Creating Playful Spaces: Start with a Nook

October 15, 2012

Creating Playful Spaces: Start with a Nook

Participants in the Playful Learning Spaces eCourse 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



Creating Playful Spaces: Start with a Nook

Math Games

Creating Playful Spaces: Start with a Nook



Mariah Bruehl is a parent, educator, and author of the book Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder (Shambhala Publications, 2011). In 2008 Mariah brought her expertise online, creating the Parents’ Choice Gold Medal award-winning Web site Playful Learning. In 2011 she launched the Playful Learning Ecademy, which takes virtual-learning experiences to a new level by incorporating the best practices in education with engaging hands-on lessons, bringing parents and children together from all over the world into a unique, creative, community environment.


  1. Liz said on October 15, 2012 #

    Hi Mariah! Do you have any suggestions for creating interest baskets for an almost 7 month old? Thanks!:)


  2. Elizabete D. Ângelo said on October 15, 2012 #

    this is a great idea and I would like to offer you one of my hand made basket, if you allow me, please send me a adress. best wishes. Elizabete

  3. Karen said on October 15, 2012 #

    Liz, Have you looked at treasure baskets for babies? These would make great ‘interest baskets’ like the ones shown here but for a younger child… let me see if I can find you a good link… Some great ideas for different ‘themed’ treasure baskets here –

  4. Debbie Rosenkranz said on October 15, 2012 #

    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.

  5. Monique B said on October 19, 2012 #

    I love the simplicity and the appealing presentation. What child (or adult) could resist?

  6. [...] great ideas for creating engaging spaces for your little ones (Playful [...]

  7. Meg Vlach said on November 9, 2012 #

    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!!

  8. Mary said on February 21, 2013 #

    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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