Lil’ JEMS Makeover, Preschool Room

Yarmouth has a special place in my heart. After working on the Toddler Room at Lil’ Jems, I came back to finish two more rooms and to do a 2-hour workshop for home care providers. It was an awesome experience because of the awesome people who let me helped me mess up their room and put it back together.

We were working on an L-shaped Preschool room for 16 children. The biggest challenge was… the lockers. Originally, children’s belongings were jammed into this monstrosity… which didn’t provide much independence for children. 

Before

With great care, a team of strong women moved this custom-made, built-in cupboard in its place. 

After

The lower part will house the cots and the top part will be used for storing classroom materials. The move freed up the space in the hallway where we put newly purchased lockers. It looks almost too simple on photos but my muscles still hurt three days later.

After

Inspired by our unexpected success with the lockers, we decided to redesign the whole room. The idea was to give popular Block area more space, to add Manipulatives, to move smaller and quieter Book corner and Art centre closer together, and to give room some character. 

These two shelves were moved to the corner.

Before
Before

Now they are sitting side by side, offering move playthings; and trees and dinosaurs are decorating their tops.  

After

See that beautiful basket? It will be used for ramps, pipes, and other long items. And the green trellis will go all the way up to the ceiling creating a lovely and sophisticated green wall. 

We added a small Lego station by the block shelf instead of using the whole table for it.  

Before

At this age, Lego is so popular that it can have its own spot.

After

The housekeeping area got a face lift but we left it where it was. We moved dishes from the shelf to the kitchen and used the shelf to display dress up clothes, accessories, and puppets in a more inviting manner. It will also be easier to sort items into small see-through baskets rather than a tall one that hid all its treasures. 

Before
After
Before
After

We created a new area, with storage for puzzles, and loose parts activities on trays. This is going to be very popular after the nap time!

Loose parts invitation to play

It seemed logical to place the book corner next to the book shelf on the wall. It will have a fabric canopy above and a love seat or a chair to the side of it. Family members could sit there and maybe read a book to their child before saying good bye. And the back of the shelf facing the chairs will become a huge felt board!

Cozy book area

The Art centre is now located between the Book corner and the entrance. If it is set up beautifully every day, it will draw attention of all creative spirits in the room first thing in the morning!

Before
After

The back of the adjacent shelf will be used to display children’s artwork on their eye level. 

Here is the right wing: blocks, housekeeping, manipulatives, and sensory play. 

Right wing

Here is the left wing: books, quiet area, and art. 

Left wing

After we set up all the areas, we added some accents that resonated with the good vibes of this place. 

Speaking of good vibes… After all work was done, we went to this amazing restaurant called Gaia Global Kitchen. The food was delicious and look at this washroom sign! It was one of those moments when you can’t find any words and then realize that you don’t need them anyway. Just enjoy the feeling…

Oh, and what about that second room? It didn’t need much work because the staff, inspired by the first Todder room makeover, made significant changes to their smaller toddler room using the same approach as for the first one. Lynn, who teaches in that room, organized the storage and made a beautiful display on the wall for which I can’t take any credit. 

Yet, this might be the most significant part of any makeover. The idea is not to just move the shelves and stage the room to look beautiful. The most important thing is to share the reasons for the changes and see the teaching team use them to shape their environments in new and exciting ways.

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