Thursday, July 23, 2009

Picnic Table Talk: Organization

picnic button

I try to provide my children with as many opportunities to explore their world and express themselves as possible, while maintaining a reasonably clean house. Organization is something I think about frequently, and a topic I have blogged about before.

I haven’t done much to organize learning in our house; I think very young children learn a lot by exploring their world, particularly if parents pay attention to and discuss their children’s interests. I am considering a loose adaptation of Sue Patrick's Workbox System to provide Emma and Johnny with things to do at their play table with minimal supervision when I am busy with the baby. If anyone has used workboxes in this way with young children, I would love to hear about it! Some things I would put in the workboxes:

  • Play dough, sometimes on it’s own, sometimes with one of our homemade play mats.
  • Pattern blocks, sometimes with templates like the ones I referred to in this post.
  • File folder games like this one.
  • Their travel felt boards with the activities mentioned in this post.
  • Their crayon rolls and paper/coloring pages
  • These paint brushes and paper

Have any other suggestions as to what I should put in these bins? I’d love any other ideas!

Here are a few things that work well for us in terms of physical organization:

  • Divide craft materials into categories. I have some supplies (colored paper, fabric scraps, and pipe cleaners) that I let the kids use with minimal supervision. The next category is supplies that both kids can use with light supervision (crayons, markers, glue), followed by materials that require close supervision (small beads, scissors).
  • Categorize toys. We keep our building toys in a different part of the house from stuffed animals and dolls, which are also separate from books. Puzzles are kept separately from other toys also.
  • Make clean-up fun and easy. Each toy has a place where it always goes, and I use containers that are easy for my kids to put toys into. Sometimes they will clean up a toy on their own, but more often I clean up alongside them. If they’re reluctant to help pick up, we’ll sing a song and/or turn clean-up into a game (who can find the most red duplos, who can pick their toy up the most quickly, etc)
  • Catch destructive mode before it’s full-blown. Emma and Johnny both occasionally go into destructive mode. For Johnny, this typically means he needs a nap; for Emma it’s a signal that she needs to do a structured activity.

What organizing tricks simplify your life?

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