The Ultimate Transform Your Play GIVEAWAY

Ultimate Giveaway (An Everyday Story)contains affiliate links

Day 30 | 30 Days to Transform Your Play

We made it! 30 Days to Transform Your Play. Boy! Did we ever cover a lot in this series! I hope you enjoyed it as much as Rachel and I enjoyed bringing it to you.

We started the series talking about our children’s interests and how we can use those to create more meaningful play opportunities for them. There are thousands upon thousands of play ideas out there and with knowledge of your child’s current interests you will quickly and easily be able to adapt those ideas to better meet your child and provide a more engaging experience.

To help you on your way Rachel and I have put together a really fabulous giveaway. We’ve gathered together some of our favourite materials from some of our favourite stores to bring you this awesome giveaway – I have to admit, I am a little jealous. I’d love to win too! 

The Giveaway

For Australian and New Zealand readers…don’t worry international readers, we have something for you too further down!

First Prize:

MTA 1. A $AUD100 gift certificate from Modern Teaching Aids, Australia’s largest supplier of educational resources – Yes, that’s right, $100 to spend on whatever you want!! How awesome is that?!? Micador art materials2. An art materials pack valued at over $AUD100 to restock your art cupboard – generously donated by Micador. The pack includes:

  • Watercolour Palette
  • Easy Wash Paint – Metallic  x 3 colours
  • Easy Wash Paint – Fluoro x 3 colours
  • Basics Chalk Pastels – Pack 12
  • Visual Art Diary
  • Soft Pastels- Pack 24
  • Watercolour Paper
  • Acrylic Paints
  • Large Oil Pastels – Pack 24

books3. A signed copy of Time to Create: Hands-On Explorations in Process Art for Young Children generously donated by Christie Burnett of Childhood 101 – This is an awesome book (we use it all the time). Here’s my review.

4. A signed copy of Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners generously donated by Lori Pickert of Project-based Homeschooling – You all know how much I LOVE this book. It is like my Bible. My copy is written-in, dog-eared and tea-stained! I know yours will soon be too. It is that awesome! montessori child5. A $AUD50 gift certificate from Montessori Child: Suppliers of quality tools, toys and materials. Why not spend it on some beautiful child-sized gardening tools or kitchen utensils.

Second Prize:

1. Lori Pickert has so very generously donated a second signed copy of her book; Project-based Homeschooling, for one lucky Australian/New Zealand reader. Thanks Lori, your book has changed my world!

……….

For International Readers:

Now we couldn’t forget you guys, could we? Here’s what you could win:

First Prize:

Playful learning ecourse1. A place in Playful Learning’s tremendously inspiring Playful Learning Spaces e-course – valued at $US78. I’ve taken this course. It’s really great. You’ll love it too.

2. A signed copy of Time to Create: Hands-On Explorations in Process Art for Young Children generously donated by Christie Burnett of Childhood 101

So Awesome Children's Wallet Cards

3. A $US50 gift certificate from So Awesome generously donated by Marie-Claire Camp. We have three sets of these children’s wallet cards; colours & shapes, numbers and alphabet. They are beautifully made and virtually indestructible!

4. A copy of Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners generously donated by Lori Pickert of Project-based Homeschooling

Didn’t I tell you it was an awesome prize! So, how do you win?

How to Enter:

Simply answer the following question in the comments section of this post:

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED. THE WINNERS WILL BE CHOSEN SHORTLY. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED AND YOUR VERY THOUGHTFUL RESPONSES.

How has your approach to play changed over the last month?

If you need to catch up on a few posts, here’s the rest of the series

Conditions of Entry:

  • You have two chances to win: one entry on An Everyday Story and one on Racheous – Lovable Learning
  • This is not a game of chance. The responses deemed most creative and/or most thoughtful will be chosen as the winners
  • The giveaway will run from 8:30pm AEST Wednesday April 30 to midnight AEST Wednesday May 7 – so you have a little time to think about your response 🙂
  • Each entry will require a valid email address – so we can email you to tell you you’ve won!
  • Make sure you tell us if you are an Australian/New Zealander or an International reader
  • The winners will have 48 hours from the time the giveaway closes to get in contact with myself or Rachel Brown from Racheous – Lovable Learning
  • If the winners do not contact us within that time, the giveaway will be redrawn
  • The judges decision is final. No correspondence will be entered in to
  • The products shown in the pictures may change slightly (paint colours are subject to availability)

Good Luck!

71 Replies to “The Ultimate Transform Your Play GIVEAWAY”

  1. Oh wow!! What an amazing prize!! 🙂 Thank you both so much for this series, it has been a wonderful push in the right direction for me as my girls get older and I feel their play and play spaces needed a change. We’ve seen so many different ideas come forth in their play and art and I know that is because of the way your posts have changed/refocused my thinking. Can’t wait to see this as an eBook or even better a hard copy!! 🙂 xx

  2. This is actually a bit hard to respond to. It is hard to quantify what I have changed and what your great posts have spurred me on to do. Thinking about it, I was tired. I had previously been much more deliberate about my childrens’ play environment as well as how they spent their time and the goals I had for them. But I am pregnant, working and trying to be a good mum. So things had wound down without me realising it.
    Your set of posts were really helpful in getting me to refocus. So far, some things have changed. I reorganised play areas, reassessed the developmental stages of the kids and made appropriate changes. I tried activites that you had suggested, and more than once to give them a real chance to get into it and develop their play on successive days.
    I think more importantly though, I have created a list of goals that take me through to the end of October! Goals for what to do with the kids, activities to try, methods to change, resources to save for and perspectives to think about. I keep going back and rereading posts. In my professional life we are warned about taking on too much too fast after training so I am after gradual progress rather than a flash in the pan short lived success. I am reenergised and am looking forward to the next few months.
    So thankyou to both of you. You helped me over the hurdle that I wasn’t entirely aware that. I was struggling with.

  3. Kate
    I’d like to thank you for this series. It really has been most influential in encouraging me to stop, to take a step back, to observe and to ponder. I have been rejuvenated and inspired to take the insights my observations have bought forth and make a change.

    I’ve been parenting for alot of years now (20) to alot of children (10) and whilst the reality is what you shared wasn’t new to me, you made it become new. You brought a fresh perspective to an area that over time has lost its sheen in our life, you brought back for me an interest and a deliberateness to the value of play in my children’s lives.

    I’m rather excited about this, I loved observing and encouraging our older children’s play but the true reality is in the busyness of life sometimes we lose our way. Our younger children’s days will be richer for this series. Thank you:)

  4. My daughter has been recently diagnosed with mosaic down syndrom, here in France. We had planned to unschool since before she was born, and that diagnosis reinforced our determination.
    But nonetheless, knowing that she might be different, learn differently, more slowly, puzzled me for a long while.
    She is completly reluctant to doing too directed activities, and yet she obviously needs to be led a little bit, since she doesn’t ask many questions nor concentrate much.
    Reading your posts about transforming our play really helped me to rediscover my little girl, and her passions.
    Thanks to you, I had the idea and the courage to make playdough and set sensory activities for her, which she totally LOVED and engaged in. I also started rotating her toys, and she rediscovered many of those, inventing wonderful stories to our delight.
    I’m on my way to making more toys and materials, and introducing loose parts.
    Thanks !!

  5. I have loved this series and it was timed so perfectly for us! My daughter has undergone a lot of big changes over the past little bit and it’s not stopping anytime soon as we are now moving! I’ve been experiencing major “single mother’s guilt” over all of the changes and immediately started adding items to my Amazon wishlist or Pinterest to buy for her new playroom to help “ease” the transition… and then this series reminded me what my goals are and helped me refocus in a new way.
    This move is the ultimate opportunity to “reset” and refocus on our playroom (and our play) to be more open-ended and incorporate less-fixed materials. My daughter is entering an age where she is developing more personalized interests and getting deeper into her imaginative play and creations, so as tempting as it is to BUY everything that can possibly support a new-found interest, I’m trying to step back and let her provide for herself. She is capable of transforming the raw and open-ended materials that I have provided for her into whatever she wants them to be, and I need to stop interfering with my fear of not adequately providing and just have faith and trust — in her and in myself.
    Thank you so much for this series; I’m not sure if you realized when you embarked how much it would impact and help some of us, but please know that it has been a gift!

  6. My approach to play has changed a lot since I started homeschooling. I tend to choose more open-ended toys that kids have to use their imagination to play with. I love toys that don’t play for them ( make music, need batteries, flashing lights, etc). Thanks for an awesome opportunity!

  7. What a question! So much has changed over the past month with our play. I could write a book about it lol!!! I’ll start with my approach prior to this series.
    I would set up activities for my daughter (Amelia 2 years old) in the lounge room for her to play with like plastic blocks, plastic stacking toys, coloured playdough with plastic toys or a box of fisher price toys. Outside she had a timber push cart with coloured timber blocks and I would set up painting with paintbrushes and paper. She didn’t have any designated play area inside just the lounge room. Inside in the mornings I would give her a new set of toys every 30-60 min and other then that she played while helping me with household tasks inside or out. I didn’t have anything that she could just play with herself accessible. We did spend a lot of time outside as this is where she has the most fun tinkering.
    I was finding with this routine, Amelia wasn’t playing inside with anything! I was starting to get frustrated with not being able to get anything to stimulate her to play and was at my wits end. I just didn’t know what to do or how I could change.
    Then my friend shared the first post of this series on Facebook and I was so excited to see where it would take us.
    Well 30 days on and it has totally transformed our play! Setting up a designated play area for Amelia has meant I can give her more variety of activities to play with and keep my 10 month old out and safe! My approach now is to set up her play area every night after she goes to bed so it’s ready for the next morning. This means I’m not trying to come up with ideas in the morning while she’s waiting. It also means she has a space in which she can always draw/colour which is her favorite thing to do. And I have her ‘junk’ box always there for her to play with as bits and pieces of anything are her favorite things to collect and play with.
    My approach to setting up activities has changed also to using much more natural materials which is fantastic because a lot of them are free and I love natural looking things so much more then plastic toys! My kids don’t play with plastic things!!!
    I’ve been setting up her play invitations with much more thought. I used to think because she muddles everything that she is playing with that it didn’t matter how I set up her activities. Now I put a lot of effort into making her activities inviting which suits my personality so much better as I am such a visual person, I’m loving lining up things and colour coordinating and Amelia plays heaps better if an activity is set up nicely. I never knew it would make such a difference (It still is a muddled mess by the end of her play haha).
    I’m also choosing to spend a lot more time being involved in her play instead of just an observer (or honestly being distracted by the house work).
    Our approach to play has mainly changed over the past 30 days from me finding most days a drag to entertain my daughter to helping her play and develop in her life and our relationship. Our approach has changed for play to be so much fun which is what I always want play to be.
    Amelia is loving all the changes, she is not board anymore and explores so much more with everything now.
    Thank you oh so very much for 30 days of ideas that have transformed our play approach for life. I’m looking forward to keep looking back at this series for ideas for my children’s play for the rest of their lives and I’m getting excited about my 10 month old being able to do more and more activities in the next couple of months. I could keep writing but I think I’ll stop now!
    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  8. I’ve been more conscious of what our space looks like and how I can make it more inviting. Inside and out. We have put away or given away quite a few things and have the rest displayed in a more appealing way”. I have also started setting out more invitations to play. Like play dough with sticks and mirrors or loose parts. I think I will also be more selective about toys that come into our home in the future. We had been leaning this way for a while, but this focus really helped us tackle it. Thank you!

  9. My simple answer to this question is…in every way! The cull was a huge thing for us but as soon as we did it, it all started to make sense. Before he was not playing in his room at all with these lovely bright plastic toys we had all bought him. I was not tuning into what his interests were and just thought he was too young to have interests. But as soon as you stop and ‘listen’ with all your senses it is obvious. It hasn’t been an easy path because I have been frustrated when I have presented him with beautiful natural things and he hasn’t reacted how I wanted him too. And when I read into Reggio and what other people are doing, it makes me sometimes feel like I am not doing enough or my space is not big enough etc… But I think reflection is a great thing and I should see it as a positive.
    Now, whenever I create an invitation to play or think about which activity to leave him to find, I always have in my head two things: 1.) What is he interested in? and 2.) Are these things beautiful?
    We still have a long long way to go but I am so glad I found out about the reggio approach now because my son is only 2 and I am so excited about where Reggio can take us.

    I am building our resources everyday and next on my list to buy are real tools and buttons! And some hermit crabs!

    Thank you once again, Kate, for a great series.

  10. WOW! How awesome are those prizes!!
    We have always considered our approach to home educating our children as child led learning however you inspired me from the very start to look at our learning environment and how it focused on my children’s area of interest rather then what I thought they should be learning (that always sneaks in sometimes). A de-clutter and a cull really helped!
    There were things in your series that I had not even thought about adding to our play (or even saw a purpose of) to enhance my children’s learning such as the use of clay, a light table and mirrors! We have added more loose parts to our play, more natural resources (sticks, rocks, shells, leaves and anything else my children find on our morning nature walks) and my husband has drawn up plans to make us a light table! Thank you for the encouragement!
    The blog post that got me thinking was WANT NOTHING TIME. I get so busy that I sometimes forget to really just sit and listen and have “nothing time” with my children.
    Thank you for this wonderful blog series and for the encouragement and inspiration you have given me and so many others.

  11. I loved your post about making time to do nothing. I’ve been doing that more since Cammy started pre-school but I was feeling a little guilty about it. Your post really assured me and I’ve really tried to keep our days flexible and simple.

    Great series. Fab Giveaway.

  12. Thank you, it’s been an awesome month!

    My approach to play slowly started to change when I started reading your posts.(archives at that!) Living here in Singapore is an extra challenge (culture, norms & space). We live in a box in comparison to your space but that won’t stop me in giving my 2 year old son & 7 month old daughter the freedom & opportunity to explore, learn & connect with the natural world. Thank goodness the parks here are great!

    This TYP Series is what I call the ultimate guide for play transformation, from culling the toys, making sure we get good quality materials for our kids, to tips on how we can incorporate natural materials to their play & a whole lot more. I appreciate the fact that this encourages us to focus & really observe how our kids play. With a toddler & a baby in tow, i’ll take it slowly but I’m glad i’m off to a good start.

    You’re blog is an awesome guide & you’re such an inspiration!

    a million thanks!!!

  13. kpapoi1972 says:

    Thinking about how space impacts play. Less is more!

  14. I have re-organized our materials to present them differently to our children. I’ve also started looking differently at the many different ways our toys & materials can be used.

  15. Sorry, forgot to mention that I’m an international reader. Thanks.

  16. So generous!!

    I think the biggest way my approach to play has changed over the last month is in my perspective. I’ve really tried to look at things through my son’s eyes when thinking about materials, spaces, the questions I ask, the encouragement I provide. This series has made my thought processes and actions regarding play much more intentional in this direction. As a result I feel his play has gotten so much deeper and more satisfying. There is more focus, less distraction from the stuff I was wanting him to do and play with, and he is delving deeper into his own curiosity and interest, which has been such a pleasure to watch! I’ve made a goal to come back to this in 6 months to a year and reevaluate and make sure this new perspective remains at the forefront of play in our house.

    1. Sorry, forgot to add that I’m in the States!

  17. As a full-time working mom, my time with my 2 1/2 year old is sometimes limited. In the past, we have baked apple pies, played with “goop”(cornstarch and water, food coloring), and gone to the local playground and played in the sand, but I could see that was being replaced with TV, Ipad apps, Leapfrog, with an occasional story mixed in.

    I came across your series and it reminded me of all that I use to do with my daughter, and what we had missed! Thank you so much for this. Plus we have so many great NEW ideas! I’ve saved all your emails of your posts, so I can keep referring to them. Thank you again for reminding me how important play, and the way we play, helps not only my child’s development, but our relationship. Thank you!

    1. We’re from U.S. (International).

  18. U.S. Entry here. Our play has changed over the past month as our daughter is finally starting to explore language. She has been late to start talking and we’ve had to really encourage her to use words or signs to express herself. We have been focusing extra hard on books, objects and talking. To the point where now she is beginning to express sounds for objects as we work. It has been a delight to see her love to play and learn.

  19. My approach to play has changed completely from imparting what I ‘think’ they will like to discovering what I ‘know’ they will love (to play with).
    I have discovered the wonders of things already surrounding us and the benefits of using Nature’s gifts right outside our front door, wherever we are.
    I trust my children to find their passions and I follow them with my notebook, my heart and my love.
    From this series I have discovered how to make our home a place of wonder for all of us. And what a magical gift to us all that is.

    (Thank you so much Kate, you have inspired me beyond belief.)

    1. P.S I am an international reader – I like in the UK 🙂

      1. Becka Coates says:

        …live in the UK of course (although I like it there too ;-))

  20. channonsworldchannon says:

    Oh wow! We would be thrilled to win! I think that after reading these posts I will be more intentional in my planning, more thoughtful in my buying, and more patient with all of it. I think the things I have learned in your series will help the whole family.

  21. Australian Entry.
    This question was so huge to answer, so I thought I’d use my own preferred learning style and compile something fun for you! Here it is!

    What a month, so much to learn,
    My approach to play has changed so much,
    So many creations made, everyday,
    To love, invent and touch!

    We started with a Toy Cull!
    Loose parts, loose parts, galore,
    A Kitchen Garden, anyone?
    Hey! Another loose part on the floor!

    Put those in the Treasure Baskets,
    How about some Observational Drawing?
    Stop! Let’s be impulsive now,
    Outside for some exploring,

    Connecting with the natural world,
    Heuristic play for my little one,
    Montessori has changed our world,
    And it’s only just begun!

    Lets modify the sandpit,
    Pipes and tubes! Wow that can dig!
    Working with some real tools now,
    Did you just make a rig?

    Playdough scented, glittered for fun,
    We enhanced our materials with a book,
    A Play Invitation in our playroom,
    Always gets a second look,

    Our Ideas Book is mighty full,
    We now have Mirrors everywhere,
    We paint all day with Water Colours,
    There are leaves stuck in my hair!

    We love to play with new ideas,
    We made an hugely loved, Lightbox,
    Then we played with shadows and colours,
    And covered it with transparent blocks,

    Pretend Play happens in every corner,
    We’ve got hand puppets made from old socks,
    Reduce, reuse! We recycle it all,
    And it’s never just a cardboard box!

    Written by Tania Taranto!
    With many thanks and much appreciation for your wonderful, inspiring ideas and support!

  22. I’ve stepped back and watched my 27 month old. By slowing down & carefully observing him, I’ve discovered he’s the most engaged figuring out things in the real world-how latches work, worms burrow, paint mixes… I organized some loose parts and he played for an hour & was super proud of his work. I’ve been amazed that by simplifying he is more engaged & much happier. Less planning and more doing and just being are on our agenda for the upcoming months. Thank you for the inspiration& tools to follow his lead.

  23. I’m feeling inspired to create new and creative learning experiences and free play with loose parts. Create a variety of learning spaces to explore. I want to be envolved in my childs learning and for us to have more fun together. We have been visiting op shops for ideas and materials.

  24. Amy Linton says:

    Less & More

    Less one-off activities
    More multiple exposures
    Less mummy-led play
    More child-led explorations
    Less cheap plastic toys
    More feathers, shells and sticks
    Less tv
    More outdoors
    Less meltdowns and “I’m bored”
    More “I’m going outside to play”
    Less “I can’t do that”
    More “I have confidence”
    Less “Can you draw that Mum?”
    More happy, relaxed drawing
    Less “I don’t know what to do”
    More “Where’s my ideas book?”
    More intention
    More purpose
    More learning
    More connection
    More fun!

    Thank you so much for this wonderful series and giving me the opportunity to look at our play in a more intentional way. It has been a pleasure to look at how our play has evolved over the 30 days – and I’m sure it will continue to in the future.

  25. KARINA MUHARAM says:

    I have two daughters under the age of 5. My eldest daughter attends a Reggio Emilia inspired school in Singapore. Since going to the school, I noticed an increase in her ability to see potential and possibilities in simple and everyday objects to enhance her schooling experience. Your blog has helped me to incorporate the same elements at home. For example, working on the layout of the rooms has had a dramatic impact on their self play; they become immersed and lost in ‘play land’. Thank you for helping me bring Reggio Emilia into our home.

  26. nicole callahan says:

    When I found your posts about transformation we were already looking for something new. My 2 boys (2.5 & 4.5) were bickering constantly, I was exhausted at the end of the day, and we were all stressed. Something had to give. I decided it was the toys. Out went the box of broken toys from movies my kids never watch. In came the sticks, the chalkboard painted back porch, and the nuts & bolts from the hardware store. Out went the “No, don’t use THAT for THAT” or “Don’t make a mess.” In came privileging ingenuity and independence. Hauling bricks and saving worms, cooking and experimenting at the kitchen table, wearing tutus and superhero masks. It wasn’t so much that our world transformed but our attitude to it. I hadn’t even realized how different our play had become until I left our space. A few mom friends and I took our oldest boys to a cabin in the woods last weekend. My son peeled several lengths of bark from a log, then joyfully began to measure things all around the yard. The other moms just looked at him quizzically. I was so proud. He had come up with his own “work.” And found his creative happy place.

    1. nicole callahan says:

      U.S. 🙂

  27. This series has been so eye opening. I have learnt that less is definitely more and that when I slow down and engage with my child on their level that it is I who benefits from play time just as much as they do. Thank you for putting this together for all of us.
    Australian reader.

  28. Being a new mum it is very easy to get caught up in what my baby ‘should’ be doing by a certain time. I started to fall into the trap of worrying unnecessarily over little things and looking back, not enjoying the time I was spending with her. After following the play series I feel refreshed and like I’m back in track to have fun with my little girl and make every day the best we can. I am much more relaxed, and that helps my little girl relax and enjoy herself. I am very much looking forward to doing some of these activities as she gets older!

  29. Hello!
    This is tricky to answer! Firstly, I have questioned my initial responses to children’s needs – both my own and those I work with! I try to not say no, rather say ‘how’ or ‘why’ instead….I have found myself responding to the children’s queries, by asking the them what they want, need or desire in their play situation. I also love the element of surprise! For example, during the school hols, my girls were getting a bit tetchy, and I surprised them with a light try I had purchased, and they hadn’t used! They enjoyed thinking about items they could use, along with some gems and photo slides I provided!! I have let go, (at home at least, i am the parent I have to answer to!!), it is OK to jump on the trampoline in the pouring rain! (there was a fire and warm bath awaiting!!), and finally, I have begun gathering loose parts, especially plumbing pieces to make a waterwall in the bathroom! 🙂
    Thank you so much for your inspiration,
    An Australian Reader xx

  30. i am a teacher, and training to go into daycare. i have a 4 yr old, THis series has gave me so many inspirations and ideas for making the day such a more fun and exciting place to be!

  31. I love the ideas book. I got started with my 3-year-old. So many good tips! Now that it’s not too cold to go outside, time to get out there and maybe collect some interesting items. (from Canada)

  32. I’ve always loved and admired your blog and I have thoroughly enjoyed this series of posts. Your passion for children and the way they see the world is beautiful and so inspiring. This series has definitely added to our homeschool and inspired me to not only change a few things and see some things in a new light, it’s also made me re-think some of the ways we plan to organise the space in our house and I have been inspired to take some risks and really follow our childrens interests to the full! My favourite learning quote is “Play is children’s work” and even though I’ve always loved it, I’m going to take it even more seriously from now on.

    Thanks so much for putting in so much effort and love into this series, judging from the comments above mine, you’ve been a true inspiration!

  33. What a fantastic series. The part that has had the biggest influence on me was the post about ‘doing nothing’ but observing and being available. As a mama to three active little people with different abilities, needs and interests I realised I never do this and it was so liberating to realise that it was very much needed. My house may be a little messier and not all the jobs get ticked off in a day but my children are much more settled

  34. USA Entry: My special needs daycare is transitioning from a family daycare home with combined age groups to a center with separate classrooms for each age group. We have always tried to provide open-ended toys, embedded learning opportunities and child-directed activities in our play environment. Our approach to play has changed and continues to change because we are able to make the toys, activities and environment age specific to meet developmental needs of the children. Though we are under pressure to provide a school-like curriculum, we want to provide a play-based activity plan where learning is hands-on and child-directed and flexible based on the children’s interests and needs. Since we are in the middle of our transition, this effort is ongoing.

  35. You know I love and admire all you and Rachel do, and this series has been wonderful, in that it has slowed me down and refocused my efforts regarding my children and how we spend our days.

    We are still very much affected by the flooding of our town and our home last year, and efforts to rebuild, repair, and refresh continue. But through your series, I realized how my goals had changed, and the children- their play and education – had unintentionally taken a back seat to the other complications in our life. I have had some huge Mama-guilt over the last year, but I am trying to change as I realize their childhood is racing by! We are shorter on space than we were before, but I am trying to incorporate more cohesive play spaces for the boys, and not minding so much when they spill into other areas of the house. I am trying to say YES more often, when they come up with ideas of what they’d like to do. I am trying to stop and have MORE “want nothing” time. I am looking into their faces and we are having more connecting time than we have had in awhile, and this is drastically changing the spirit in our home and I LOVE IT.

    Another thing I’ve observed through this series, are weaknesses in myself. Things I need to change and work on, and that’s okay. Sometimes I leave things too much up to chance, and I realize how much more preparation I need to do so my children can play, invent, and imagine freely, and that is something that is worth my time.

    Thank you so much.

  36. I think this answer needs to incorporate my thinking over the last year as well as over the last month. When my now two-year-old daughter was a year old the majority of my peers started heading back to work. I started to hear a lot about the amazing activities their kids were doing at nursery and how great and educational it was – at the same time I discovered a new beguiling world on pinterest. Oh my days! So many activities… I thought I should be doing them all, maybe my girl was missing out? Since then I’ve slowly explored and refined my ideas, and reading this blog has really clicked with me and has been a big inspiration. I now often remind myself ‘materials not activities’. Over the course of the series we have moved house (from a gloomy 2 bed Victorian terrace to a light filled bungalow in the sticks!) and here there is a spare room that is now our art room! (Okay it’s a playroom really but I don’t want to lose that focus). Both the series and rest of your blog have really informed the set up; a coffee table from Ikea acts as a work space, with a mirror behind, and all the materials I’m happy for her to get her hands on are accessible (including pastels for the first time which are great), as are cleaning materials. I feel blessed so early on to have learnt I can stand back and watch her make her own discoveries, her own connections. This week without prompting from me I have watched her make a bed and blanket out of play dough to tuck a little man in, reenacting her favorite pretend play with a different medium and something I would never have thought of doing. She also started to pair up her play balls by colour with a cheery ‘hello’ as she introduces each pair. I bought the materials and she brought the ideas! Thank you for writing this series; it’s much appreciated. (From the UK)

  37. My approach to play has changed as my daughter has left babyhood behind. She’s into stacking and starting to try puzzles and we’re just trying a little bit of drawing and messy play. I love how her play changes constantly at this age as she learns more, it keeps me on my toes trying to make sure she has a few toys that can challenge her as well as the old favourites.

  38. This series came along at a huge point of change for our family – my daughter, SIL and 12mo granddaughter moved in with us this month! Suddenly my house is not just her daycare space three days a week while her mum works, but her permanent home and play space.

    As she turned one on the midst of all this, we have been discovering new play experiences: sand and water in the garden, crayons and play dough indoors and new toys from her birthday. But we are also merging two collections of playthings into one and trying to maintain normal activities in the midst of organisational chaos! So your posts have offered great guidance and inspiration 🙂

  39. My daughter has been diagnosed with speech delays and we are actively encouraging her to say more words and read her more books.

  40. thebigmango says:

    I came across this series part way through and went back and read all your posts along with lots of other older posts on your blog. Thanks so much for all your efforts.
    In terms of how it’s transformed our play – I have rearranged things to make a new furniture layout, added open access to materials, added more loose parts and culled a few toys. We’ve also made playdough and will be trying out some of your other suggested activities in the near future. Most significantly, I’ve learnt so much about the Reggio approach and have ordered a copy of Lori Pickert’s book.
    Thanks again, and I look forward to reading your future posts. (UK)

    1. thebigmango says:

      I forgot to say that the post the spoke to me the most was the one about the value of real tools. This is what we have been doing as I don’t like the cheap plasticky toy versions of things but you’ve given me some great ideas for extending this as my boy gets older.

  41. Ever since I’ve started following this series, there has been a momentous shift in my thinking about what play is and what play can be. This has made a huge impact on the way my children play now.
    1. Play area
    – Post toy cull, the play area has become very organized yet it is so flexible that it moulds to the way children want it to. We have a dedicated shelf for keeping art materials and loose parts.

    – The toys that they play with are neatly arranged on the shelf below with space around them.

    – Everything is so accessible now that it seems the kids’ ideas and materials work in tandem. Whether they want to add loose parts like pompoms, stones, sticks to their pretend farm house made with blocks or want to add pistachio shells to their play-dough snail, everything being so accessible & visible means they get to give shape to their ideas & imagination quickly.

    2. Play at a new level

    – Mirror : Whether it is play dough, clay, craft, bead stringing, block building, the mirror has added a new dimension. It’s like this new friend of theirs is building along with them.

    – Ideas book: My 5 year old liked the concept of book so much that she not only made one for keeping records she made one on pigeons which is her current interest… all by herself. Needless to say, we were thrilled.

    – Colour my world: I’ve been reading “The language of Art” & as you said I have begun to see art in a completely new way. Kids have used poster colours, finger paint, water colours, colours pencils, chalk pastels & have really expressed themselves very well through each of these medium. Their hands in paint, the paint on their faces and all over them not just means heightened creativity. It has really given them a new way to explore & express their world through colours.

    – Play dough / Clay
    One of the major hit has been play dough. Hours go by and they are not tired of this simple yet flexible play material.

    Kate, I’ve been following your blog for the past six months. My thinking has changed so much after reading your blog and this series. Still I feel that I have so much to uncover, read and understand. It is my dream to make this little world of theirs as best as I can so that not only it helps to bring out their best but also inspires them to find answers they seek. I have a challenge and a dream. My little one who doesn’t speak yet because of a medical condition (paralysed vocal chords) should be able to express her thoughts & ideas through “Hundred languages of children”. I’m not completely sure how it’ll happen but i’m determined to apply Reggio principles to give language to her.
    Kate, a big thank you all the way from India.

  42. Chris-Anne Turner says:

    Dear mummy,

    Thank you for opening your mind and your heart by changing my world. I feel now I have time just to be. Time to explore, time to discover and time to connect with the natural world. Giving me time has allowed me learn how to play with my open ended and natural materials. I love having time on the floor, looking at myself in the mirror and listening to the sounds my mouth can make as I laugh and talk. I love having time to relax and lie on the grass watching the wind move through the trees and listening to the birds. Most of all mummy, now that we are not rushing I love the time we spent together, In a world full of chaos, I love that I now have the time to simply be me.

    All my love,
    Your baby Evelyn (3.5 months)

  43. Wow, just found your blog. I’ve been teaching older grades and will be teaching K for the first time next school year. I’ve just started delving into the Reggio approach and I’m in love. I can’t wait to start next year! As to answer your question: it has just started. I am trying to incorporate more play based learning into my classes, especially math-but am still struggling on how to do this with language and teach my students all that my curriculum tells me I have to do. I am trying more word making, reading games with bottle tops, rhyming cards, it’s a struggle, but not one I’m going to quit on.

  44. Hi Kate, below is the PLAY TRANSFORMED acronyms of how my approach to Play has been changed. You and Rach have truly impacted my thinking and freed me from a lot of traditional/cultural thinking. I am excited to continue this journey of slowly but surely transforming the play in my home for the rest of they year. THANK YOU!Blessings!

    P ainting process became more important than the Product
    L oose Parts are thoughtfully considered to stimulate interest and enhance creativity
    A rrangement of Play began to look Oh so Inviting!(Aesthetics and choice of materials(e.g. use of glass jars and wooden materials to contain items took on a new importance and literally gave a new look.)
    Y es to ‘forbidden’ breakable materials like glass and ceramics to enhance Aesthetics and encourage real life handling and learning to occur.

    T ime for Nothing is wanting. Now I remind myself to be contented to be just present without conditions.
    R igidness to Flexibility. I learn to consider the kids’ interests instead of my own inclinations.
    A ctivity of their interests bade me observe their free play and get to know them better as individuals.
    N ature: A love for Nature slowly developed as we took time to observe (especially via observation drawings and painting) and discuss about our playtime in the parks, any greeneries we see along our paths.
    S pace set apart for Play and to create. When materials were placed on my converted baby cot, the kids began to show keener interests and initiate their own drawings, painting, collage etc. very frequently to my delight!
    F inding Books and using them to enhance play has always been a practice which gives a more meaningful Play experience.
    O bservational Drawing and Painting has sharpened their awareness of their surroundings and things around them. It also increased their attention span and eye for details. (This is also a practice I’ve been working on with them since young and agree with your series)
    R eal Tools will be a challenge as locally, set ups like telescopes, mini real versions of hammers or the like are not widely available nor cheap. Nontheless, others like kitchen tools are readily given to them and even recycled for sandplay. Next to muster courage for real knives under strict supervision.
    M irrors brought a new dimension and depth to their play. They enjoy the reflection and multiple perspectives of a set up. It brightened up set ups.
    E xploring Clay without reservations happened after your post. I was apprehensive of how it will turn out, and whether they can manage the technical aspects of it. When I just allowed for freedom of exploration, it became a fun and experiential process that All of us enjoyed! In addition, they learnt how to score and join the clay in their own big slabs of abstract clay! Imagine my gladness. : )
    D rama Set up was a low priority for me. Will be working on it and start searching for clothes and stuffs that could enhance this aspect of Imagination.

    I’m an International Reader. From Singapore.

  45. Shannonmcm3 says:

    Hi Kate
    To be honest, I found it hard to articulate an answer to your question. I even tried writing a fairytale to explain our journey but it sounded pretty lame so in the end I decided I could summarise how our play has changed in one word: CONSCIOUS. Thanks to you I am now more conscious of my children’s burgeoning interests and my invitations to play have changed accordingly. We’ve made smaller changes like adding tweezers and a notebook to our doctor kit but also bigger changes like cleaning the playroom, moving the painting supplies outside and trying our hand at observational drawings (a big hit by the way). There’s no going back now that we’ve started and for that, I thank you.

    Australian entry.

  46. Andrea Ball says:

    My approach to play has significantly changed. I have followed this post religiously. The first job was to cull the vast amount of toys accumulating. Anything that was broken or worn out had to go. Next everything in tubs with photo labels so that things can be found easily and quickly. This took a while. Now it’s time to tackle the sandpit. There is so much here that at the end of the day it’s just everywhere and takes a long time to pack up. I’m really excited about the next project and intend to work my way through all 30. Thank you so much sometimes all you need is a bit of inspiration.

  47. Your posts have been inspiring and rejuvenating I’ve been stuck at his school he doesn’t believe in the power of play so I was feeling the burn out I’m getting ready to start at a new school and can’t wait to implement so many of these ideas

  48. Thank you so much for the thoughtfully written (and depicted) and thought-provoking series on transforming play. I’m the mother of a soon-to-be three year old and reading the series provided me with so many ways of extending our play as well as new ways to view our play.

    As a family we try to live joyfully, simply, and deliberately so I very much appreciated the lack of emphasis on stuff/toys/things and the clear emphasis on time, togetherness, and creative exploration. As a former high school English teacher I found myself in new territory as a stay-at-home mom. I had been accustomed to planning and organizing and teaching teenagers, so I dove right in reading about Montessori, Waldorf, un-schooling, tot-school, and so on to best prepare myself for teaching our son. I found myself excited and then overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of information and the seamless implementation of it in the blogosphere. And frankly, for our family, I felt like it required a lot of “stuff” (beautiful though it may be) and time preparing activities (which we did and found most to be short-lived in terms of maintaining interest). Your line about wanting to offer your children experiences not just activities really resonated with me.

    I took away some great ideas that we’ve implemented from the aforementioned philosophies: observe the child, help him achieve independence and do things for himself, incorporate natural materials as well as quality materials, and the value of establishing and living a family rhythm. Your series; however, seemed to provide what I didn’t know I was searching for but definitely realized it as I read the series: freedom. Freedom to explore. Freedom to create. Freedom to do what works for us. And most importantly, the freedom to do those things without expectation or judgment.

    I grew up thinking there was a right way to do things and I certainly wasn’t going to disappoint anyone by messing up so I became driven to “get things right.” Once our son was born, I realized that was a stifling mindset and knew I wanted him to be comfortable taking risks, trying new things, and freely exploring without the weight of “getting it right.” Boy did reading about the theory of loose parts send this message home for me! For example, until now, we’d only played with cookie cutters and play-dough tools with play-dough. After seeing the beautiful creations with loose parts, I see how wonderful it is to let him stick all manner of things in the dough from rocks to pinecones.

    Since reading the series, we’ve incorporated mirrors into our play (near our block area), made some tree blocks together from old branches in our yard, and set up a nature table that we filled with things we foraged together from our neighborhood. (I set out a magnifying glass and some pencils and a homemade drawing “book”, but our son preferred to simply handle the different materials, although he did try to trace the bark!) The culmination of your series coincided with a trip to the ocean (we live near Chicago where we’ve had a long and cold winter) which was wonderful because we found new treasure for our table: shells, some pinecones unlike ours at home, and some coral. We also played with the seaweed on the beach–incorporating it into the molds of castles we built with the sand–all his idea! Also, in his Easter basket we tucked some post-it notes, stickers, and a calculator (inspired by the series) and immediately after seeing the notes, S ran to his table, made a scribble on a post-it, ran back over to each of us (and the dog, who received about eight) and told us it said “Happy Birthday” as he stuck it on us!

    In the future I hope to incorporate a light table into our play; I’m already perusing Craigslist for a used one to see what fun we can have with it next winter. Other than that though I realized after reading the series that we’re really blessed and already have so many things around the house and in our back yard to use for play. Thank you for highlighting that the gifts of time and attention, as well as the freedom to create and explore on this journey without judgment and expectation, are what truly matter. I appreciate you investing the time to share your experiences as a mama. A truly inspiring and liberating series! All the best to you and yours.
    Sincerely,
    Misty (an International reader)

  49. your post was an excellent reminder to me about the capabilities of children no matter what their age. I have a few resources already and though may be deemed by most more suitable for older children I have taken out and displayed for my 20 month old. (I regularly change what things we have out in the baskets near his play table) your post though reminded me though that its ok for him to have a strong interest and to go with and add to that rather than just change things to steer him in different directions to try different things. I already try to avoid plastic products unless the are conducive to constructive play and exploration e.g lego, animal/people figurines etc but it is hard educating others not to purchase junky colourful plastic as gifts etc. but the toy cull inspired me to go through everything again! I am lucky to be in the middle on renovations inside our house, so can take into consideration ideas for space etc in our main living area.

  50. I have loved this series. My mother is a firm Reggio fan- designing play gardens for preschool in this style. All month I would come in exclaiming about that days post and what we were doing differently- because every day there were changes. our playroom shelf has been stripped of the plastic and the toys are being played with because they are seen. Play dough is back in favor and the collection of loose parts that I had collected (because I saw people use them online so I should have them too) are actually being used!
    My favourite post though was the last one on being outside, and as I recounted to my mother- interacting with nature not on the tramp or the playground. I have always desperately tried to get my 4 year old interested in something. I have always wanted to do a Reggio exploration about something he loves but could never get it past the initial stage. But… getting him in nature- well now I my eyes have been opened to his special love of nature. I knew he loved learning the tree and bird names. I knew he loved checking the swan plant for caterpillars and chrysalis, feeding the birds and his grannies fish. I knew he could sit and watch a flow of water all day long, but I had never put that all together. Now that i have sat back and watched him, and taken the time to really understand where his passion lies, we are flying with ideas and investigations. We are currently sprouting avocado pips, growing sunflowers, adding to the bird feeder to investigate what food they like, making water walls and streams in the sandpit, but best of all we have embraced our local park, which has a stream running through it. We love going down and seeing the ducks, investigating flow rates after floods, checking buoyancy of different sticks we find and generally getting to k now the particular environment of our local place. He loves it and I love that we have finally found his passion.
    Thank you. 🙂

  51. Thank you! This was amazing. Being a homeschooler and a fan of reggio and montessori I did a lot of the things suggested already. What it helped with was seeing the bigger picture though. How to bring it all together and help my kids deepen their play and explore their interests more rather than flitting from one activity to the next. Loved it! Also loved sharing with my friends so they could understand what we’re actually doing and why!!

    (from Australia)

  52. Jamie costales says:

    What do a strainer, bungee cord, rubber band, playmobile character, blocks, toilet paper tube, and slipper all have in common?-they are all pieces of a utopian society my 4 and 5 yr old sons have created, where animals and humans live harmoniously and are sometimes interchangeable. This is play on our house. I have had to completely let go of the idea that they will use sets and kits together. They dig up and drag out all kinds of random things and make a big “mess” of the house. I am amazed at what kinds of things they think up. Best toys for kids, I have learned, are things that have unlimited potential for the imaginative child. That’s where I’m at right now.

  53. First, our home’s interior landscape was transformed. We culled the dining table and made the available space into our family workshop. This is now a play space, a learning space, a studio. Art supplies came out of the locked cabinet and are now chosen freely when inspiration bubbles forth. Our family of four is now creating art and construction projects and sculptures and collaborative art each day, often while we eat dinner, picnic style on the floor. Meal times are calmer, art is filling our home, yesterday my 4.5 year old son sauntered into our new space and said, “Mmmm…I have some work to do.” And then proceeded to truly work, for nearly an hour. I am amazed.

    We are now finding playthings and treasure everywhere. A visit to the river yields driftwood and round pumice stones and we haul them back and bring them inside. Baubles and buttons and willow branches and bear grass and glitter add to the white backdrop of lovely scented playdough. Their immediate world, our home, has been transformed in that almost everything they wish to use is accessible to them now. My boys 4.5 and 2, own this space. There is no “we aren’t doing that right now”. They know what they want to create and they go and create. Yes, we continue to work on helping each other clean up, and yes bits of cut paper end up in places they don’t belong. Our playspace, our creative space, our family space has evolved into something that is alive. We are scholars! We are learning! We are artists! We are creating! We cannot be bothered by a bit of errant glitter!

    Our oldest boy. The one who has been so passionate about Elk for the past six months, absorbing all he can about them, acting like them in play, wanting stories and books about them, painting them, drawing them, molding them, dreaming them, our son who not yet knowing how to write his own name, saw the basket of letter tiles I placed out in view and states he wants to learn to write Elk and Antlers and Bull…In this past month, I have now learned that we are not his teachers. We are his collaborators, his studio support crew, the people he can bounce ideas off of, the folks who can help him get the materials he needs and get him where he needs to go for further learning. Whether this passion lasts for another week or another year, I see now we are just along for the ride, for however long it lasts.

    Play has transformed for us in that what I have long suspected with our sons seems to be true: the play is the learning, the passion leads to focus and calm and the desire to learn is unbounded when self-directed. And for my part, there is no fear or at least a lot less of it. No fear that they will not learn, this, those and that, unless I do all of these steps I must follow if they are to learn all they should or could. No fear. Just passion, and freedom for our family to explore together.

    Thank you both for your inspiration and this opportunity!

    Amanda (in New Mexico, USA)

  54. Well it started with a toy cull slash organization. The one I was going to do months ago… but the night I bought containers I went into labour, so it never happened. So thanks for the push to get that done!

    Now on a note of inspiration…this series has been most inspiring. Before I had my babies I taught yoga for kids, adventure camps, theatre for kids, and was a Sparks leader. I was always doing play based programming for children, but they were five years old and up. Your series (and your blog in general) helped me realize that you can start doing these things when your children are much younger. I was excited and inspired to add different elements to our play. It is just the beginning, but we have been having a great time with your ideas and suggestions.

    I came across your blog initially with my interest in Reggio Emilia, I looked into a preschool here in my city but it was four days a week and I really did not feel comfortable with that. Instead in the Fall my son will be attending a Forest preschool one day a week and I plan on doing a home based preschool. This is an inspiration that will shift what we do for all of next year! So a big thank you! I will look back to all your posts regularly and it will be a big help with my planning.

    Oh and I really want to have a play date at your house! Too fun!!

    Juli from Vancouver Canada

  55. The gift for our family from this series has been to actually let go of ideals of perfection and embrace intentionality. As an Australian home educator too often I’ve found myself caught up in trying to get something “just right”. The ideas on blogs and Pinterest and the like are fabulous, but too often I’ve thought that I couldn’t do it as well as they’ve been presented. Diligently stepping through your series was a gentle reminder that what I need to do is watch our children more and be lead by them. Thank you.

    Sorting through our “stuff” and storing things we didn’t need out at the moment (yes, in labeled plastic crates) meant we could relegate a now empty cabinet to the garage. The space left behind in the school room helped with the transformation. Toys, tools and books were ordered in a way that responds to our children and their interests and development abilities. Space to spread out and play and tinker with carefully chosen pieces, to use our notebooks, to relax and be content.

    The mood is now very different and their play more focused. Yes, play definitely transformed. Our heartfelt thanks to you both.

  56. J Barrett says:

    While our toys have always been pretty much organised thanks to following you guys for a while, this series has reminded me how important it is to keep going through and updating things in accordance with my childrens interests, they are growing and changing so fast that their play environment needs to keep up!
    It has renewed my enthusiasm for setting up more and for identifying and building on their interests and being more aware of what will encourage them to explore more.
    It has also reinforced the importance of nature, natural and quality materials and fostering a connection with nature.
    As others have said, its so very hard to put into words how this series has helped us, but I suppose to sum it up it has renewed my enthusiasm and my children thank you for it!

  57. Nina (Oxford, UK) says:

    Dear Kate and Rachel,

    I have been following your blogs for about a year now and you are both so inspiring. I have been improving our play spaces and our play slowly but steadily ever since. However, the TYP series really got me thinking about how I view MY children’s play and I became more passionate then ever to be there for THEM.

    I became to observe more…
    I became to realise what makes them tick…
    I became to accept them for what they are…
    I became excited about their interests…
    I became to say YES even more often…

    My dream of homeschooling/unschooling became even stronger…

    This morning, upon returning to work after a long holiday, I looked out into our empty garden… There was no little girl feeding the chickens and no little boy searching for ladybirds… Too quiet and too tidy… And I sat down and I cried…

  58. Christine says:

    First, let me just say if your posts were a book my copy would be dog-eared and have coffee stains & scribbles ALL over it!! This series has been completely refreshing, motivating, and inspiring and for that – THANK YOU!!

    I’m not sure how I came across your blog here in the United States, but I have been following it since last July. I had just resigned from a lucrative job to become a stay at home mom to my now 4 & 1 yr old. People ask me all the time why I did it wondering if it was a guilt driven decision and I have said that I just wanted more. I wanted more opportunities to see my children discovering the world – see that spark in their eyes when they figure something out or when they create that special piece of work. I have no background in childhood development and am so thankful to have found sites like yours that have taught me to be more observant, to bring nature INDOORS, and to set up provocations for play and discoveries.

    Since July, off and on I had rearranged our play space, dabbled in different suggested activities, incorporated books with toys, began allowing my daughter to bring her rock/stick/leave collections inside. Although I noticed a more calming environment, our daily activities seemed disjointed from what we had out. We were not using the natural materials – they just sat on the shelf with other toys/materials. Along comes your series…

    Over the course of the month (and I’m still working through all the posts) – I have physically touched, sorted, grouped every book, toy, & art material we have in our house. You have made me realize that what I had been doing for years in my previous career I should have been doing with our collection of toys/art materials – Sort, Systematize, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain! The 5 S’s of play!!! Our shelves have been sorted, arranged in ways that are easily accessible, made aesthetically pleasing, made the space easy to tidy, and created a make shift system for toy rotation. Tailoring the shelves to my children’s top interests have resulted in more items being used and they now regularly put it all back!! AMAZING!!

    In doing the 5 S’s of play, I brought the nature items out front – the playdough activity was transformative for us. My kids were not so shocked by the lack of color, but by the ability to use the outdoor items they had been collecting this whole time! Before your series, my daughter’s interest surrounded castles and she had built them using blocks but as soon as she was able to build a castle using sticks and rocks and pine cones and the other items we had on hand, her creativity and ideas just exploded! She even incorporated footprints of the “bad guys” using a sweet gum ball from a sweetgum tree! We haven’t tried using the clay yet, but I know she will be elated knowing her creations can stay up without drying out!! I’m so excited for that too!

    I brought natural items (beans!) into my son’s kitchen play and he has been in heaven! Beans! He can stand there scooping and pouring and shaking for hours. Not only that, but we have taken about 6 trips to our local thrift store over the past month and the real kitchen tools/bowls/baskets that were found have completely enhanced his level of play! I am now addicted to thrift stores!

    I think the area that I’m trying to grow the most for us is making Art a priority. We already had a writing/drawing area which entailed crayons, pencils, and markers that was used daily, however, we were not getting into the paints and pastels and other materials very frequently. In this past month, we have followed your suggestion for using only a few colors at a time and allowed both children to blend their own paints. My daughter had so much to say during her different color mixing and created some pieces of work. My son’s work was mostly on his paint pallet and he was so proud. For both kids, the excitement was at its peak in the midst of the work and not at the end. This has made me realize that Art IS all around. The Mirror activity inspired me to bring ART outside not just for the sake of keeping the house cleaner, but to observe and see the natural art that surrounds us. We have done two outdoor drawing sessions with mirrors and items that we collected from outside. It has been such a wonderful relaxing experience for me and the kids. This will definitely be a weekly activity for us once summer vacation starts at the end of the month!

    Overall, thank you for all the inspiration you provide on a daily basis! You have made a huge mark on this stay at home mom. Thank you!!

  59. International reader here from South Africa!

    Oh I’m so excited about this! In fact I’ve been excited for the past month, each morning looking forward to being inspired by your next post.

    How has my approach to play changed? Easy. I now see my daughter as an artist. She has become creative, inspired and productive, and filled with ideas and abilities I did not know she had. Art has become our play of choice, everyday objects our beautiful art materials and toys, and play has lost its rules. I never would have thought to try what I had deemed ‘grown up’ art projects with a child her age (she is almost 3). By giving her an inviting environment and interesting tools, she has shown me into her ‘small world’, and amazed me with what she is capable of.

    It felt like we had forgotten how to play. She was at home bored and becoming behavioural, not yet at school, and battling with the arrival of her baby brother (4 months). Your posts inspired me, we made changes, and the difference in her quality of play was amazing. I LOVE seeing her happy at work in her ‘atelier’, creating, experimenting and constructing away. And when baby sleeps, I far more enjoy playing with her, observing and tinkering with the beauty around us. The fact that her play area now looks so beautiful is a very welcome bonus!

    I feel so grateful that my daughter has had the opportunity to experience free, full, artful play, and that I have been able to discover the artist inside her amazing little self. Thank you thank you thank you!

  60. Put simply, we’re making connections.

    I’ve always wanted my children to learn through play and have meaningful experiences with me, his family and others and with his environment.

    I was lucky enough to stumble across your blogs when my now two year old son was a few months old so have implemented a lot of the things you have suggested and have been inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach.

    However, although I set up activities etc, I don’t think I fully understood the philosophy and then lost my way after my second son was born sleeping six months ago. My husband left me during this time and my son and I have moved house so it’s been a hectic time and sadly ‘play’ hasn’t been the priority I wanted it to be. We have continued to do a lot of it but it has been uninspired and I have been going through the motions rather than really being involved. However a new home (with floor to ceiling windows and views across the rolling countryside) has been a perfect opportunity to review our living and play environment.

    Your series has helped us to reconnect with each other and rediscover the joy of simply ‘being’ together and sharing little wonders. Whether this is through ‘proper’ play or preparing dinner or cleaning together. My son is noticeably making connections in his play, transferring his knowledge from one area to another. People have commented on his language skills recently and I love the way we connect at the end of the day as he chats about his new discoveries (tonight’s being naming the animals who live in homes underground and wondering where other animals live -something to discover tomorrow?) as he drifts off to asleep, his hand in mine.

    I am making connections with how the Reggio Emilia approach works through following this series. I now leave activities out to be worked on so ideas can develop. I am constantly looking for connections in his current interests in our every day life and to enhance play. Loose parts have played a huge role! I’d love to give examples as I have so many of what he has been doing over the last month but I’m conscious that this is becoming very long-winded! Ok, sorry, I have to share a couple -he loves vehicles and normally I will just get the basket of trains out for him but now this play involves tickets from a journey we took, loose parts (gems, shells, pebbles, pine cones) for setting the scene and as cargo to be transported, a mirror, an old street/railway map and of course, my old childhood book ‘Thomas the Tank Engine Goes Fishing’. it has been extended through playdough and moondough. He made connections through previous play with diggers (we rotate vehicles to avoid being over-run with them!) and turned his train into a logging train (from a sustainable forest of course :-)) I could go on…

    I feel particularly connected to my angel boy whenever we are absorbed in nature, which we have been doing a lot lately, whatever the weather. And of course when I silently observe my other son at play, I see what wonderful brothers they would have been.

    Your posts about art have made the biggest impact I think as I have shied away from it before. Process rather than product really speaks to me. Art outside has been lots of fun, as has bringing mirrors out to gain a new perspective.

    I hope I can continue to see the world through my child’s eyes and that through these early experiences, he is able to continue to see the wonder into adulthood and harness this youthful enthusiasm and thirst fro knowledge.

    I’m not sure whether we are constantly learning or constantly playing but whichever it is, we are doing it together. We are connecting with each other, with others and with the world around us and it is beautiful. Thank you.

    1. Forgot to say I’m in the UK 🙂

  61. Hello.
    Thank you for the series and for the wonderful giveaways. Whether I win one or not, this contest has prompted me to think about this series that I have been reading over Feedly and dreaming about the past month.
    I have recently shifted from Adelaide to Canberra (Australian entry) with my 18 month old daughter. Unfortunately my partner could not shift with me, so am a single mom on weekdays and alternative weekends. Studying and getting used to a new city, as well as trying to sort out childcare as well as my reactions to it, has meant that I have mostly read the posts rather than being able to actually do those things alongside the blog posts.
    What it did for me, though, was open up a world of possibility. Here I am, in many ways making a new start, though my partner is very involved in our lives. Now is the time to figure out – what sort of mom do i want to be? Even if my daughter is in childcare a couple of days a week, what do I want to do with the rest of the time that we are together? I think I want to work towards creating an environment that is both fun and challenging, that both respects her the way she is while suggesting possibilities for things she can do. I have been gathering materials and am going to read up on Reggio and project based homeschooling. I plan to start implementing this series one step at a time as soon as possible. Already, when our stuff arrives from Adelaide, I plan to cull toys even as I set her playroom up. Next on my list are mirrors. You’ve given me a sense of purpose, and saved me from just drifting meaninglessly without a plan, offering her whatever came to hand.
    Thank you for introducing me to Reggio. It speaks to me.

  62. Over the last month, my approach to play has become more mindful. I’ve really enjoyed observing my son to identify what play he instigates and really enjoys, and what play was being squeezed in between other ‘life’. I’ve enjoyed giving him more opportunities for varied types of play, instead of just ‘you go and play while I do xyz’. Nature play, art play, wants nothing play, independent play, dress up play… I am loving it all! And of course, more importantly, so is he! Art play has become my new favourite. An ice cube tray, two colours plus white… you’ve changed my life, Kate! Thanks for a fabulous series 🙂 Kathryn (Qld)

  63. I have enjoyed reading along for the month and as a result have made a lot of changes at our place – I’ve culled all the old (crappy, plastic) toys, considered very carefully and critically before buying new (open-ended) toys, implemented a toy rotation system (with much success – the kids are actually playing with the toys!), started incorporating mirrors into our play and activities, and paid more attention to setting up the kids’ play spaces. But the one small tip that I have picked up and run with – which has made a huge difference in our house – is BASKETS!! I scoured the op shops for an assortment of wicker baskets in different sizes and shapes. I bought big ones, small ones, coloured ones and handled ones. We now have baskets in every room of the house – baskets for books, baskets for blocks, baskets for craft supplies, baskets of duplo, a playdough basket, and a nature basket. I have gone basket crazy – but with good reason. They look great – no matter where they are in the house, toys look great in a nice basket! They are transportable – just pick up the art basket (with jar of textas, scissors, glue, tape, stickers, paper, and notebook) and you are good to create – whether it be downstairs, in the backyard, or down at the park! They make toy rotation a breeze – simply empty the baskets back into stackable containers for the toy cupboard and tip new toys into the baskets! They are inviting. They are accessible. They are movable. They can be individualised. I could wax lyrical about baskets all day. Seriously, they are THAT good. If you haven’t done it already – give baskets a go at your place. I bet you (and your kids) will love them too 🙂

  64. I am Latvian mother living in Spain and it was a great pleasure for me to follow these 30 days stories. I´m former high school teacher and education still is my hobby. As I´m working mother, my 2 boys (2 and 4 years old) every day have school and kindergarten until 5.00 or 5.30 o´clock. Then we go to the park, music school or swimming pool. We have little time to spend together and that´s why I´d like that time could be mean full for them.

    We have a very small flat in the city center and each boy has very small room. But here, near the Meditation sea, we do have sunny weather almost every, parks near our home so we can do sport and a lot of outdoor activities. Recently we rented a country house in the mountains for the weekends and holydays. There we are really happy as everybody can spend their time doing their favorite things – gardening, jugging, sand play, playing Indians, reading etc. (We do not have TV there at all).

    Right now we already are doing a lot of things you wrote about but I can affirm you help me a lot. I felt these emails I was getting every day were exactly for me in the right time. I felt I am not alone in my challenge to educate bilingual kids in a foreign country. You encourage me to spend more time together with my boys and to have more family time. I discovered Reggio inspired activities, mirrors, lights, loose parts and I am inpatient to try it. Thank you very much and I am looking forward for the new series.

    P.S. I know my comment is out of time but I just wanted to share my feelings.

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