Blog written by: Rosel
One of our families generously donated a wooden barn to the centre. The toy alternated between a barn and a dollhouse. For the latter, plastic furniture and dolls were added. The house became a fantastic addition to the Chickadee room and used not only by the Chickadees and Infants, but by the older children towards the end of the day. Overtime, the children’s interest in the house waned, reducing the house as merely daycare space filler. For the house to encourage play and support learning for children of all ages, a renovation was overdue.
The first step was deciding on a layout. The goal was to design something both familiar and whimsical, a toy that children related to but slightly sprinkled with fantasy elements. Due to the Chickadees’ interest in imaginative play like caring for babies while the older children enjoyed taking on family roles, I chose to create a home. The house allowed them to explore that play on a smaller scale and from a different perspective. The house included spaces that were possibly found in children’s homes while the attic served as an indoor playground.
The second step was to design the house. I used leftover paint and contact paper for the walls and floor. Most of the furniture and decorations were created with various loose parts like Jenga blocks, dominoes, wooden containers, wood cookies, cubes, glass vials, old jewelry, calendar photos, and scrap wood. The items were embellished with white paint, contact paper, spices, and other craft materials. Flexible items were also constructed like a refrigerator to store loose parts, light fixtures, a tire swing, and even a moving toilet.
The last step was to find a spot in the room to place the house. A space with ample room for children to play yet provided a comfortable setting. I created a cozy area by elevating the floor with gym mats and a carpet near the window. The corner also included quiet materials like puzzles, books, and pillows. On the first day I reintroduced the dollhouse, the last two children at daycare immediately gravitated towards it and played together.
What started out as wanting a dollhouse for the children to play with turned into reflecting what children value and deserve. After tapping into my inner child, the environment has changed to foster more language, divergent thinking, social skills, and emotional development for all ages. Children deserve durable materials that are aesthetically pleasing, provoke learning, inviting, and encourages children to interact with one another. Quality materials can be as simple as scrap wood or an old box. Just like children who easily utilize their creativity and imagination, adults can too. Doing so can generate a positive learning environment and most importantly, plenty of fun!
Music: “Pure Imagination” by Rook1e