Back in college I worked as an assistant in a Montessori school, and I spent the majority of my time working with the 3 year old group. I was fascinated by all the little “works” and “centers” available for the kids to choose from. When it was work time, the kids would go off into whatever direction they preferred and from the list of choices. They would pick up their project pieces, find a place to sit and get to work.
When the work time was finished, the kids would put everything back – relatively close to the same condition that they found it, and move on to the next project.
I loved watching how this routine worked. The kids loved their work and had no problem putting their project tools away when they were finished.
It’s about organizing and consistancy and we can each do it in our own homes.
Some ideas about organizing project supplies for preschoolers:
- Store easily – Find easy to manage containers with lids for individual projects. Stackable boxes work wonderfully.
- Put crayons in on box while markers are in another. Or stickers in one container while stamps and stamp pads are in another. Separating supplies makes it easier to work with as well as put away and keep organized.
- Make sure the containers are easy for your preschooler to manage. Can they carry it themselves and can they open and close it themselves?
- Find a place to store the containers appropriate to the access. For supplies like crayons and coloring books or paper, you might want those readily available whenever your child wants them. While stamps and ink might need to be put in a cabinet with a lock so your child has to ask for them before they can use it.
- Clear containers make it much easier for non-reader to find the activity they are searching for.
- Simplify – make sure the supply choices are not overwhelming to your child
- Don’t overload your child with too many supplies. Instead of 6 colors of play dough, offer 2 in the play dough set.
- Store extra supplies away in a closet of high in a cabinet that is not readily accessible. Then when the other supplies are low or need replacing, you can easily bring out something new and fun. This works well with an overload of toys too.
- There is no need for 128 crayons when your child is happy with the smaller quantities. Focus on the activity and the creativity or skills involved rather than the choices of too many materials to use.
- Keep it fresh and clean – a tidy space with good usable supplies is the most encouraging for kids to be able to make choices and become interested in getting involved.
- Periodically throw out old coloring books, broken pieces, used up paint, etc.
- Recycle crayons or throw out dried markers replacing with new.
- Keep an eye out for new ideas and fun fresh supplies such as stickers or new paper colors.
- Wipe down containers that collect crumbs (e.g. play dough) so the supplies stay clean and it’s easier for the kids to remember to keep it clean.
If you organize wisely and make a point to create “project kits”, your child can easily find something they may be interested in and jump into projects on their own. While you’re organizing, you can even ask your preschooler to help sort and put away supplies. Get them involved in the process and they will be more apt to appreciate the organization you’ve done.
These kinds of opportunities help to teach kids responsibility and self reliance while they’re having fun.
Do you have a favorite organizing tip for your preschooler’s project supplies?