A few of you who’ve visited our blog for awhile may remember when we took our unfinished basement and made it into a playroom (read here and here to see how we made a bright and fun playroom for very little cost!) In the past few weeks, I’ve put in a few changes that have made it more fun and functional. In thinking about how the room is used, we realized that the things our children most often play with are 1) Dress Up Clothes 2) Knex and 3) Lego Blocks. I decided to focus on organizing those three things really well, and lump the other stuff together as much as possible. Here’s what we did.
For dress-up clothes, I made a dress up closet. It was so simple, I wonder why I didn’t think of it years ago. I bought two queen-sized flat sheets (Walmart), and stapled them in a pleated fashion to the unfinished basement ceiling. I put some self-adhesive hooks on the walls, and the children can now hang up their clothes instead of stuffing them into a box. The clothes stay neater and cleaner, and it is just so fun having a walk-in closet for their dress up clothes!
In addition to being a dress up closet, the closet has found a few other uses as well. it’s been used as a prayer closet by one of our children. In Summer, we expect it to be a good place for a few kids to change into bathing suits (we store bathing suits in the children’s lockers, in the same room). The closet also a great hiding spot for Hide and Seek…
Next: Knex. We have a large collection of Knex, and small pieces tend to get lost in the bottom of the box. Lost pieces encourage children to dump out the entire box to search for them, and cleaning up the overabundance of little pieces can take quite a while! It seemed as though sorting the Knex in some way would serve us well. We decided to sort into three simple categories: Rods, Connectors, and Wheels & Special Pieces.
We put ours in our sliding bin system (IKEA).
What is this Swoop Bag I speak of, you ask?
It. is. pure. genius.
A Swoop Bag is a canvas play mat with a thick nylon drawstring around the edging. The children play with their Legos spread out over the mat, in a thin layer where they can see all the pieces they are looking for.
Then, when they are finished playing, they pull on the cord…
and the mat pulls up into a bag, bringing those thousands of tiny Legos inside.
Here is our playroom from a wider angle:
Notice the little box, right bottom shelf, with the orange bag in it? THOSE are the Legos. And the top two shelves, also on the right side? Those are the children’s Lego and Knex creations. When the creations can’t fit on a shelf, they need to take something apart to make room for it.
And oh, oh! Those red and pink bins on the left side? Nothing earth-shattering here, but I love the labels, Guys and Dolls. ;-)
“Guys” are the red bins, containing Army guys, race cars, small pirates and other things that boys love. “Dolls” are the pink ones, containing Polly Pockets, Little Ponies, little bitty shoes, and other tiny girly things. No micro-sorting here!
Here’s the playroom from a different angle, where you can see our much-loved lockers and hanging vegetable baskets.
And of course, I have to brag on my father-in-law, who built those awesome trucks that you see lined up on top of the lockers, one truck for each of our boys. We recently had to send those trucks in to Pap’s Auto Body Shop for some repair work after Sonshine decided to try to ride the trucks. He sent them all back with a fresh coat of paint, some new wheels, and a new “PAP MOTORS” logo on the back. (Each boy’s name is on the front.)
Now, if I can just manage to organize that garage…