if you have been following along with me on instagram, #ardiplayvillage, you’ll have seen little snippets of progress on this fun answer to concise play. all in a small footprint of about 6’x6′. then this morning my studio 5 segment aired debuting my finished product. nothing like an imposed deadline to get a personal project completed!
my goal was to create with space working around the existing toys that we had and that were used the most often. so other than the hooks and the kitchen i built, all items were ones we already owned. i also love this approach because it puts a limit on the number of toys that will fit in the space. if we wanted to add items, then some existing items will need to be donated or given away to make room. it makes the discussion about toys and what to buy much more manageable because there is a clear picture of what will and will not fit. that makes me happy. the toy struggle is real.
after completing the prep work, here’s what it looked like when the silhouettes were all painted out. add in a few hooks and brackets and that all the groundwork that needs to be laid for this project. i used command hooks for most of these so there will be virtually no signs left behind when it comes time to paint over this area.
here is a look at the final product!can you believe it that a few hooks and some paint transformed this otherwise wasted space into a functional play area? in addition to the hooks and toys, a handful of paper goods really take this concept to the next level and add an element of realism and personalization to the play. here’s a breakdown:
doctor’s office/hospital (stephens medical center )
- eye chart quote (mimics an eye chart while adding some color and a cheerful phrase.
- patient examination form FREE PRINTABLE (what child doesn’t love to write or pretend to write and fill out a form?!)
- mini clipboard (for the patient examination form)
- lab coat (adds a dress up element to further add to the realism)
- doctor equipment (a doctor bag, not pictured and shares the lab coat hook, organizes the dr. play accessories)
- mini file folders and metal divider (provides storage for blank forms, x-ray transparencies, and patient files)
- measuring border (marked out in 1/2 inch increments up to 4′ for measuring the “patient’s” height)
restaurant/kitchen (le gourmet cafe)
- custom made shelving and kitchen (made to allow bedroom door to open completely, features sink with faucet positioned near the hospital side to allow for cross use, under sink storage (does that fabric look familiar?), oven, 2 burner stove, “counter space” for cutting boards and utensils, dish & pots and pans storage)
- hook for pot holder and aprons (another example of a dress feature included in each station)
- custom menu (created using existing play food laid out and photographed on foam core to create a functioning menu for play -scroll down to see example)
(example of the inside of the menu. the layout is simple and to point and i used numbers to designate the menu items since that was more appropriate for the age of my kids. if you kids can read or are learning to read, simple captions can help reinforce learning while making it fun.)
shop/dress up (tres chic boutique)
- cash register & play money (adjacent to the restaurant for overlapping use, also great for learning money denominations and simple math for change)
- hooks for accessories and dress up clothing
- sale signage (to reinforce the shop feel)
- dress up clothes (here’s a tip: i try to avoid the licensed princess dress up gear for a number of reasons, but mainly the low quality of the materials/fabric/construction. they also tend to be expensive and not last very long and are not usually machine washable. so instead i buy special occasion dresses from places like kid to kid. they have the fancy princess feel and are made of actual fabric. i check the tag for the care instructions and avoid anything that is dry clean only or had a lot of beading. they average about $8-15+ a dress, depending on the size, brand, and detail. do you have any favorite dress up tips to share?)
also, the great thing about this project is that you can tailor it specifically to your child’s interests and existing toys. create a “zoo” for your child that loves stuffed animals, a music shop for the one who loves instruments, a library for your reader, a natural history museum for your dino lover, or an art museum for your budding artist, and we could go on forever. so many options! and if you have the space, you could create your own mini city!