Playroom Ideas: organization, learning experiences, toys and supplies

Photo by Markus Spiske on

Setting up your child’s playroom, or rearranging and organizing, can be a daunting process. We all dream of a world where kids cleaned up their own messes and played in a constructive way with little drama. I have gone through many professional trainings learning about school and home environments, and how to set them up for success. Here are some tips and tricks (from education to organization to play) I learned over the years working in early childhood:

Learning Through Play: The Science

We all want to raise strong and intelligent children, right? A lot of people don’t realize, but children learn best through play. When children, especially young children, are forced to sit in a desk all day it can be hard for them to keep their focus and really take in all of the information they are given.

When children are learning through play, they become actively engaged in their learning environment. It’s like we adults start a new job, we can read all of the manuals on how to do the job, but you don’t truly learn it and master it until you start actively doing it. Research has shown that children who learn through play are more engaged, they find the information they are learning to be meaningful (rather than a chore) and they can learn in a social context that they actually enjoy. Researchers have also found that kids will also be more likely to use the information they used playing in other contexts in their lives.

Unfortunately, schools are doing less of play-based learning and more standardized tests and sitting at desks. Neuroscientists found that learning through play activates the brain more, especially compared to memorizing and tests. It has been show to improve language and grammar skills more so as well.

Luckily there are ways for you to do play-based learning at home and you can do it without a ton of effort. Learning how to set up your child’s playroom (or home) in an intentional way can help your child learn more.

Setting Up The Playroom: Learning centers

Just like most preschools and childcare centers do, you should set up your child’s playroom with learning/play centers. These centers can include an art area, an active/ big movement area, a science and engineering center, a reading area and more.

You might not think you have toys, supplies or space to meet all of these areas, but I’ll show you exactly the opposite. Getting creative can save you money, energy and stress

Art & Writing Center

Allowing your kid to get creative and use their hands in small movement is crucial for their development.

Young kids are still working on developing their muscles, especially the ones in their hands. These fine motor skills if done a lot in early childhood, can lead to better academic success in the future (and better handwriting).

I like to combine my art and writing center since they have a lot of similar supplies. All you need is a small table and a small shelf. I also like to put an easel somewhere close by, but it’s not essential. Click here for an awesome one I recommend. I also recommend having these items in this area:

  • Paper (multiple kinds)
  • Notebooks
  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Markers
  • Crayons
  • Variety of paint brushes
  • Paint
  • Beads
  • String
  • Pipe cleaners (great for beads for little ones)
  • Play-doh (yes play-doh is a form of art and expression!)
  • And more! Whatever your heart desires

You might be thinking… how in the heck am I going to keep this organized. Use Picture labels. If you want your child to get into the habit of putting things away on their own (HELLO INDEPENDENCE), picture labels work wonders. Almost every childcare center and preschool has picture labels (take notice in your child’s school if you haven’t already). Why aren’t parents utilizing this simple solution in their homes more? To stay organized long-term, you need to find a specific home (aka a place to put it away) with every item and label so your child can easily figure out where to put things away and where to find them.

I made a document with pre-made labels for your playroom, and entire home. Enter your email below to get the FREE set of them! You can print them off and tape them up. I like to laminate them too so they last longer, but that’s optional. I have this laminator at my home and love it. Click here to check it out.

Science and Engineering

You might be thinking I’m crazy saying a child can be an engineer, but they sure can! Creative building as an awesome way to see your child’s engineering skills. Engineering can be anything your child maneuvers and builds to create a final product. Here’s a list of my favorite engineering toys from amazon (I don’t recommend anything unless I truly believe in it):

You can also make your own kits with straws, tape, pipe cleaners and Popsicle sticks.

Science is always fun for kids (well unless they are having a grumpy day and hate the world). Science activities are a great way for kids to learn about the world around them. They can also take these play experiences and apply them to other contexts in their lives. The science area should include things such as:

  • Sand/water table (you can put less messy things inside)
  • Fossils
  • Plants (living, pine cones, wood, etc)
  • Magnifying glass
  • Magnets
  • Sea Shells
  • Scientific books (ones with real photos is preferred)
  • Fake bugs, or real ones in the glass casings
  • & More

Try to find items that your child already has interest in. Get creative and put other items that are related that will help expand their thinking. For example, if your child loves dinosaurs, try putting fossils and books on paleontology in there. They can do their own research by looking at the pictures (or reading if they can) and then they can play. Fossils are great in a sand table with some paint brushes for your child to discover them just like a paleontologist.

P.S. Using big words around your kid can help increase their vocabulary and open up times for them to ask more questions.


Large Play/ Gross Motor Center

We all know kids are crazy (but we still love them). You need to give them an appropriate place in the room to let out their energy and get their jitters out. You can make this area big or small. Here are some things you should consider putting in this area:

Image result for kids indoor rock climbing at home

I always recommend just taking your kid outside, but that’s not always an option. Having an area in your home will allow them to be active in a productive way… and hopefully not driving you too crazy. Go in and play with them and they will love it and want to use it more!

Dancing has a lot of benefits for kids. It always them to be creative and self-expressive, allows them to be physically active, increases endorphins and boosts confidence. Encourage your kid to dance and get to boogy-ing!

Cozy Corner & Reading Area

A playroom doesn’t JUST have to have toys. You should make an area for your child to have some solitude and quiet time when they want or need it.

Make sure this area is ONLY used for quiet activities or to calm down when your child is overwhelmed. Having an area that they feel safe and calm in can help them focus and also learn emotion regulation skills to calm themselves down.

The cozy corner should be in a quieter part of the home or in a corner of the playroom, but still in an area that is used frequently so your child feels close to you even when they are having their alone time. It can be small (it should be child-sized). There should be multiple soft items, such as blankets, pillows and stuffed animals. It is also helpful to have books that are related to learning about different emotions young children feel, as well as photos inside the cozy corner of different emotions.

Cozy Corners should have:

Make sure to enter your email below if you want my free documents of labels for around your home. Labels will help your child clean up on their own and grow their independence. Here’s what they look like:

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to head to the consultation page to schedule your free consultation for anything involving children!

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Published by Maggie Stephens, MS

Hi, I'm Maggie! I have been working in the child behavior field for over 8 years. I have bachelor degree in Early Childhood Development and Educations as well as a Masters degree in psychology. I am passionate about children and their developing minds and wanting to spread the knowledge in an enjoyable way. Don't hesitate to reach out to me at Follow my personal instagram at @magstephens to get to know me better!

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