Monday, January 26, 2009

Small Spaces & Waldorf

The question came up on the list this week about how one could work within a small space. What essentials would a person need to homeschool within a space budget? List members have shared some great ideas for essential toys, crafting items and books. One of my favorite ideas was to use a window ledge as a nature table. This reminded me of all the other ways in which we creatively fit things into small spaces. We used to live in a condo and had very little space, but even now that we live in a house it seems that we still don't have enough space because my imagination is endless! If I had unlimited space and money I would have a music room, a craft room, a library, and...well, you get the idea! Even people with a lot of space can benefit from space saving ideas.

When I think of fitting a lot into a little space the first thing I do is try to scale everything down. Instead of purchasing large paper, you can purchase smaller sizes of watercolor paper. Instead of using an entire table for the nature table, why not use the window ledge, as a couple members already pointed out? Other things you can downsize -

1. A small table-top puppet theater can substitute for an entire shelf of wooden figures or even for a larger puppet show. This little theater is small and portable. It is also easy to store and easy to access when you want to use it for storytelling time (see picture).

2. There are so many things that are "table top" nowadays - how about a table-top blackboard? A table-top easel?

3. Instead of shelves with large baskets you can place smaller baskets of crafts and items around the house in different areas.

4. Instead of large blocks you can buy a small set of architecture blocks.

5. Instead of a piano or guitar or violin you can go with the traditional Waldorf recorder and/or kinder-harp. These are much smaller than the instruments many children play today and take less space to store.

6. Instead of a large dollhouse you can have the dolls live under a wooden mushroom, in a tree house (made from a trunk) or in a small tent.

7. Instead of a doll-bed, the dolls can co-sleep with the "little parent".

8. Instead of a stroller for the doll a child can use a miniature version of a sling to carry their doll.

Whatever you are thinking of buying think about what smaller versions there may be available. Of course, smaller is not always "better" if the child is 3 or under and still putting objects in their mouth. However, children over the age of 4 or 5 seem to have a fascination with small objects and toys. The popularity of "Polly Pockets" and "Littlest Pet Shop" mainstream toys have proven that with their great success in the mainstream market.


boatbaby said...

Great topic and one near and dear to my heart. Talk about a small space, we live on a sailboat. First and foremost our "space" is the outdoors. We are not focused on the inside at all unless we are forced by bad weather to do so. Even if it's raining, if it's a warm rain we're out splashing in the puddles, building rock dams, etc.

Inside, we have a nature "box" rather than table. Instead of purchased wood carved items, we have actual items found in nature. Small baskets filled with silks, natural items, blocks line a small "window ledge" area. A small sewing basket, art box, seasonal books set aside in a little container. Instead of a play stand, we hang silks over the table.
It's not about the stuff, or the space. It's about the spirit.

Wendy said...

The puppet theatre is lovely. Did you make it? I have noticed that my 5 yos is very drawn to plying with small things and I would love to make him a table top puppet theatre! Any suggestions?

Artistmama said...

Good ideas! I especially love the idea of a windowsill nature table. I have to think like that in my small space.

Crescent Moon said...

Those are great tips!
Just a little less than a year ago, we moved from a house to a University student apartment. It's very small and very crowded.
One of the toy ideas that I made was a foldable play mat that has pockets for all the little bendy dolls. When it's not being used, it can hang from a door knob by two straps.
We also use the closet for more than just clothes. My son has a good size closet in his room, so on one side are his clothes, on the opposite side his chalk board hangs on the wall.
We do most of our craft projects outside.
Our classroom is usually a bed-tray siting on my bed.