Setting Up Shop: Making the Most of Your Small Space

  Whether you are in a classroom or home, it can be difficult to find space for all of your children's activities. One way to utilize space is to go vertical. Not only does this free up floor space, but it also helps build coordination and strength.

  Here are a few ways to go up:

Contact Paper Wall
  Cut contact paper to size and shape desired. Tape or staple to wall with the backing facing out. I use masking tape around the entire edge and a few staples to secure in place. Remove the backing once contact paper is hung securely. It generally lasts about a week before needing to be replaced.
  My children have used foam blocks, puzzle pieces, paint sample strips, sentence strips, and fabric on vertical contact paper. One of their favorite activities is standing with their back pressed flat against the sticky paper, then pulling themselves away.

Masking Tape or Painter's Tape
  Use a surface that won't be damaged by tape, like the side of a wooden bookshelf or fridge. Younger children can pull tap strips off. Older children can rip or cut tape and create an image before pulling it off. Tape should not stay up for extended periods of time or it may damage the surface.

Felt Board
  Hang a piece of felt. Cut out or purchase shapes and characters. Children can tell stories, make pictures, sing songs, and spell words using felt pieces. My children enjoy repetitive counting songs, like 5 Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.

Magnet Boards/Cookie Sheets
  Add a magnetic board or hang cookie sheets. There are many varieties of magnets available for story telling, spelling, counting, and creating images. Make sure the magnets you purchase are not a choking hazard.

  Easels are a great way to bring play up off the floor. There are may style available and many include options like dry erase, chalk, and magnets. Since it is already vertical, you would be able to use some of the other ideas in this article on the easel. I had contact paper on mine in the past.

Lego Plates
  Hang a Lego base plate on the wall or end of a toy shelf. You will still need storage for the actual Lego pieces, but it will bring the actual play space up off of the floor. Maybe you will step on a few less Legos, too.

Pocket Charts
  Pocket charts are typically found in classrooms. If you have little ones who enjoy card games, sorting photos, or playing with flash cards, then a pocket chart is a great way to bring that activity vertical. There are many sizes and types. Some are even magnetic, which means you could have a multi-purpose space.

Windows and Mirrors
  Dry erase markers are easily removed from windows and mirrors. Using a window also offers a different view, since light will shine through the drawings.
  You can also use clear contact paper sticky side out in a window or mirror.  Children can put transparent items, like leaves or tissue paper, up or solid items and find the shadows.

  In a space like mine, where multiple children play, it is great to have so many options available. How do you maximize play space?