Creating Playful Spaces: Start with a Nook

Creating Playful Spaces: Start with a Nook

Participants in the Playful Learning Spaces Workshop will often ask about the best way to get started creating engaging spaces for their children. I think it is most practical to start with something simple. When we start out by wanting to tackle the big areas in our home, it can become overwhelming and often lead to analysis paralysis—and not much being accomplished.

I have seen that little changes can make a big difference and are a great way to build your confidence and create a positive momentum. It is for this reason that I often recommend that people start by finding a little nook or corner in their home where they can leave out a theme-based basket of materials for their children to discover. When you start looking through your children’s toys and materials with the idea of sorting them by themes, you will often find that you already have everything you need to create an inviting nook. You will be amazed to find that old toys presented in new ways can spark a fresh interest in your child.


Creating Playful Spaces: Start with a Nook

Math Games

Creating Playful Spaces: Start with a Nook


Creating Playful Spaces: Start with a Nook



With over 10 years of EDU experience and a growing family, Mariah started Playful Learning in 2008 as a resource for parents and teachers. In 2010 Playful Learning received the Parent’s Choice Gold Medal, and in August of 2011, Shambhala Publications released her first book, Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder. Mariah has an M.S. Ed in Elementary Education and was that girl sitting in the back of class thinking about what she would do differently if she was the teacher. Now she is happily working with a team of gifted educators to bring life-changing lessons to children, families, and schools around the world. In her free time she can be found taking long walks, enjoying a cup of tea, or swimming in the Atlantic with her husband and two daughters.



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  1. This is a great post. Would you please if you can give us names or resources for the items in each basket. I am especially interested in the items in the math, astronomy and sketching baskets, but love them all.

  2. I am so happy to have found this lovely blog! I’m currently creating a playroom in our finished basement, and I need it to work for all my children’s ages (5,3,1). Does anyone have suggestions or advice for me? I want to include stations or play areas somehow….art, dress ups, etc. I’m a bit overwhelmed 🙂 Thanks!!

    1. Hi Meg – How exciting! Here is a list of our posts on creating Playful Learning spaces for children:

      We also offer the Playful Learning Spaces eCourse, which takes you through setting up different “stations” or areas in your home that nurture reading, writing, art, science, music, and more…

      Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions…

  3. I came across your site and love your ideas and concept. I implement some of these nooks and baskets in my own family, but had not thought of the math one with math games. Great ideas and information!

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