The Pre-preschool

NOTE: Although our school is closed I’m leaving this page up in hopes that it will help others design their play environments

The Environment….it’s all about the Environment. I’m not talking about the Al-Gore-save-the-polar-bears type of Environment. Our preschool environment is changing. Finally. For the past year we have had the family child care/preschool in our living room. For those of you who did not read my Begin Here… page let me fill you in- having a child care business in your living space is TOUGH. I am not an especially organized person, my place usually looks messy but it is controlled chaos…if that makes sense. My toilets are clean, counters wiped down and floors swept but chaos on top.

Anyhoo, every morning I wake up and clean. On top of struggling with bleary eyes from lack of sleep, trying to feed myself and Darwin, and most importantly making coffee. Darwin is a pro at vacuuming and wiping things down. He is 16 months old. What do you think he is imitating? Hmmmmm.

BUT! I am so pleased and excited to announce that we are moving the preschool into our ohana. Sadly, it means our friend Nicole is moving out but the change for us is amazing. Here is what our Environment looked like in our house….considering it was our living space, it’s pretty awesome.IMG_1741



We are very fortunate that we have the available space to do a layout like this. Darwin has thrived…until recently. He is mobile now (18 mos), I’m prrrretty sure he is developing ADHD because he has a zillion toys at his fingertips. Not necessary. And I’m prrrretty sure I’m going crazy because I have to pick them up as soon as I pick them up. I shed tears when he dumped out a box of blocks earlier this month. Cried. And there are children starving in Africa, and I cried. Ridiculous.

Last night Nicole moved out…boo, but we have our space…a blank canvas.

October 24

It’s been over one month of building, creating, nailing, hanging, and moving tons of furniture…but we have finally created something that is close to my dream/vision for our little school.

General overview of our space



Entrance Area

shoe pile

How cute are these little shoes!?!? Love, love, love them. Also, here are our gourds from our gourd hunting expedition ready to be painted for the holidays 🙂


Our entrance area is pretty packed with goodies. It’s also where the kiddos eat snack and lunch, and where cars and bikes are stored and personal bags are hung.

Art Corner

art corner

I know this looks a little like a jail…but it might be my biggest stroke of genius. I add new materials everyday, the kiddos can go in and play, explore, feel, taste….WHATEVER they really want to do with the new media. And then it STAYS IN THERE! It frees me up from stressing over paint smeared all over everything, and frees them up to explore freely. Amazingly I can fit in there with at least four kiddos…it looks quite small in this picture.

This particular multi-media-collage was three days of work: the first day was crayons, second day was watercolors and the third day was gluing on confetti pieces. Excited to see how it eventually turns out.


We have moved over our beloved fish tank. It is located in our science area where we also have sensory bottles, fresh cut plants or flowers, a growing sweet potato plant, nature books and matching card games, endemic Hawaiian shrimp (Opae ula) and a variety natural items to touch, taste, and feel (rocks, shells, crystals, etc.).



In the middle of the room we have some music shelves with many instruments displayed in such a way that encourages them to be used everyday. Also nearby are some speakers so we can have daily dance parties. The kiddos often grab an instrument during these parties….chaos ensues 🙂 …the good kind.


Dramatic play

When my mom was here she gifted us the most aweome IKEA kitchen, complete with fruits, vegetables, pots and pans and random utensils. It has been used everyday since it was erected.


As well as the kitchen, we have a play farm, dress up clothes and puppets (not pictured here…).


This is by far the most trafficked area….well, maybe tied with the book nook. The three-year-olds can spend hours on building blocks while the 1 1/2 year-olds are obsessed with puzzles and stacking.


pink tower

bead rollercoaster

Other areas of importancekitchencraftstorage

The kitchen/storage area…

So there you have it! I’m super excited to have the space. Since moving over here I have not cried over spilled blocks. Thankfully. My home is, once again, a home. We still have many ideas that need to be implemented but I’m taking baby steps to get it right. Thanks for reading!


It doesn’t matter what you got going on in the Indoor Environment if you don’t have something going on outside. We are fortunate that our weather is usually cooperating and we can get outside for and hour or two each day. Kiddos need outside play more than anything else….okay, maybe not more than love but it’s pretty important.

We have been working on an extremely tight budget but here are a few of our favorite things about our outdoor space.

Music Wall


Simple pots and pans produce big smiles once banged upon.

Balance Beam


Very simple but important to develop balance and improve gross motor skills

Water Table


One of the first additions to the preschool. It’s plastic and cheap-o but provides endless hours of play.



Adults might enjoy this more than kiddos, it’s pretty darn cool…so very simple to make.

Our Animals


In addition to the goats, we also spend time with a dog, cat, fish and shrimp.

We have more that I have not taken photos of yet, and a big dream list of play equipment we hope to build- including this amazing Hive. Drool, drool, drool.

To be continued…

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