room to play • by dalia sable
Encourage your junior to engage in open-ended play with these playroom ideas courtesy of our community of multi-tasking mummas.
Curate and rotate play pieces
“Keep it simple and rotate the toys. Less is more.”
Vanessa Perelli, Creative director
Cut the clutter and select just a handful of play ideas at any one time. Rotating toys around a playroom allows your child to really focus on what’s available, also enabling your play area to stay interesting and fresh. Create space between toys and limit the number of items on display in your playroom.
When you offer fewer options, it becomes clear which play pieces truly spark your child’s curiosity.
And while you’re decluttering, consider rehoming excess toys to a local charity such as St. Kilda Mums. At Jnr. Life, we share the vision for a future where we waste less and share more.
Everything in its play-ce
“Have all the toys easily accessible for your kids but in a very good organisational system. Everything should have a place to go.”
Georgia Ezra, Interior architect
Order and predictability are important for young children, both in terms of daily routines and in physical environments. Creating an organised playroom supports the desire for order by giving everything a specific spot. This fosters independence in your child, enabling enjoyable open-ended play. Channel Montessori playrooms by giving each play piece its own space on a shelf. Avoid hampers of mixed items, instead organising multiple pieces, like blocks or wooden animals, into sorted small baskets or trays. Consider storage pieces in a neutral pallet to create calm and remember to keep materials on low shelves so that the child can access their play piece independently.
Space to play
“I like to keep a large open space for kids to run around but optimal storage to hide all toys and mess.”
Tamsin Johnson, Interior designer
Just as storage and order are key, so is open space. Having open space in the room allows for plenty of movement, which is essential for young children. Open space leads to open-ended play, portable play and multi-tasking both indoors and outside. An open space in the playroom is also key for developing gross-motor-skills. Ensure there is sufficient space to move, safely climb and explore. This type of open-ended, unstructured movement is essential for growing kids.
“My most used and loved purchase would have to be the Jnr.life mat. Every morning the mat comes out and Angus pulls out his favourite toys and starts playing. We actually have a second mat in his bedroom upstairs. In the evening we lay on his bedroom floor and read books. There are a lot of nice memories connected to these mats.”
Sarah Nedovic, Ceramic artist
Play pieces are a necessity but nothing can take the place of a parent playing with their child. Research indicates that talking to and playing with your baby is the single best thing for their development. Montessori play prioritises the floorbed as a safe area to foster your child’s independence, enable them to move and explore open-ended play and experience their world through movement. With a comfortable mat, like a Jnr.Life padded playmat or play.room-mate in place, the floor becomes a gathering space for the family, bringing parents and siblings to engage at the child’s own level. Play ideas include lying down to chat, reading books, looking at and playing with toys together or just simply hanging out.
In addition to enabling exploration, the cushioned floorspace also doubles as a quiet refuge, somewhere for your child to rest, imagine and reflect.
Play piece for peace
“Embrace the fact that the playspace will eventually extend to other areas of the home so choose your toys wisely. In an ideal world, wooden and no plastic.”
Kylie Buhagiar, Interior designer
Look for open-ended toys that engage rather than entertain. Playthings don’t need to light up or make noises to be fun. Rather, opt for toys made from natural materials to give the child more real experiences. It is great to choose a variety of toys that help your child develop in different ways. Play pieces to develop fine motor (small muscles), gross motor (big muscles), art and music, books, and open-ended toys like blocks and wooden animals for creative play. Remember, toys can also multi-task. A wooden rainbow for instance teaches colours while also enabling children to use reason and gross-motor skills to stack the arches. Flip it over and watch it balance or incorporate it in open-ended play. Be mindful of also including a combination of challenging items, such as a puzzle with more familiar pieces for more relaxed play.