Organising resources- Guest- Hummingbirds at Play
The second of our guest posts in this mini-series this week, Jo from Hummingbirds at play is a childminder so has lots of resources and great ideas for how to keep them in check! Take it away, Jo:
Welcome to Rabbit Ideas! Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi I am Jo, a Childminder based in Somerset. I have been Childminding for a year now, before which I worked as a Family Support Worker in two Bristol schools. Prior to that I have worked as a nanny and in nurseries.
I live with my husband and two boys, 3&5. I am passionate about early years, outdoor learning, providing play opportunities for children and enabling environments for them to thrive in.
How would you describe the space you have, to use with your children at home?
I would describe the space I use with the children at home as versatile. The downstairs of my home is a mainly open plan space with bi-folding doors which separate the playroom from the living/dining space. These doors remain open for the majority of the time and the children have free flow throughout the space. Our playroom has French doors which lead out onto our main garden. During the warmer months these doors remain open and the children can move freely between the indoors and outdoors. We are also lucky enough to have two gardens. The front garden is slightly smaller but all on one level so its perfect for crawling babies. In the height of the summer it also offers the most shade. Our main garden which leads off from the playroom has two patio areas, as well as an adventure play corner which, although rustic, has stone and sand pits, a climbing platform, giant chalkboard, balancing logs and stepping stones as well as mud kitchen supplies.
Which items would you say pose the biggest organisational problem?
For me one of the items I find most difficult to organise are the puzzles. I find that most puzzle boxes are not easily accessible for the children, and most puzzles require the use of the picture on the box. I try and combat this by offering wooden shape puzzles which I rotate regularly and smaller 2, 3 and 4 piece puzzles I’ll pop in a basket. The larger puzzles I tend to get out as more of a structured activity.
In addition to this craft supplies!! I have a habit of buying interesting crafty bits, shove them in the cupboard and then promptly forgetting I have them!! I am forever scouring Pinterest for ways to store them, and move things around regularly, so that they are accessible and not forgotten!
Are there any flashpoint areas or rooms where things tend to build up?
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say my craft cupboard!! I use a dresser which is semi hidden behind one of the playrooms bi-folding doors and I usually just pile stuff up there until I can’t bare it any longer and have a blitz! I also keep a large amount of my resources in a porch off the kitchen and this area seems to get hugely cluttered especially if I am trying to tidy up/find something in a rush!
Is there anywhere you would go to online to find organising inspiration or tips?
Without a doubt Pinterest is my go to for online inspiration. It is full of such cool hacks, some of which I never would have considered. In addition to this, I love seeing pictures on Instagram of people’s play spaces and getting ideas.
Have you found any habits or systems of organising your day which have helped?
I tend to try and get out and about in the morning. This works for me practically because the younger children I care for tend to sleep in the afternoon, but it also prepares the children both physically and mentally ready for focused play later in the day. I find that they tend to play more calmly and more imaginatively if they have spent time outdoors previously. Sometimes we may use natural resources we have found on our morning adventures in our play and craft activities, other times we simply settle down in the afternoon for quiet play. I tend to only have limited toys and resources out at once, and wherever possible display things that can be used in conjunction with each other. I also try to rotate these toys every few weeks.
Are there any products or storage hacks which have really worked?
Because my business is based at my home, there are certain things that I need, but I don’t necessarily want on display all the time. One hack I use to store children’s coats, bags, shoes etc is to hang ‘S’ shape hooks on the radiator in the hall with a basket underneath. The children’s bags and coats can be hung up and shoes/hats/toys from home etc can be put in the basket. When all the children have gone home I simply lift of the hooks and put the basket under the stairs.
Using baskets is a great way of keeping toys and books rotated and ‘fresh’. It also means the baskets can be moved around the playroom, house or garden, depending on where we are playing at the time.
Finally, I use picture shelves from Ikea and display a selection of books on these. It really saves space and they can be easily rotated and accessed by the children.
How have your storage needs changed as your child(ren) have got older?
As my own children have got older they have started to accumulate a lot of toys. One major one is lego. My boys are obsessed! It also means that we have a lot of lego!! An ideal storage solution I have discovered is purchasing large square trays which I found in a garden centre. The lego is then spread out on these trays which is hugely accessible and doesn’t end up all over the floor. They can then be slid easily under the bed when not in use.
In addition to this I have also been quite ruthless as to what toys we keep as they start to out grow them. I only tend to keep toys that I believe have more than one use.
What one tip would you give to new parents who are just starting out and want to provide a range of engaging activities for their children at home, but have limited storage space?
Try and buy open-ended toys and resources. This means that the resource has more than one use and can essentially be used for all sorts of play. By doing this you will not only save space as you will need less toys, but also you are developing creativity and imagination. A classic example of an open-ended resource would be wooden blocks. These can be used to build towers, used in small world play, e.g. create farm fields, practice colour recognition and mathematical concepts to name just a few.
Thank you for joining in this mini-series, where can we find you online?
Thank you for having me. You can currently find me on Instagram @hummingbirdsatplay and Facebook @hummingbirdschildcare
Thank you, Jo!