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!}


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?


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.

Creative Ideas for Learning with Holiday Photo Cards

04 Jan 2018, Posted by alanacherneck_0 in Uncategorized

If you’re like me, and you’re starting to climb out of the “Holiday Aftermath” of stuff… you probably have a collection of holiday photo cards from family and friends.

holiday photo cards


And if you’re also like me, it sort of breaks your heart to throw these away {or recycle them!}

Today, I’m sharing the create way we up-cycle these holiday photo cards into fun learning experiences for the girls.


holiday cards

Step 1

Have your child cut out the pictures of familiar friends and family. Talk about who is in the pictures, and share special memories you may have about them.


holiday photo cards

Step 2

Attach the photos to wooden popsicle sticks.

holiday art

Step 3

Make a puppet show.  Outline your story with a beginning, middle and end. Simple is good!



Here’s one of ours: 

“Daniel was sad. He had no one to play with.”

“Sam noticed that Daniel was sad. He said: “Daniel, do you want to play with me?”

“Daniel said ‘sure!’ And the two of them ran off to play with their light sabres.

You can also use the puppets to share ideas for conflict resolution.  Simply make up a scenario that has occurred in your home, and have your kids think of possible solutions to the problem.


creative ideas for holiday photo cards


A story about sharing:

Jennifer was so excited! She got a new toy for her birthday.

“Look, I got a new toy today! I’m so excited to play with it!”

Andy was jealous. He wanted a new toy. He grabbed her toy. 

Jennifer got VERY mad. She started to cry.

What can Jennifer do to solve her problem?


You don’t have to look very far to get good material for simple stories! Just think about the last problem your children had a hard time working through. Dramatizing the story makes it fun and meaningful for the kids, and gives them strategies for how to work through issues going forward.

You can also attach the pictures to magnetic stickers (Dollar store). We use these “magnets” for math story problems, using tiny objects as concrete manipulatives.


holiday card magnets


Olivia had six presents. She gave three to Baxter. How many does Olivia have now?

I hope you enjoy these ideas on ways to up-cycle those holiday cards! Your kids will love to see familiar faces as they explore math and language in meaningful, fun ways!


*P.S. If you’re in PURGE mode, like me, I will be running a FREE 5-Day Playroom Purge Challenge. Are you on board? Sign up below!

Playroom Purge

playroom purge


All. The. Toys.

Lately, I’ve been paying close attention to Moms on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and the struggle is real.

Moms are frustrated by the insurmountable toys, books and gadgets; overwhelmed with clutter and the constant mess, and exasperated by their kids’ lack of ownership and responsibility for their things. 

Are YOU swimming in a sea of TOY OVERWHELM?


Back to School: Tips + Tricks for a Smooth Transition

27 Nov 2017, Posted by alanacherneck_0 in Uncategorized

When I was a teacher, mid-August marked a BIG internal shift from summer relaxation to back-to-school mode: when I started feeling equally anxious and excited about getting my classroom in order for my new group of students.

As a mother, mid-August comes with a bit of a different vibe. It’s a time to start winding down fun summer adventures and begin mapping out new schedules, new routines and a new academic year ahead.

With two of our girls in school full-time this year, I knew it would be important to tackle the tasks that we go through each day, and create a system to help the back to school transition go smoothly. 


Restorative Practices for Families

25 Oct 2017, Posted by alanacherneck_0 in Uncategorized

Last week, I shared how our family uses a Talking Stick as a communication tool within our family’s sharing circle. I am so excited to share with you, guest blogger Courtney Harris, who walks us through the importance of this restorative practice. In this post, Courtney shares a bit about the benefits of using a sharing circle within the family, and a practical “how-to” approach for families wanting to implement the idea, in order to deepen communication and trust with one another. Courtney is a WEALTH of knowledge, and I encourage you to join her private Facebook Group for insights and advice on deepening connections with your kids. Welcome Courtney! (more…)

Talking Sticks + Sharing Circles

11 Oct 2017, Posted by alanacherneck_0 in Uncategorized

Does your family have meetings

When I was a teacher, we began every Monday morning with a class meeting.

The format was a Sharing Circle. 

Each child had the opportunity to share their voice in the circle, without interruption, anything that was on their mind.


Muffin Tin Mandalas

03 Oct 2017, Posted by alanacherneck_0 in Uncategorized

Fall is here! We love it!

Yesterday, I took the girls for a Fall Walk.

We carried a muffin tin, in order to collect {and sort} our fall treasures.  {I set this up as one of our #afterschoolinvitations – more on this idea in another post!}


3 secrets for getting your kids to play longer

16 Jul 2017, Posted by alanacherneck_0 in Uncategorized

Do you struggle with getting your kids to play? Particularly, staying interested and engaged in play?

A study published in The American Journal of Play, noted that last 50 years has seen a sharp decline in children’s play. (Gray, 2011) Today’s kids have the largest toy collections in history, so why is it that our kids are playing less?

Parents are becoming increasingly challenged with supporting their children’s sustained play. Busy activity schedules, increasing demands of homework, and struggles of work-life balance make it difficult for families to carve out time for sustained, unstructured play at home. The decrease in free play can also be directly related to the increase of screen time: television, video games, “educational apps” and YouTube channels lure children in with their flashy, fast-paced, instantly gratifying platforms.

While most parents understand the benefits of play, and the importance of limited screen time, they are competing against some very strong forces indeed. {Can you relate? Do your children become transfixed while watching YouTube episodes of random children opening “blind bags” filled with ridiculously overpriced tiny toys?}

It is a powerful marketing force at play here, and parents’ best intentions are often overthrown by the hefty efforts of toy manufacturers. According to a report of the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Advertising and Children, “it is estimated that advertisers spend more than $12 billion per year to reach the youth market and that children view more than 40,000 commercials each year.”

Keeping kids engaged in play for extended periods of time is not an easy feat in today’s technology-driven, commercialized world. Kids inevitably “check out,” get bored, start to squabble or simply become distracted.

But children need to play. Our brains are wired for play.

importance of play

Play is good for the brain. In fact, play is so important for optimal child development that it has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child.  Play allows children to exercise their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional growth. (Ginsburg, 2007) Play is the primary mode for which children come to form theories about their world. As they master their world, play “helps children develop new competencies that lead to enhanced confidence and the resiliency they will need to face future challenges.” 

A hands-on, real-life, experiential encounter with the world one that engages all the senses – is the most important way for a young child to make meaning. Children do not learn to walk by watching a programme about walking. They learn to walk by walking. By falling down. And then getting back up. Over and over again.  {This is a well-known theory called Constructivism – that we learn through our experiences – not through the passive transmission of information on a screen}.

We know the importance of play for children’s developing brains, so how can parents incorporate authentic play into their child’s day, to keep kids engaged and unplugged, so that they “go deep” into sustained play, using important facets like creativity and imagination?

In this post, I share a 3 step secret formula for setting kids up to play for prolonged periods. I have used the process both in the classroom, and with my own children at home, and I get good results.  Like anything, sustained play takes practice. And the more we insist on play (vs. screentime) at home, the more children will come to accept it.


Step 1:  Set it up

Kids sometimes need a bit of motivation to play. I like to set up a “play prompt” – an invitation to play, if you will. Sometimes, this involves setting things up in a new way {placing dollhouse elements in a tray of rice or sand, moving the trains to the floor with Washi tape, taking play outdoors}… or setting toys up as though they invite a story to be told or re-told {placing three bears, each with a bowl in front of them, along with a doll to replicate The Three Bears}. Here are a few examples I’ve set up, and below you’ll find a Freebie for 6 Easy Play Prompts using items you already own:

easy play prompts


under the sea play prompt

Download your Freebie! 6 Easy Play Prompts {including Materials List} 

easy play prompts



Step 2:  Start them off

Does it ever feel like your kids need an instruction manual to play? It seems like our kids have forgotten the art of play! But trust me on this one. INEVITABLY, each time I set our girls up to play {and get involved for the first few moments} they play longer! Just begin by introducing them to the “playscape,” and start pretending! It may feel awkward at first {and you PROBABLY may not feel like it}, but trust me, if you want to see your kids engaged {thus more time for you!} then you need to get them going. Sit alongside them, and engage with them. Be silly with them. Bring out your inner child. Five minutes is usually all it takes!

Step 3:  Thou shall not interrupt!

As tempted as you might be to commend the kids for such cooperative playing, RESIST the temptation! I am not sure what science there is to support this notion, but it seems that inevitably the moment I make a comment about how nicely our girls are playing {or how creative they are being, or how interesting their creations are…} THAT IS WHEN THE PLAYTIME CRUMBLES! It’s like they get taken out of “flow” and become distracted, and no longer wish to make believe. Unless there is an emergency, do not interrupt your kids!

Instead, document what you see. Write down your observations so that you can better plan for future play prompts, and make notes about which toys really get used. This information will help you with your toy rotation schedule. (A future blog post coming your way!)

Once you notice that your kids have “checked out,” and are no longer interested – looking for a change of activity, you can applaud them for such great, imaginative play. Be sure to provide concrete feedback about what you observed {“I noticed that you really got into character! Great job creating that scary story for your dinosaurs!} Make sure you also compliment their cooperative play: “I noticed how well you took turns and shared! Nice work!”

When your kids play, everyone wins.  As parents, we need to provide richer, more enticing conditions for kids to want to play, because we are competing against the strong forces of technology.  The space that surrounds kids, in addition to the quality of experiences we offer – through toys, loose parts, books and materials – will have the most profound effect on our children for years to come. Play is not a luxury, but a necessity.  

What does playtime look like in YOUR house? What kinds of play prompts have you set up for your kids? Share your ideas in the comments – I’m ALWAYS on the lookout for new ideas for our girls!


Dansky, J. (1980). Make-believe: A mediator of the relationship between play and associative fluency. Child Development, 51, 576–579.

Ginsburg, K. (2007). The importance of play in promoting healthy child development and maintaining strong parent-child bonds. Pediatrics, 119(1).

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?