Child Care Essentials

I’m a mother of a busy 4-year-old boy and have been working in the childcare field for 15+ years.  Throughout the years, I’ve learned that a few items are absolutely necessary (in my opinion) for running a daycare.

Furniture is the first essential for any daycare, so items such as lockers are great as they keep items organized and accessible. Organization is key in encouraging children to put things away for themselves independently. A great way to help organize a daycare is to put toys inside of a clear or open container so that the children can see what’s inside and where it goes; labelling the bins also helps with this. Items like the Preschool Enviro Upholstered Furniture Set are wonderful as the pieces are comfortable, simple, durable and easy to wipe clean. Easily cleanable surfaces and furniture is definitely a must for daycares, as items need to be cleaned very often to ensure the health and safety of the children.

My overall must-have is engaging areas and toys for the children to interact with.  For this, my top pick is a sand and water table and a sensory light table for all of the children’s sensory exploration needs.  Items that would be good to accompany these would be modelling sand, play foam, tree blocks and numbers and math signs.  These tend to be items that most children don’t use often if they are not attending a daycare centre, so thus they are already captivated by a new area and new materials to play with and expanding that play and learning. Adding simple materials and loose parts can do wonders for a child’s development and imagination to create.

My overall personal favourite area in daycare is an open, organized art area filled with all the materials available for the children to create with at their fingertips.  Arts and crafts supplies, like loose paper, pencil crayons, markers, scissors, glue sticks, tissue paper, popsicle sticks, googly eyes, pom-poms, pipe cleaners and any other materials that a child can use to make anything they desire.  This is a great area to add reusable materials to as well such as paper towel rolls, newspaper, Kleenex boxes, and old greeting cards and so on.

Daycares don’t need to be busy and complicated; they just need those key areas for children to be fully immersed in to keep them constantly learning about themselves and their environment.

Written by Michelle Ducharme, an Early Learning and Childcare Supervisor in Alberta

Costume Storage

Tickle trunk or costume closet? How do you manage your costume collection?

Ever since Mr. Dressup, I have wanted my own tickle trunk. The red flower covered trunk was a magical thing, full of fun, launching on adventure after adventure.

So naturally, when I had children of my own I began collecting costumes.  Not just store bought but collected clothes. Pirates, cowboys, and dragons along with random hats, capes and belts were slowly added to our ever-growing pile. So what to do with it?

When it comes to dress ups, there are a few standard options each with their own benefits and limits. Let’s discuss some options.

Mr. Dressup’s Tickle Trunk, at the CBC Museum in Toronto. Photo by JeremyW.

Tickle Trunks

The simplest go to is the trunk. Whether you use old suitcases that slide under a bed, a storage basket, or a box – any container can hold your costumes.  While cleanup can be as fast as jamming everything in until you can close the lid, the downside is the difficulty of searching through the piles.

Coat Racks and Hooks

If your collection is small, or if there are some daily favourites a coat rack or clothing tree can be a great option. They don’t take much space, are cost-effective, can be used almost anywhere.  Having the options visible can encourage children to dive into creative play, and when the play is done clean up is pretty easy. Of course, unless you line your rooms with hooks or create a cloakroom of coat trees, they have their limits as to how many costumes they can hold.

Dress Up Centres

If you need more space a dress-up centre can be a great solution. These purpose-built systems have a combination of hanging storage and open shelving for smaller items, as well as a mirror, to see how awesome you look!

The space-saving Rotating Dress Up Storage has 2 oval mirrors and 5 storage compartments, making it great for accessories and finishing touches but not full-length costumes.

The Toddler Dress Up Island and the slightly larger Dress Up Centre feature a hanging rail or hook area for long costumes, as well as shelves for accessories and space for shoes or boots. These systems are a great option for medium-sized collections and have the same benefit of being able to see the play clothes.

Costume Closets

The largest of the options is a full Dress Up Cupboard.  Similar to a wardrobe these are great options for larger collections and spaces where seeing the costumes would be a distraction like in shared spaces. Larger than the dress-up centres, these can be a beautiful furniture addition to a room, while containing all the costumes it can hold. With a shatterproof mirror on the inside of the doors and hooks inside this closet, it has an additional low shelf to hold your variety of costume pieces.

Ryan Roth Bartel is a father of 2 boys (elementary and pre-kindergarten).

Create-a-Space Storage Centre

Do you have dollarstore baskets on your students desks that end up breaking before the year is up? Are your student tables a mess?

Deciding what to keep on student’s desks and what to store elsewhere is challenging. We want to encourage independence in our students but ensuring supplies are respected and kept tidy is a must.

The Create-a-Space Storage Centre is a wonderful solution that will last and serve many functions in the classroom. It has eight brightly coloured containers, a centre cup and a tray.

All the containers are sturdy and can be organised as you need for each lesson. This allows only the materials needed for the activity, to be available. Less materials are easier to manage and keep tidy, especially for younger students.

Keeping pencils sharpened can often be a challenge to manage. If you have different sized pencils the Double Hole Pencil Sharpener is great for sharpening standard size pencils, or jumbo learner pencils.

Having a dedicated container for the sharpener and pencil shavings, avoids students having to leave their work to walk to the garbage can.

The Centre Cup is perfect for writing and colouring supplies.

However you choose to use the Create-a-Space Storage Centre, you will enjoy its durability and versatility.