Last fall, I took the Playful Learning e-course with Mariah Bruehl, a gifted educator and mother and the author of Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder. Each week, Mariah provided video clips with the week’s topic, along with some research articles and assignments, some awesome Pinterest links and a flickr photo conversation with other e-course students.
My major project for the course was this wall of shelves and cabinets in our playroom, which on a typical day (before clean-up) might like this:
I certainly was capable of cleaning up the area, and often did, but overall, my labeled bins got contaminated over time and the shelves ended up a catchall for items that had no other home.
Playful Learning inspired me to resdesign this space as a writing and drawing center, with tools appropriate for both my scribbler and my beginner speller. This is it some six months later (and after a very loving cleaning – thanks to our babysitter, who helped move things around this week to make appropriate materials within reach to my little guy).
You can see we added paper sorting bins and lots of writing implements. Under the photo gallery, I added two Pier 1 frames with wire and clips to hang up handiwork, including (not shown) a phone number directory that my son uses every time he asks for a playdate. Here are some of my favorite details:
Although we don’t often intentionally practice handwriting or letter formation, the writing center definitely is set up to develop reading and writing skills. I framed the Handwriting without Tears’ Number Formation Chart and Capital Letter Formation Chart, which literally have kept tears away when my older son is frustrated by his writing. The diagram and arrows are a great tool for teaching, and the captions are silly enough to appeal to both of us, like this one:
Inspired by our visit to the Acton Discovery Museums, I added a “creation station” box to our writing center this weekend: