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Dear Debi,
I have a small den in my house that I want to convert into a fun activity room. How should I do it?
Veronica, Lake Balboa, CA
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
Host
  • Set up clearly defined areas for separate activities
  • Always have reading, dramatic play, blocks and art areas
  • Rotate learning areas
Expert Advice
Jean Barbre, Ed.D.
Jean Barbre, Ed.D.
Early childhood development specialist
If each of your learning spaces has a theme, the areas can interact with each other so that kids have a connection with each space. Themes help children create a link between the learning they do within the areas. There should be specific areas for reading, dramatic play, art & construction, math & science, and a writing area.

If you have limited space, use mobile furniture to rotate learning areas. Use portable items such as baskets and bins to move things around and change up the learning for the kids. Remember that you can utilize outdoor areas to create additional learning spaces for the children in your care. For example, consider converting a garage or patio into an art area.
Child Care provider Comments
Mary
Mary
Provider for 10 years
In a small space, I would recommend getting creative. Interchange things and designate certain days to bring out different elements. Also, extend the space to utilize the outdoors. Even if you donít have a big backyard and all you have is a small patio, you can bring an art easel outside and make it into an ďart center.Ē
Sandy
Sandy
Family child care provider for 5 years
Setting up different areas is very stimulating for a child and allows them to learn new things. When you put a new toy in front of him, his first reaction is to be attracted to it and explore it. An area works in much the same way. You can use an area as small as a 2 feet by 2 feet. Throw down a pillow, put down a basket of books and youíve created a reading center. I think itís important to use whatever you already have. Things donít have to be from fancy educational stores or cost a lot of money. I like baskets because they are easy to move around. It really just takes creativity when youíre working with a small space.
Darlene Patterson
Darlene Patterson
Family child care provider for 22 years and mother of three
In small spaces, I think itís important not to bring in really big items and donít nail things down. In other words, make the most of your space by buying smaller items and make everything mobile. I have limited space in my care so I make sure what I have is mobile and I also buy a lot of stuff that can go up on the walls. Itís just a matter of being flexible and being willing to move things around.

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Topic: Child Care Management
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Resources
The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC)
1-800-359-3817
U.S. Department of Education
PBS Kids
Zero to Three: National Center For Infants, Toddlers and Families
PBS Teacher Source
Teacher QuickSource
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Children Learn Best When YouÖ pdf
 
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