray we've also collected some pretty pinecones and Q and I made some acorn fairies out of felt scraps and acorns. 

New playsilks!  We took a trip to Hobby Lobby this week and Q chose two wintery colors.  She has been playing like crazy with playsilks and clothespins this week!  She is very into clipping the silks to her hair.....

I put several of Beck's cars/trains on the floor. 
As part of Advent, we're not going to go full into Christmas and Christmas decorations quite yet.  We'll take our time focusing on the birth of Jesus first.  As a result we don't have Christmas things out, except this book.  I bumped into it on my bookshelf and knew if I didn't set it out now I would totally forget about it, and Beck would be too big for it next year.  So I am cheating a little bit.  :)
We also have some of our fall items still out.  I LOVE giving myself permission not to go crazy into all things Christmas and allow our family to finish out the fall season and enter into Christmas leisurely.  I've never felt this peaceful during this time of year before.....All of that to say, we still have some pumpkins, acorns and gourds out in the playroom.  :)

Little Man is loving tools.  I got out a few of his pounding items.  I always put these types of toys on their own rug and teach my children that they (and their pieces) live on the rug.  This helps give a good boundary for items that otherwise tend to fly all over the room.  And hammers need a gently reminder and sometimes physical redirection that "hammers are for hitting nails or balls."  I love having some type of hammering work out at all times with toddlers--they have a natural tendency to hit when they are frustrated, and a hammering area provides a good spot for redirection--"We hit on our nailbench." 

I also put out part of our Melissa and Doug tool kit.  Just a couple of each of the screws and nails (one of our nails broke this week...booo) and three of the tools.  You know my constant mantra to only put out the number of items that a child can clean up successfully--you never HAVE to put out full sets. 

We always have fun playing with mixed nuts in their shells at holiday time.  Q chose these out of a big bin at the grocery store.  Putting them in a mini muffin tin encourages counting and one-to-one correspondence as well as fine motor skills when putting them in and out.  A spoon or tongs can be combined, for additional fine motor practice.  Beck likes to dump the tray and put them back (well....some of them back....he's totally a one year old!).  Q engages in LOTS of imaginary play with them.  And we have more than what fits in this tray, so anytime Daddy is home the kids will bring him nuts to crack for eating!  This is also a great science skill!!
In our doll basket I put out some doll coats and some festive dresses.   

My grandma made these dresses for us when we were kids!  Love that Q is now playing with them!
Our shelf isn't real exciting right now.  It holds Q's baby from her Rainbow Bridge ceremony on her 4th birthday and also a basket of clothespins.  As a reminder, I keep clothespins accessible at all times.  They end up coming into use for all sorts of things in the playroom--usually combined with playsilks!

On the dressup shelf I put out a little jewelery box of bead necklaces.  It's been out before, but for the past year or so it's been in the closet, so Q has renewed interest in playing with it!  And Little Man loves opening and closing it!

As we enter Advent we'll be adding specific items to our playroom, so stay tuned!

Ikea easel-hack Barn

Of course our farm-y playroom needed a barn!  I used our Ikea easel, a red quilt, and some masking tape to create one.  Of course Baby Gap, our horse, took up residence inside!  And yes, there IS a rooster perched atop!
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Outside Projects

We've been enjoying some simple outside projects lately.  We'll head out to a field behind our house and spend some time soaking up the last of the afternoon sun and trying out some fun projects.  Sometimes my littlest the slightest bit interested in the task I brought out, and that's fine, too. 

Some we've done....oldies but goodies!  Leaf rubbings:

Gathering berries to decorate pinecones:

We've also threaded leaves on a string to make a garland, collected acorns to paint, smashed acorns......
This has become a fun way for us to wind down before dinner, spend time together, and enjoy fresh air!

Fall "Playsilks"

Of course to go along with our fall-ish playroom we changed out the ever-present playsilks to be fall colors.  I had a red piece of crinkly cotton fabric and some orange gingham that fit the bill perfectly.  I am not a playsilk purist--we use all different types of flowey fabrics for our fabric play.  I do always have two hooks out--so we put out two playsilks/fabrics at all times.  If you haven't incorporated playsilks into your play area, I strongly recommend it!  For ideas, check out this site.
Start small--put out one or two pieces of fabric you have around the house.  Light blankets (baby swaddling blankes are great!), scarves, wraps work great!  Engage in some pretend play with your child to model some ways the playsilks can be used......become princesses, knights, monsters, or dress up your baby dolls with them.  Playsilks encourage imaginary play in great ways!  I teach Quinn how to find the center of the playsilk in her hand and place it over the hook when she is finished using it.  This is a great premath skill and also involves fine motor development.  At her school they fold the playsilks and place them in a basket, and folding (always done from top to bottom and left to right) is a great tool for pre-reading--it helps train the brain in the direction of print. 
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