Many people ask me questions on how to even begin to set up their playroom especially if they’ve already succumbed to buying every toy out there. How do you start over? what do you do? where do you start? The answer may not be the same for everyone because its depends on what you already have, how old your child is and what space you have available. So to simplify I decided to share a question I was asked, and my response…
Sienna, 2 years and Scarlet, 4 years
“Sienna, 2 will watch tv with Scarlet, 4 but we don’t give her other electronics. Scarlet, 4 is just obsessed with LOL dolls, hatchimals, shopkins, etc & plays pretend/makes up stories with them/dresses them in outfits, etc. so sienna tries to do that too vs playing with things scarlet was playing with at 2. Overall though, I find our playroom to be overwhelming (soooo many toys) & I know that less can be more…so am thinking we do not have the right mix of toys at this age/stage. Hopefully this makes sense…I feel like I’m jumping around a bit”
My takeaway: none of this sounds so problematic. It sounds like mom is overwhelmed by the amount of toys and the fact that play looks so different for her second child in comparison to when her first child was that age. Imaginative play is a wonderful thing, but it sounds like the ways in which they are participating in this, doesn’t appeal to mom, or doesn’t sit well with her. Instead of pretend play with hatchimals, it sounds like she’d prefer they play with more open ended materials akin to when her eldest was at age 2…things that can sparks more imagination and creativity in play?
As for your challenge with getting Scarlet to engage with more “2 year old toys”- its probably not going to happen if Sienna is engaging with entirely different toys because you know how it goes… you wanna be just like your big sis!! Therefore, if you want to make a change, it needs to be overall, for the play room for the both of them. The toys I recommend can be used by children of all ages and I suggest doing a clean out and buying a few thoughtful things that both can spend time with and play together with. This way you don’t have to allocate certain toys for each daughter but they can be the same toys that interesting to both of them.
Sienna can still be into her dolls, hatchimals, and shopkins with her friends and she can keep a box in her bedroom to take them out at times when she’s not playing with Scarlet, her younger sister. You can even let her know those are toys that are more appropriate for Sienna’s age and for her to use with her friends. However, for the playroom and times they spend playing together you can have different toys that offer more imagination and intrigue. Toys can be set up thoughtfully either in a play kitchen or on an open shelf for pretend play. The way in which you present and handle the play materials is really important. They’ll learn to respect the toys, find places for them, and truly value them.
As a guide, you can say to yourself “how many different purposes can these toys have?”or “how many ways can these toys be used?” if there’s only really one way to play with it, its not going to be something that sparks imagination the same way something like a silk scarf can spark imagination. I know and expect that they may resist or seem bored at first. It will be all new to them and not as stimulating as they are used to. However, if you make this change, YOU need to believe in it and then they will. When these things arrive, (if you order them) take them out of their boxes like they are treasures, and even offer to play with them at times to get them to see the magic in them and inspire them. Scaffold. They may be different from what they see at their friends houses, but that’s just because of our millennium being made to think that more fancy and more stimulating is better….
anyway, I can go on forever, but I hope this helps. come to me any time!
These are some play materials I recommended to her:
Play Silks – they can be used for dress up and your child can be ANYTHING. Also great for dancing, movement and canopies/tents. Come in all sizes but I love these specifically because they’re beautiful and breathable.
Sorting Toys – They can be used for collecting, imaginative play, sorting and making patterns.
Manipulatives – anything a child can manipulate, build, create and have fun with can be a “manipulative” so don’t be intimidated by the word. Love these.
Gross motor opportunities – I love these nesting blocks because they can be stored fitting into one another when you’re not using them instead of feeling like you added yet another piece of furniture.
Other smaller play experiences can be created using whats already in your home as a surface and adding the swag I recommended for the airplane, such as the post it set, magnets on a magnetic surface, color forms on a window, etc.
How you set up your play area is so important. Is everything visible? organized? is there a variety of materials available? wood, metal, silicone? do you have areas where you can put away toys easily? Does everything have a spot? These are some really amazing ways in which to accomplish this.
This shelving unit is great for displaying toys very thoughtfully and inexpensively for a playroom to feel less chaotic and to force you to be intentional with what toys you have out and making a space feel “cozy.” It can also be used instead of a “play kitchen” and encourage even more creative play because it can turn into a grocery store, kitchen, ice cream parlor, etc.
this shelving unit which helps display toys really beautifully.
This for a “cozy corner” (no idea how much room you have but I ADORE this if u have space for a comfy nook with books and pillows for chill time)
If you live in NYC, you probably don’t have ample space. One way of offering play using less space is with a Busy Board. This etsy shop made mine, but it took a century and the customer service wasn’t ideal.
Here are some other alternatives: