Creating a Stimulating Play Environment
Having a great playgroup environment is not just about having the right toys and equipment. It also involves setting out activities in a way that makes them safe, accessible and appealing to children.
Things to consider before setting up the play environment:
- Are the toys and activities appropriate for the ages and levels of development of the children attending the playgroup?
- Is there a range of play experiences being offered such as make-believe and role play with dress-ups and props such as pots and pans, an old laptop etc.?
- Are the toys and activities you plan to offer inclusive and considerate of children with additional needs?
- Are there toys and activities which display a sensitivity towards the cultural backgrounds of all the members of the group or your surrounding community?
- Is there enough equipment such as glue pots, brushes and scissors for the number of children in the group?
- Rather than set up all toys or activities at every session, make a plan to rotate activities. This keeps things fresh and interesting for everyone.
Setting up the play environment
- If you have the space spread out the play materials and toys in as large an area as you can reasonably manage. This helps separate the activities clearly, prevents a feeling of being overcrowded and is less overwhelming for children.
- Use floor space as well as small tables to provide a variety of play surfaces.
- Set up an area for quiet play with cushions or soft mats, where children and adults can relax and read a book or do a puzzle together.
- If you can, have messy activities set up in areas close to a sink and with hard floor surfaces such as vinyl or tiles. This will make cleaning up easier and prevent damage to other surfaces such as carpets.
- Set up a designated safe baby space.
- Ride-on toys are best used in outdoor areas or clearly defined spaces if inside.
- Try to limit the number of toys out at one time. This is less overwhelming for children and allows them the space to make choices. It will also make it easier to pack away and help avoid pieces getting mixed up and going missing.
What happens at each playgroup session will be guided by the participants’ needs and interests. Most playgroup sessions run for 1.5 to 2 hours.
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