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Making our studio toddler friendly

by Jean Van't Hul
November 30, 2010

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I reorganized our studio (which doubles as a laundry room) earlier this month to make it more toddler friendly. The goal was to make the studio accessible for Daphne and the toddler art group (mostly by lowering the table) while making it safe for them. I wanted everything within Daphne's reach to be be safe for her – i.e. nothing sharp, toxic, or a choking hazard. Of course I plan to be supervising her when she's in here, but still need to keep it safe.

With that in mind, I rearranged the items on the studio shelves so that tape, markers, Do-a-Dot markers, paintbrushes, and paper are on the lower shelf that Daphne can reach. The glitter glue is there for now as well since Daphne doesn't know how to unscrew the tops yet.

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You all saw this coming, right? This is what Daphne likes to do with the items she can reach — toss them on the floor.

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Above the lowest shelf are a couple of shelves that Maia can reach but Daphne can't. They hold paints (tempera and watercolors) as well as fabric scraps, feathers, scissors, hole punch, oil pastels, and painting utensils (rollers, foam brushes, scrubbies, etc).

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At the top are shelves that only I can reach. They hold bins of acrylic paint, printing stuff (brayer, printing ink), hot glue gun, etc as well as extra paper. I keep the liquid watercolors up there too because they can make quite a mess and are not very washable.

Okay, on to the rest of the studio…

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As I said, the studio table was lowered to toddler height which means it's great now for Daphne and the toddler art group. It also means it's really too short for Maia. It was getting too short for her before we lowered it and now it's way too short. She still uses it but looks rather comical when she does. I'd like to find a second studio table the right height for her.

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For now, though, I brought the easel into the studio as an alternate work surface for Maia. It's standing where my sewing table used to be and I really like how the studio feels with it.

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I've mentioned before that we have a new dresser in the studio. The lower drawers contain things that I don't mind Daphne getting into — cotton balls, wood blocks, splat mat, yarn. The middle drawers have papers of various kinds and are accessible by Maia — construction paper, watercolor paper, drawing paper, tissue paper, blank books. The top drawers have a few things I'd like to control access to, such as the Pentel fabric crayons, glitter, and crayon shavings. Also, as you can see, our art drying wall is partially obstructed by the dresser, which is okay for now, but not a great long term solution. (Note: This picture was taken right before the table was lowered.)

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Last of all, our studio has a door to keep Daphne out if necessary — if Maia's using materials I don't want Daphne to get into or if I can't be there to supervise her.

As for the rest of the house — I've mostly just been moving art materials slowly up as Daphne's reach has extended. Some of what we used to keep out on tables has been moved to the studio and some I've just put higher up. While I want to keep some materials away from Daphne completely (scissors!), others I want her to use when supervised (crayons, markers, chalk, paint). This toddler accessibility issue will be ongoing and will obviously continue to change as she grows older. Some things I'll keep moving higher up, some things I'll start leaving out for her to use on her own.

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