Not everyone who childminds is lucky enough to have a dedicated play room in their house. Even some people who have the space for one, would rather tidy the toys away at night and turn what Ofsted calls your ‘childminding setting’ back into your family home. In my blog this week I’ve asked several childminders to share their space-saving tricks with you and how they manage without dedicated play rooms to keep childminding from overrunning their house.
If you are reading this as an email rather than online, you probably want to right click on the little red x-es and download the photos so you can see the pictures!
Make a toy and activities selection book
When you are childminding from a small space, you can’t keep everything out where children can see it, so instead you could do like Claire Toms does and put photos of all the toys and play options into a book. The children can flip through and point to what they want to play with. Not only is this idea a perfect space saver for small spaces, it is a great way to promote literacy as well.
Under-sofa toy storage unit
These storage units are a perfect place to hide the toys at the end of the day after the children have gone home.
Roll-away art materials storage unit
Arts and craft materials take up a lot of space. Claire Toms keeps hers on a trolley that rolls away under the stairs.
Keep the toys in a shed in your garden
Michelle Fitzpatrick solves her storage problem by using the garden. “I have a big shed in the garden which the children can assess like a playroom and a lots of toys are stored there too. I don’t have a huge house or garden but we manage.”
Roll-up sleeping mats
Christine Emery stores the cushions for story time/cosy corner in a nest of tables! I think this is such a clever idea.
Make clever use of your hallways
This childminder minds from a small flat, so she makes the most of her space by using her hallway. The boxes of toys on the floor in the hallway are easy for the children to access, but mean she doesn’t have to look at boxes of kids toys in her living room.
Use your conservatory
I totally love Katie Harper’s indoor sandpit in her conservatory. What a clever idea and a great use of space!
Use your radiators for displays
Becky Pattison has clipped a roll-able poster onto her radiator. She makes them herself. Then at the end of the day she simply unclips them and rolls them away.
Back of door display hangers
Therese Wallace uses back of door organisers for her childminding paperwork that lift down easily at the end of the day.
The key to a small garden is to be very organised and think small
I love how Katie Harper has organised her small garden. She has EVERYTHING in it, just smaller. She has animals, small world play, play house, fairy garden, natural materials and fun, and everything has it’s own neat little area. She has done a wonderful job organising a tiny outdoor space to make the most of it.
Notice boards that lift down and replace with a picture
When you work as a childminder there are a few things that you are supposed to have on display at all times: your registration certificate, paediatric first aid certificate, and the Parent’s Poster showing the phone number for Ofsted etc. If you put these things onto a bulletin board, then you can take it all down each night and your front hallway doesn’t have to look like you are running a B&B.
Hang posters on strings that can be easily lifted down when the children leave, or put photographs into hanging plastic wallet displays that can be removed. Aim to spend no more than 5 minutes preparing your walls for the children in the morning, and have the whole house back to adult space 5 minutes after the last one leaves at the end of the day!
Do you want some printable posters for your childminding setting?
My Posters Pack is a collection of printable posters for your childminding setting including educational posters (ABC charts, days of the week), bulletin board signs and notices, things Ofsted likes to see (welcome posters in many languages, diversity poster, house rules, ‘who is here today’, areas of learning and development poster, characteristics of effective learning poster) plus toy box labels and display ideas for all types of childminders. I have posters for large spaces and tiny spaces and it’s all available as part of my Posters Pack. You can customise the posters for your own setting before you print them.
You can also see inside other childminders’ houses so you can get ideas of how to use small and large spaces effectively. The prize piece from the pack is a totally unique ABC chart (printable in 3 different sizes) designed by 26 childminders from across the UK.
Childminding Best Practice Newsletter
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About Kay Woods and Kids To Go
Kay Woods has been writing and selling childminding resources through her company Kids To Go since 2008. Her products include the Ultimate Childminding Checklist, the Learning Journey Plus for planning, observation and assessment and best practice resources promoting diversity and childminding in the great outdoors (Forest Childcare). She is the author of the Start Learning book set published by Tarquin and she writes the free quarterly Childminding Best Practice Newsletter.
Lots of places offer help to childminders. I provide solutions.