by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
When you have children, you likely want to have a library, a classroom, and a playroom. Here you'll learn how to incorporate all three into one special room that you and your children are sure to enjoy for years to come. As a homeschooling mother, as well as a live-out nanny, this type of room is vital to our household. This is a room I have created more than once. Even in households where the children are not homeschooled, a classroom area is beneficial, as it gives a designated and comfortable area for completing homework assignments, as well as reading, crafting, and playing.
Step 1: Choosing The Room
Some people might only have one possible room to create this space in. Others will have a few selections. Remember that extra bedrooms can be used as well. The ideal location of the room is on the first floor. However, if you do not have an extra room on your first floor, the second floor will work as well, providing you are not doing childcare out of your home. An in-home childcare facility must be operated only on the first floor. If your kitchen has room for a table
and you also have a dining room, consider using the dining room for your playroom/classroom/library, or what I like to call the "Read & Play Class". When you choose your room, be sure to choose the largest room available. This can be done in a small room, but larger rooms are ideal for maximum storage and use of materials.
Step 2: Choosing and Applying A Theme and Colors
Some people prefer a theme and some color and others don't. A popular theme is to just use the primary colors (red, blue, yellow, green) in all the furniture and to accent the walls with decor that matches those colors. If you want some color to the wall for this theme, but don't want it too loud, I suggest using a pale version of one or more of the primary colors. It could also be done in a teacher theme, which usually uses the primary theme, mixed with rulers, pencils, paper, and other teacher-related accent items. You can find many of these items at a variety of different stores, especially during "back to school" season. Whatever theme you choose, be sure it fits well with the ages of your children and also with what you plan on using the room for. Be sure that if you're going to paint, you do it while the room is empty. Cover the floor with a plastic tarp or other paint protector. Let your paint dry thoroughly with the room well-ventilated before placing anything inside the room. Save any accent items and art for the last step.
Step 3: Choosing Or Gathering Furniture - What You'll Need
There are key items that you'll need and some people may prefer to add extra pieces of furniture that are geared toward their personal needs. The basic pieces of furniture needed are a desk for each child (or a large table/desk that will seat all the children), bookshelves, craft unit (usually a unit comprised of shelves, drawers, and cabinets), toy storage units, comfy seats (this can be pillows, bean bags, armchairs, a loveseat, chaise loungers, or whatever fits into your family's lifestyle preference), and a "circle time" rug where the children can sit around you for stories and other activities (pillows can be placed in a convenient area for taking out during this time). If you will be creating activity centers for each subject, you will also need a table and chairs for each station.
This room may sound expensive, but if need be many of these items can be gathered from family, friends, around your house, at yard sales, thrift stores, and even on someone's curb waiting for trash pick-up(providing it's in good shape). Another option is to find out if any area schools or daycare centers are closing. Sometimes they just give away items to anyone who needs them, or at the very least, sell them for cheap.
Remember to be sure you have enough shelf space for all the books, with extra room for display. Be sure that all the toys will be able to put away neatly, with extra room for display and for adding more with time. To be sure this will work, it may be easiest to sort books and toys before picking furniture. Below, you'll see how to choose and/or gather books and toys, as well as how to place them. That should help you determine what you need. Also be sure you will have enough room to store craft supplies and school supplies with extra room to add more later. If there will be a computer in the room, go ahead and set that up when setting up the furniture and allow for a pice of furniture to accomodate the computer and any accessories.
Step 4: Arranging Furniture For The Best Look And Convenience
The furniture will need to be arranged to look appealing, but also in a manner that will allow for easy access. First, arrange the furniture in a way that is appealing to your eye. Next, consider whether all items will be easily accessible once put away. For example, craft supplies should be as close as possible to the craft area. School supplies and computer supplies should be as close as possible to the desks. Everything should be arranged in an appealing, but accessible way. Some may get it on the first try. Others will want to experiment with new ways until they have found one that will work.
Step 5: Choosing Or Gathering Books
Choose some books that fit well with your theme and decor to display as open books standing on the shelves. You may already have some appropriate ones in your home. Look through the books in your house to see what you can find first. The amount you will need will depend on the size of your shelf, as well as the number of shelves you'd like to display the books on. There will be more about arranging the books below.
I also like to hide a few new books the kids will like in with the old for the kids to find later. First, set aside the new books, including the display ones. Sort the other books into stacks according to size and type. In otherwords, put all paperbacks of one size together and all hardbacks of one size together. Do not mix paperbacks and hardbacks. If you have any books that belong in a series, keep those together.
Step 6: Choosing Or Gathering Toys
Depending on the ages and stages of the children that will use the room, the toys will vary. If you already have kids, chances are you have the toys you need already. Some people still like to buy a few extra just for fun. I like to place them along with the old toys and see how long it takes the kids to find them. Gather all the toys you have and sort them out by category. For instance, all building blocks should go together and all cars should go together. Dolls and their accessories should go together. Make piles of each toy category. You may need help from the kids over 5 (or capable of sorting accurately) with this one if there is a considerable amount of toys.
Step 7: Arranging Books, Supplies, and Toys Neatly, but Accessible
Now that you have the furniture picked out and the toys and books sorted, it's time to begin putting everything away. For the toys, start with one category at a time, placing it in the drawer, shelf, or other area you have designated for that category. Continue in this manner until all toys are put away. Some toys you will want to leave out for easy access, such as a favorite pull toy or just toys you want on display. Set these aside as you go along and save shelf space for them. When you are finished with the other toys, set up your display toys. There may also be stand-alone toys. Consider these part of your furniture because they will take up space as well.
Once the toys are finished, you can move onto the books. Arrange the books by type (paperback together, hardback together) on the shelves. Start with the tallest books first. Then, end with the lowest on the end. Remember your piles should already be sorted by size and type, so this will be fairly easy. Don't forget to leave empty shelves where you want to display books. Some may choose to do this only on one shelf. Others may want a display on every other shelf. It's all about personal taste. If the display shelf is out of reach of children, you might consider adding some of the accent pieces mentioned in the theme section.
Put away all crafts and school supplies in their designated areas. Be sure to leave space for adding more later. Supplies will likely grow over time.
Once you are done arranging the furniture and putting away all the toys, you may have accent items you want to add such as picture frames, decorative boxes, or other knick-knacks. Place these in the spot/s you deem appropriate. Just be sure they are out of reach of the children. Remember, this is mainly a room for children. Although other family members will likely use it to read and study, center the focus around the children and keep it safe. If you have a place for circle time, this is the time to store away any pillows you will need to take out during circle time. A low, roomy cabinet works best for this.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Lyn Lomasi is founder and owner of the Brand Shamans Content Community. Services include ordained soul therapy and healing ministry, business success coaching, business success services, handcrafted healing jewelry, ethereal and anointing oils, altar and spiritual supplies and services, handcrafted healing beauty products, and more!
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