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How to set up a successful play area in your home to foster a love of music!
Now, I’m going to preface this by saying there is definitely not a one size fits all approach. The best way to invite children to play and explore musical instruments will be totally dependent on their age, stage and interests. It is also important to point out that instruments do not need to be played with ‘correctly’ for the musical benefits to be reaped. Meeting a child where they want to play, means maximum engagement.
Factors to consider when setting up for musical play:
Age:Children of different ages will play with instruments differently. For example, a baby who is learning to pull to stand is going to be more interested in shakers and small instruments placed on a sturdy height appropriate table, whereas a baby who is learning to sit would enjoy instruments at ground level such as hitting a xylophone or exploring bells.
Height: Another factor to consider when setting up your play space is the height of your children. In my experience, my children play better when given a lowline surface that’s roughly the height of their stomach or torso – think train table, or shelf. Having the toys at eye level, reachable and plenty of space to manipulate the toys leads to more engaged play.
The number of toys on display: This is another consideration to make based on your child’s interests. My children like to have several loose parts out to make towers, towns, and line them up. So, our shelf looks rather cluttered compared to some other shelves, where their children’s play is more focused on mastering an individual instrument, toy or task. In either of these situations, a large number of people find toy rotation to be key to keeping children enthused and engaged in their toys. Toy rotation is the practise of having a smaller selection of toys out for children to play with and rotating them either on a schedule (i.e. weekly or fortnightly) or when the children begin to lose interest in the current toys on offer. You may like to set up a specific musical section or even a ‘band corner’ which can be great for role playing, however mixing instruments with various other types of toys can make for some amazingly creative and musical play.
Schemas: A simple definition of a schema is the pattern of play. For example, one child may be interested in a rotational schema and find great joy in playing with an instrument like the stirring xylophone, while another child may be exploring a transportation schema and enjoy moving their instruments across the room and in and out of baskets or toy prams. Another child may be interested in a trajectory schema and this could be encourage using musical instruments by setting up a xylophone like a ramp and dropping balls down the ramp or throwing toys off the highchair that make different noises when they land on the floor.
There is no quick fix or secret recipe to creating the perfect musical haven for your little one in your home. It’s going to take a bit of trial and error. Observe to see how your children play to find out what is going to help them engage and encourage their passion for music.
Written by Amethyst Meade - Mother of two and play schooler at Treasure Hunt Mumma.