A Peek Inside our Playroom: The Third Teacher

I love our playroom. It is my favourite room in the house. Jack and Sarah love it too. It’s gone through a few evolutions since we moved in a year ago but I think I am happy with it (for now). Our previous house didn’t have a playroom, instead Jack’s toys were dotted throughout the house. Which was fine but we were always tripping over things. When we moved into this house I was so excited to see that it had a playroom. And not just any old playroom either, one with floor-to-ceiling windows and a door which shoots straight outside to where we would set up the sandpit, mud kitchen, digging pit and veggie patch. Perfect! This was going to be a great room.

When I was thinking about the playroom I wanted it to be a few things. I wanted it to be inviting and engaging. I wanted it to have elements from nature, places for tinkering and exploring, places to imagine and create. A blend of Montessori and Reggio Emilia. Reggio calls the environment the ‘third teacher’; a place which encourages exploration, discovery, communication. We all know how we feel when we walk into a bright, light-filled, organised, clean, beautiful, inviting space. We want to be in that space. This is the ‘third teacher’.

I wanted to bring in materials of all kinds, not just toys. I didn’t want it to look like an Ikea catalogue, I wanted it to reflect the interests of Jack and Sarah, to feel their presence even when they aren’t there. I wanted each space within the room to have a purpose, a reason for being there; and I wanted each material in the room to be cared for and respected by the kids.

Lastly, I wanted the things in the playroom to be open-ended; to have many different uses. So we have natural tree blocks, each with a unique shape, for building, creating, imagining. Play scarves and silks in the dress-up box; one day a red cape, the next day a gushing torrent of lava. River rocks for counting or building ants’ nests, driftwood for building boats or an African jungle. Any one of these things do nothing on their own and anything in the hands of  a three year old.

So on with the tour…

I rotate the toys in the room fortnightly. I try to keep it to ten things or less. There is usually something science-based, literacy, numeracy, imaginative play, manipulative (blocks/building) and sensory. The nature shelf, tree blocks, reading spot, iPod, and light-table stay out permanently. I also rotate the things in the dress-up box just to keep things interesting.

The toy shelf is an old low-bookcase we had before the littlies arrived. It’s perfect for the playroom. The height means the kids can access all the toys whilst the delicate plant and other breakables (and chokeables) are just out of Sarah’s reach (just). I like how it has divided sections; it discourages me from putting out too many toys. Fewer is definitely better.

My dad made the tinker table from an old thrifted coffee table. He cut two holes and then painted it in exterior paint so we can use it outside as well for wonderfully messy activities.

Jack and Sarah are blessed to have a Nanna who loves sewing all kinds of wonderful toys for them. She made these skittles for Jack for his birthday. Great coordination practice for Jack, and great fun for us. She has also made a lot of Sarah’s toys in her room, which I’ll show you a little later.

I’m saving the space that my super creative husband built for our light table for another day. It’s so cool that it deserves a post of its own.

So this is our playroom. I hope you love it as much as we do.

17 Replies to “A Peek Inside our Playroom: The Third Teacher”

  1. Love it! We don’t have room in our current house for a play room but I am working on play stations through-out the house. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. I’m so glad your back and I get to peek into your awesomeness again xx

  3. This is a beautiful room. I love the nature shelf and the tree blocks. I’m looking forward to seeing light table room.

  4. Wow! What a fantastic room! I love how you have set it up and that it opens right to the outside.

    I am jealous that you have space for a dedicated playroom. I would love to have enough space to do that. Instead, we have all of our son’s toys, books, etc., integrated into our living and dining rooms. It’s definitely not ideal, but it works for now.

  5. a beautiful space…..thanks for sharing it with us….:)

  6. I love this! Your children are very lucky to have such thoughtful, caring, and SMART parents!

    1. Thanks for the lovely words Jayne.

  7. Wow you are so inspiring and I know my son Daniel would love to thank u since I have been reading your blog and fb page I have been able to give him so much more and realised that letting him be a kid is so important …in fact I get more from u than his home visit occupational therapist as Daniel is hyper sensitive due to his ASD u have so many good easy access (things u can find at home or outside) ideas for sensory play and everything else u r pretty amazing and it shows in those 2 beautiful children and u write in a way that is natural and doesn’t feel like reading a text book like a lot of the book I read re autism developmental delay and just children in general Thank you for sharing your ideas with everyone I couldn’t begin to explain the difference u have made in my house alone thank u

    1. Thanks so much Jacinda. That really means a lot to me. Of course Daniel is older than Jack and you have been doing this longer than me but I know what you mean by confusing textbook language. xx

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