Kids love colour. When kids are surrounded by colour, they are opened up to a brilliant, vibrant world. But so many of us are afraid of colour, and fearful of making the wrong choices. {This was me, only five years ago!} Keep reading to learn 10 easy and stylish ways to bring colour into your kid’s space.

Via Lonny

While monochrome is definitely a big trend right now, I have a hard time believing that any child would want to play + live in a black and white world, don’t you? In fact, recent research cautions against an underuse of colour, explaining that colourless interior spaces can be stressful and nonproductive. In other words, an environment with a lack of colour may be as harmful as one that is over-stimulating (Gaines and Curry, 2011). Some studies have shown that active children prefer cool colours and passive children are more comfortable surrounded by warm colours (Torrice and Logrippo, 1989). Further studies (Morton, 1995) argue that the purity and contrast with other colours is more important than colour temperature. In other words, how we use those colours in relation to one another is a very important consideration in predicting its psychological and physiological effect on kids.

Via Project Nursery

 So how much is too much, and how do we weave colour into the environment without overwhelming our kids’ senses?

playroom brillante

I didn’t always embrace colour (remember my a colour-phobia story?), but I now consider myself to be fearless in the face of colour. When chosen thoughtfully, and in balance, colour has the potential to brighten + transform any space. My signature style is a neutral white wall, and pops of colour (that term is so overused) woven throughout the space {in moderation}, and in various forms. The one rule when bringing colour to kids’ spaces: balance. Painting an accent wall or adding wallcovering can be fun, but it is not the only way.  In fact, bringing colour into your kids’ space without permanence is easier than you think.

Here are some manageable ideas to integrate colour stylishly into your child’s space:

1. Art

A wonderful + authentic way to weave colour in to your child’s space is with her ARTWORK! If she has created something really special – at school, home or art class, frame it in a simple white frame, and let the colours in the composition do the talking! Here are some wonderful examples of art bringing in colour on a neutral wall:

Via The Imagination Tree

Look at how beautifully Anna from The Imagination Tree does this in her kids’ studio! Isn’t it brilliant? Just simple white frames, with lots of colour, letting the art tell the children’s story.

These colourful masks are a permanent fixture in our playroom, and are such a vibrant representation of the creativity and fun that goes on in this space

I love how cleverly Jennifer Jones of iHeartOrganizing.com transformed some old kitchen cupboards into the perfect white backdrop for her children’s colourful compositions?

Via iHeartOrganizing

I love how Joy from Mondocherry created a sense of peace and serenity by grouping monochromatic paintings in her child’s playroom. So lovely and calming.

Via Mondocherry

2. Seating

Play tables have never been so stylish + functional, and now many come in various hues + finishes. Here are a few of my favourites:

Via AllModern

Via: AllModern

Via Sprout

3. Rugs

Rugs are a great way to bring in colour AND texture, and help to soften up the space {AND dampen the play noise}. If you child loves to spend time on the floor, a rug makes the space much more inviting. However, if your space is a haven for wet art – a rug may not be the best option.  I love FLOR because of the modular floor tiles that can be switched out and washed if they get dirty. Their colour and pattern options are endless, they have a no-skid back, and their pile is low enough that children can build block towers that won’t tip over because of a wiggly base (like with some higher-pile rugs).

IKEA also has great ever-changing options, and if you’re working within a more modest budget, this is definitely the way to go!

Source: IKEAHalved $149

Boucherouite rugs (traditionally woven with leftover bits of colourful textiles) are having a big moment right now, and I love how they add a delicious pop of colour into your child’s space.

boucherouite rug

Via Baba Souk

Via Project Nursery Source: Land of Nod, from $347.13

4. Toys 

Children’s toys are full of colour. Why not display some of the more beautiful wooden kind {I especially love the vintage variety!} Display some of your nicer colourful toys on open shelves – just a selection, not a whole mish-mosh!

I just love how Lucy Interior Design used the built-in millwork to show off some fun toys!

Via Decorpad

Another example of a thoughtful selection of toys on display on this Oeuf Mini Library shelf, via Pinterest. While I definitely believe that “Less is More,” I also recognize that kids have A LOT of toys. Instead of having them all out on shelves, try putting the more open-ended kinds out {these also happen to often be the most pretty}. Throw the Barbies, superheroes and action figures into baskets.

Via Pinterest

5. Baskets

Woven baskets in all the colours of the rainbow? Yes please! While I love a neutral woven basket in jute, sisal or seagrass, colourful baskets can be so much fun!

I simply love the creative use of these totes to hang sheet music & other piano paraphernalia.

Via Architectural Digest

And look at these gorgeous woven baskets to store toys in this learning space? The texture and colour are so inviting, and make me want to linger and explore!

Via Pinterest

How fun are these multi-coloured sisal containers? Perfect for throwing kids’ stuffies or Lego into!

Via Pinterest

6. Art media

In Reggio-inspired environments, art media are stored in glass jars. The reason for this is two-fold: first, glass lets the light and colour shine through {light is a very important design consideration in Reggio}. Second, kids can “read” the media that are housed within, and are therefore capable of making independent choices about which materials to select. Colourful art supplies are so enticing when children can actually see them! Here are a few examples of how I like to display art materials that are within reach for kids:

7. Pendant Lights / Floor Lamps

Lighting has come a LONG way, and options are virtually endless when it comes to pendant shades and cord colours. Target, Homesense, Homegoods and even Walmart now carry a wide variety of colourful lamps. While wiring a pendant light requires the expertise of an electrician, table lamps and floor lamps provide warm ambience to kids’ spaces and an additional pop of colour.

I just love the play on shape and colour with these fun pendants!

Via Hem

And how about these beautiful woven pendants styled by Live Loud Girl?

Via Live Loud Girl

Or these two-toned drum pendants with colour-infused cords?

Via Quirk

Here is a concept board I created for a client with colourful pops of orange, repeated with the floor lamp.

8. Poufs, pillows, floor cushions, bean bag chairs

I am a big fan of flexible seating in play spaces and classrooms. Think of a space you enjoy hanging out. It’s probably inviting and comfortable. Poufs, pillows and floor cushions offer versatility and choice, and in my opinion, can provide the BEST source for colour and texture. I love these colourful  cushions from IKEA’s new JASSA collection, and Etsy offers a plethora of patterns and sizes to choose from {you do the stuffing at home!}

Via IKEA

Fatboy has become my all-time favourite beanbag chair because of the selection of colour, as well as the durability and washability factor.

Or how about these vibrant knitted poufs from Surya? So fun, right?

Via Surya

And this multicoloured, multitextured pouf from Plumo?

colourful pouf

Via Handmade Charlotte

9. Books

Children’s books are a GREAT way to bring in colour and interest into a space. There are SO many beautiful books out there that also happen to be great stories {sure, there are some that look great on the shelf, but the story is nothing of substance}. Choosing good kid lit is a bit of an art in itself, but there are plenty of great resources out there to help you {like here, and here, and here}. I love to display children’s books on picture ledges or  acrylic bookshelves. When books are forward-facing, children are naturally more drawn in to choose a book to read.

acrylic book shelf

Via Sissy + Marley

10. Collections

Collections are a great way to bring souvenirs and mementos to life, and to bring colour in. When grouped together, they look so interesting and always tell a story. In design, this is the principle of repetition, and repetition always adds visual interest to a space.

Locally made handmade dolls showcase colourful patterns and textures that are irresistible to little ones. Display them in baskets or on  shelves.

Here is our collection of handmade Mexican felt giraffes: a wonderful memento of family vacations past.

There are so many inexpensive and non-permanent ways to bring colour into our environment. Colour has enormous impact in the space that surrounds us, and has the power to alter our mood from dull to dramatic, from boring to cheerful.  The one rule? In balance. All colours are beautiful: in moderation. I can guarantee your kids love colour. But tell me, do YOU? And are you ready to start embracing colour in your child’s space?  Tell me: Are you a colour-fiend or colour-phoebe?

References

Gaines, K. and Curry, Z. (2011). The Inclusive Classroom: The Effects of Color on Learning and Behavior. Journal of Family & Consumer Sciences Education, 29(1).

Morton, J. (1995). Color Matters. Retrieved from http://www.colormatters.com.

Torrice, A F., Logrippo, R. (1989). In my Room: Designing for and with Children. New York: Ballantine Books.

father’s day art {he’ll want to show off!}

10 Jun 2017, Posted by alanacherneck_0 in Uncategorized

Father’s Day is just over a week away, but I’ve got you covered with a unique process-based Father’s Day art activity that Dad will actually WANT to hang on his office wall.

It will take a bit of time, but trust me, it will be a Father’s Day keepsake he {and you!} will treasure forever. Here’s the process.

Pick up these 3D letters (made with primed canvas, available for $7.99 at Michael’s) to create the word “DAD.” {In our family, things worked out pretty well because we have THREE girls – each one gets to paint and hold a letter.} If you don’t have three kids, you can be creative – have one child hold two letters, and the other one; or place the letters on the ground and have the kids pose behind…lots of possibilities!}

father's day art picture

What you will need:

  • Primed Canvas Letters to spell “DAD” or “PAPA” or “Daddy”…
  • Acrylic paint (if older), or Liquid Tempera
  • Paint brushes
  • Water for rinsing
  • Embellishments (glitter, sequins, buttons…)
  • Picture frame

father's day neon colour palette .    father's day D

Decide on a colour story {we really love neon!} and paint each letter. Have kids choose EITHER warm (reds, oranges, yellows) OR cool colours (blues, purples, greens), as mixing them up will turn a muddy, mucky and fairly unattractive greyish-brown.

Once they’ve covered the letter with paint, let it dry overnight. You are now ready to add embellishments.  Choose embellishments like glitter, sequins or buttons. The only rule is that kids get full-reign over their letter. This way, it will be a true representation of them!

 

father's day art DAD

father's day art DAD

Once the letters have been completed, experiment with different poses and photograph your child(ren) holding the letters to spell “Dad” / “Daddy” / “Papa” … whatever the case may be in your family!

father's day art

Frame the photos, and present the finished framed piece to Dad on Father’s Day. I guarantee he will love and cherish it.

father's day frame 2

father's day frame

If glitter just isn’t your thing, here is a simple and fun questionnaire you can do with your kiddos! These are so fun to look back to over the years. Just click here to download as a pdf.

 Father's Day all about dad pdf

This year has us pulled in many different directions for Father’s Day, including a marathon {not me!}, and a ballet recital. How will you be celebrating Father’s Day?

the fairy project

18 May 2017, Posted by alanacherneck_0 in Uncategorized

Our girls have long had a fascination with fairies. So after reading Home, by Carson Ellis, a charming book that explores the idea of non-traditional dwellings, and the inhabitants that live within them; we decided to investigate homes for fairies, and explore ways to attract them.

The girls built an open-style teepee, wrapped with colourful fabric scraps. I had purchased bamboo garden poles from the Dollar Store for $1.25 each, and the girls carefully covered the poles to make them attractive to the fairies.

Next, I bound the poles together at the top to secure it.  The girls decided we needed “Fairy Traps” and “Fairy Bait” to attract the fairies to their new home.

We used wooden beads and wire to create inviting sculptures, and hung them all over the Fairy House.


Next, we brainstormed a list, and Emily used her “invented spelling” to generate a list of items that needed to be offered to the fairies. The list was very simple:

  • Food (carrots)
  • Bucket (for water)

Here is a printable writing prompt to use with your kids.  {Kids LOVE writing lists, and it’s a great way to promote writing}. I don’t force conventional spelling; instead I have them draw pictures {which I label}, or we use the beginning and ending sounds for emergent writers.

Emily also wrote a letter to the fairies, welcoming them to their new home.

That night, I sprinkled glitter all around the fairy house. Their reaction the next morning, when they confirmed that the fairies had indeed come, was PRICELESS.

The Fairy Project is an example of a mini-inquiry where Language Arts (reading and writing) and Science (structures) were woven into a magical exploration. When the girls are naturally intrigued and curious about something, I try to weave in learning concepts in an meaningful, connected and authentic way. In this way, learning is natural,  fun and exciting.  After all, don’t we ALL want to learn more about what we’re naturally curious about?

I invite you to share your thoughts on this mini-inquiry, and how you build writing into your child’s day. What are YOUR kids interested in that could lead to fun multi-dimensional projects?

the hair chair: girls’ hair done easy!

30 Mar 2017, Posted by alanacherneck_0 in Uncategorized

Moms of girls! Do you struggle with doing your girl’s hair every day? Do you have to chase your toddler/preschooler/school-age daughter around the house so that you can simply tie her hair in a presentable fashion before she leaves the house? This was a daily episode over here, x3. My middle child explains she has “golden locks” and that is why she is so sensitive to the brush (loathes having her hair done.) My oldest “just likes it this way” (aka in her eyes); and my youngest is like a whirling dervish, never to sit still for anything. Enter: THE HAIR CHAIR. For those of you lucky enough to have a home built in the 80’s with a built-in telephone desk (you know, the kind with room for a chair under it, and drawers for phone books?) I have the BEST solution.

I bought a rolling height-adjustable stool (moves up and down like in a salon).  This allows even my youngest to sit high enough so I don’t have to crouch down.

Next, you will need a laptop, iPad or other entertainment device. This is critical. If you want 5 minutes of uninterrupted, non-complaining hair-do time, you must give your child permission to PLUG IN. We love the odd video, PBS Kids video game, or YouTube blind-bag unveiling (the commercialism honestly make me sick to my stomach, but I allow it for the really rough knot-combing sessions).

Finally, desk-organizer storage. Available at the Dollar Store or Walmart, buy an organizer or some baskets that are slim enough to be placed in the drawers.

I have three baskets in my drawer.  1. BOWS, BARETTES, and BOBBY PINS. 2. BRUSHES + COMBS. 3. ELASTICS.

Stock + label these. I go to Dollarama every couple of months to restock these. The key is having a large supply.

You’re all set! Do you struggle with doing your kids’ hair? What are some of your tried + true strategies? I’d love to hear!

Art cards

In this post, I will share how our girls mass-produce these beautiful “Art Cards” which I keep handy for all the parties.

Every birthday party that rolls around, I feel like I’m scrambling. The gifts. The wrapping. The taxi-ing around to all the party locations. With three kids, we get invited to MANY parties.  I am trying to build my birthday “stock” (a dedicated shelf in our basement where I store all the great finds I got on sale… but the struggle to stay on top of it is real!) Usually, last minute, the girls are ALSO scrambling to make a card for their friend. And usually, this involves a sheet of construction paper (if we’re lucky), and a simple message and picture (if we have time!) in marker or crayon.  I absolutely HATE spending money on commercial cards. Not only are they incredibly expensive; they are so un-environmental and impersonal. I cannot justify paying $7.95 for a card with a message written by a STRANGER, that the recipient will probably just TOSS or RECYCLE the next week!

I started making handmade cards with the girls when they were very young (1.5 years old). While it was very much about “process,” I would take their work and cut+ arrange it charmingly on cardstock, including their name + date. Recipients were always so appreciative of the time + thought that went into these handmade cards, and would often keep them as mini art pieces. (My mom still has hers displayed on the fridge!)

art cards

We’ve gotten a bit more creative with our art cards, but the process is basically the same. We mass-produce dozens at a time (in stages), and then we have a stock to choose from when birthday parties roll around.  I store them in the cupboard with my party-supplies (gift wrap, bows, etc.) so they’re ready to go when we are.

art cards

Watch the video to see what our process looks like. {this is my FIRST video tutorial…bare with me! they can only get better, right?}

You will need:

  • watercolour paper
  • liquid watercolour
  • salt
  • paint brushes
  • water (to wet watercolour paper, and for rinsing brushes)
  • glue gun
  • colourful cardstock
  • embellishments (beads, buttons, sequins, gems…)

art cards

  1. Tape your watercolour paper to workspace (frame around the outside, and then tape 6-8 “compartments.”
  2. Wet the paper (either a spray bottle, or a big brush).
  3. Add your watercolour and watch the colours dance!
  4. Sprinkle with a bit of salt (this is optional, but creates a really cool effect kids love)
  5. Allow to dry.
  6. Remove tape. This will give you a beautiful, crisp edge to your mini art cards.
  7. Add embellishments: buttons, sequins, gems…anything that sparkles or shines or adds interest. I allow the girls to use a low-temp hot glue gun, because I believe them to be strong, able and full of potential, and with proper instruction, capable of using a variety of “adult” tools.
  8. Cut your cards to size, and layer them over colourful cardstock. This adds another layer, and is your border. Mount the art pieces to a pre-folded white card (white cardstock works well).
  9. Have your child sign their creation.

art cards

Watch the Video Tutorial:

 

 

dollhouse round-up

20 Feb 2017, Posted by alanacherneck_0 in Uncategorized

Dollhouses are a bit of an obsession around here. With three girls, we’ve had the opportunity to test-drive many different kinds. I’ve also worked with childcare organizations and teachers who have used these dollhouses in their practice.  The consensus: WOOD is GOOD!  The more open-ended the dollhouse, the better for the imagination.  Look for dollhouses that are “open-concept” and can be played with from a variety of sides (this encourages cooperative play).  Here are some of my favourites (and fall within a variety of budgets):

 

OB-dollhouse

1. Plan Toys Chalet Dollhouse, $179.95   /  2. House Shadow Boxes, $12.99 – $29.99  /

3. Plan Toys Creative Play House, $169.99  /  4. Melissa and Doug Hi-Rise Dollhouse, $199.99  /

5. IKEA FLISAT Doll House, $29.99  /  6. Hape All Season Dollhouse, $199.95

 

Alana_008 copy

Kids love to play with dollhouses that are at their level, so try setting it up on a shelf (20″ high or so).

 

Brillante_220 copy (1)

I like to place a basket underneath to store wooden dolls, furniture and accessories.  This keeps things organized and inviting for children.

 

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The great news is that you don’t need to spend a ton of money on dollhouses (although, I believe if you are going to invest in quality wooden pieces for your playroom, a dollhouse is at the top of the list!)  Shadowboxes make great open-ended “houses” for wooden dolls. These were purchased at Michael’s for under $20.00.

I’ve seen many creative hacks for dollhouses, but these IKEA KALLAX hacks have got to be my favourite:

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Via Mommodesign

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Via Zowieso

Whatever your budget, whatever your child’s interests (boy or girl), a dollhouse is a MUST for any playroom. Dollhouses encourage dramatic play, where children mimic all the activities that go on inside a home. From cooking, to cleaning, to caring for loved ones, to solving problems; children who pretend and engage in dramatic play actively experiment with the social roles in life.  Through dramatic play, children explore their own thoughts and feelings, and practice conflict resolution.  All children benefit from pretend play!

tools for creative kids

07 Feb 2017, Posted by alanacherneck_0 in Uncategorized

Staying organized in today’s busy world is getting harder and harder to do. Especially with kids. Staying organized with ART SUPPLIES is a whole different ballgame, and because of its inherently “messy” nature, many families shy away from art with their kids. In the Reggio-inspired world, art is a language with which kids first learn to communicate.

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Art holds tremendous power for kids – to express feelings, fears, dreams and ideas. Giving children tools, and presenting them in a thoughtful, organized and beautiful way, invites kids in to explore, and use this language in creative ways.

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I believe that art supplies (and other toys/materials) should be VISIBLE, and within kids’ reach. This way, they can make independent choices and not feel thwarted by always having to ask permission. (always asking for help and permission can DEFINITELY hamper the creative process!) In a Reggio-Inspired vein, art supplies should be housed in transparent jars, so that children can “read” the media. They also provide wonderful punches of colour in a space.  Glass also has beautiful reflective qualities, so important in any Reggio environment.

 

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IKEA EKBY OSTEN shelf with Dollar Store glass jars, and baskets from Bed Bath & Beyond

 

Everyone has a different comfort level when it comes to art with kids. Where are YOU on the “art comfort continuum?”

art comfort continuum

I’ve rounded up some ideas for art storage for those faint-of-heart, as well as for those of you ready to take it to a new level.  I’ve also shared a go-to list for items to include in your inventory. Some of these ideas come from my very favourite bloggers in the Reggio-inspired world, and I hope you’ll find them useful!

 

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Boon Stash Art Caddy

I love this caddy because it is simple and keeps everything organized and neat, and looks uber-modern. It is also dishwasher-friendly. Once it gets a little dingy-looking, just throw it in the dishwasher and it will come out looking brand new!

 

Alana_120 copy

Alana_122 copy

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IKEA GRUNDTAL series

I like to use this set in designs, because it is an option for those with limited shelf space.  The canisters are removable, and you can customize it for the number of materials you have.

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Land of Nod Budding Artist Caddy

These are great because kids can independently carry the entire caddy to a nearby table.  The fun colours and design make it a sure-fire hit.

 

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Chalk Wall with integrated art storage

Image Source:  BuzzFeed

I love this design (not my own!) but I have used variations of it. It is a one-stop-shop on a wall-surface, minimizing the need for added shelving.  I love chalk walls, and this is the perfect integration of both chalk-wall and art storage.

 

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IKEA RASKOG Art Cart

Image Source: Tinkerlab  Check out Rachelle’s process for setting up an Art Cart! These are amazingly convenient for smaller spaces, and can house a good number of art goodies. The casters make moving it a breeze.  I’ve used these in child care settings, and they are always very popular.

 

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Urbio Magnetic Modular System

Image Source: The Art Pantry.  Check out how Megan uses this system so cleverly in her art studio!

I ADORE Megan’s use of the Urbio Modular system. It is so clean, simple and modern, and I love that you can change up the scheme depending on your kids’ needs, heights, and interests.  It’s so visually appealing (probably because of the white with pops of art-media colour!), and the options are truly endless.

 

Your collection of art media will range depending on your comfort level. Below is a list of some items to get you started. {You can pick + choose!}

Art Centre

IKEA KALLAX unit, with Dollar Store glass jars {my favourite!}

Do your kids have an Art Centre? What are YOUR strategies for keeping sane when messy art supplies are around? I would love to hear your ideas!

wall decor

06 Dec 2016, Posted by alanacherneck_0 in Uncategorized

Animal Heads by Fiona Walker

A nursery or bedroom can be so much fun to design + style.  Elements of whimsy + unexpected surprises can be integrated in ways not always possible in other rooms of the home. Etsy is an amazing source for wall decor, and has become my go-to resource for all things decor. A recent trend hitting nurseries and bedrooms are adorable wall busts: “faux taxidermy.”  And decor-enthusiasts have a love/hate relationship with the latest phenomenon:  we either LOVE it, or it just creeps us out. When done right, faux taxidermy can bring a fun and whimsical sensibility to your little one’s space. Mounted individually as a focal point, or within a gallery wall, there are so many options (and price points) to choose from.

Below, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite “friendlier” versions that won’t scare you (or your little one) out of the bedroom.

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1. Princess Swan. Happy Head Toys. Etsy $80.48 2. Rhino Trophy. Woodland ImportsWayfair. $98.99.  3. White Rabbit Felt Animal Head. Fiona Walker England. West Coast Kids. $139.99.  4.  Ram Felt Head. Fiona Walker England. Rosenberry Rooms$165 USD.  5. Unicorn Head Wall Decor. Pillowfort for Target. Target$19.44.  6. Unicorn Head. White Faux Taxidermy. Etsy$128.22.  7. Wicker Look White Elephant. Zeckos. Houzz. $79.99.  8. Deer Head Wall Decor. Near and Deer. Wayfair$158.99.

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And let us not forget the sultry + sweet deer head from the talented Tamar Mogendorff (a little out of my budget, but really and truly a work of art).

Where do you sit on the faux taxidermy continuum?  Do you love them or do they frighten you?  I’d love to hear!

 

are you swimming in stuffies?

20 Nov 2016, Posted by alanacherneck_0 in Uncategorized

Photo Credit: B2 Photography

Stuffies seem to be taking over a good portion of playroom real estate these days. From Beanie-babies (large + small) to teddy bears to plush snakes + tigers, we have the whole animal kingdom covered. But how many is TOO many, and how can you possibly organize them so they each get their share of cuddle time?

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Our girls PLAY with their stuffies. They take them for walks in the stroller, they tag along on car rides, or accompany reluctant passengers on ever-lasting school bus rides.  As a child, I don’t remember having many (are they a recent phenomenon perhaps?), perhaps a few favourites, but they really weren’t my thing. Our girls are especially drawn to the wide-eyed TY Beanies, and have acquired quite a collection.  I have to admit, some of them are pretty cute {did you know they even have names?}.

We have a bit of a system in our house. We bring about 10-12 small to medium sized stuffies out at a time, and store them in our red canvas baskets (labelled: “stuffies”). These get rotated every two weeks:  at the end of their playroom stay, they go back down to the play trunk (that is, a giant resin Costco deck box) in our basement that requires a serious high-powered flashlight to forage through.

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I’ve rounded up some possibilities for storage that are both practical AND stylish – from storage ottomans, to crates, to belly baskets + canvas cubes.  I hope you like them.  If you’re wondering a source, please ask in the comments below, and I will let you know.

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What about YOU? Are you bursting at the seams with plush paraphernalia? What are YOUR stuffy storage solutions?

 

wooden vs. plastic: the great toy debate

27 Oct 2016, Posted by alanacherneck_0 in Uncategorized

Wooden or plastic, that is the question.

I am a big fan of wooden toys for children. Does it mean I don’t own plastic toys for our girls? pfft! Heck no. We own more Babies + Barbie transport modes than Ken has hair styling products.

But I value wooden toys, and would spend double the amount (or more) on a quality wooden toy than plastic ANY day. There are so many reasons to invest in a set of quality wooden toys for your children.

  1.  They are open-ended:  wooden toys are typically more open ended than tradition plastic variety. Often plastic toys are accompanied by a disclaimer on the package:  “batteries not included.” look, mamas: if your toy needs batteries, who is doing all the work? Certainly not your child’s brain! Wooden toys invite open-ended play with limitless possibilities.  Wooden toys are often less “descript” and more open-ended, leaving so much for the child to imagine + create.  Imagination, critical thinking, creativity, problem solving: these are high level thinking skills we want to foster and develop for our 21st century learners.  Wooden toys were created because they were made from readily available material, using very simple tools. There is something so romantic and beautiful about that simplicity.  Children are naturally drawn to wooden toys, and tend to care for and respect wooden toys differently. What a wonderful thing, to learn responsibility + care for our materials.

 

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Melissa and Doug Dolls with Plan Toys Dollhouse Furniture

 

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Wooden Beads with Wire

 

  1. They are better for the environment:  wooden toys are more durable and last longer than their plastic counterparts. This equals less waste. Think about all of the drive-through toys you’ve accumulated? Where do they end up? Wood is a recyclable, replenishable resource, much gentler on the earth.

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Grimm’s Wooden Cave Arch

 

  1. They embrace the sensory components of play: play is a full-body experience. Play involves all senses – sight, sound, touch, smell, and even taste (think about how your youngest would mouth things – this is a form of making meaning of her world!) wooden toys fire up all the senses. Think about the smell of a fresh wooden toy. The feel of it. I love how nostalgic I feel when I hold these toys in my hands. Wood BEGS to be touched. Smelled. Explored. When children engage more than one sense, they are creating MANY connections in the brain. When a child uses an iPad or Tablet – they are using at most, two senses. On the contrary, plastic electronic toys can OVER-stimulate the brain, providing too much feedback. Children construct understanding of their world through concrete experiences that involve all of our senses. It’s how we were wired. One Instagram follower of mine posted about the “visual noise” factor.  It’s so true. Visual noise produces visual clutter. There is so much research on clutter and it’s adverse effect on thinking and learning. Why bring more visual noise in to a space where you want your child to play, grow AND learn?

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PlanToys Water Blocks (Photo credit: B2 Photography)

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Melissa and Doug Natural Wooden Blocks 

{for fun: try mixing in scraps of material or fabric with your blocks and watch the possibilities unfold! Pat Furman of SSCY’s Robertson Early Enrichment Program shared this one with me!}

 

  1. Durability:  to quote Roland Barthes, philosopher + French literary theorist:  wood “is a familiar and poetic substance, which does not sever the child from close contact with the tree, the table, the floor. Wood does not wound or break down; it does not shatter, it wears out, it can last a long time.” wow. Yes.

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PlanToys Creative Dollhouse (Photo Credit: B2 Photography)

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Manny and Simon Wooden Stroller Push Cart (Photo Credit: B2 Photography)

 

  1. Nostalgia factor: think about the most classic toy that ever was. Wooden alphabet blocks. We all owned them. There was a simplicity + timelessness to them that was incomparable to any other toy. What kinds of toys will YOU hand down to grandchildren? Our wooden toys will definitely top my list. I am a minimalist, but one thing I will hold onto for sure is our Grimm’s wooden stacking toys. And our wooden blocks. And our wooden dollhouses. For the number of hours our girls have played with and engaged with these toys – it is amazing how new they still look. they are truly gems in our toy collection.

 

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Plan Toys Chalet Dollhouse

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Grimm’s Rainbow Stacker (Photo Credit: B2 Photography)

 

My top five reasons for embracing wooden toys in the playroom come with some drawbacks, and the cost factor would be at the top of the list. Wooden toys (especially the hand-crafted variety) are more expensive than plastic. It’s true. But when you weigh the pros + cons, and adopt a “less is more” attitude, you can get more mileage out of the fewer wooden toys than all the plastic at a Toy’s R Us. Think about it.

What about you? Where do you sit on the wooden ………….. > plastic spectrum? I would love to hear your thoughts!