One of the primary reasons early years environments can look cluttered is lack of storage space. It can be tempting to short-change storage, but it really should be a big consideration. Sacrificing storage can often have the opposite effect of what is intended, with usable space looking cluttered, having too much choice and being taken up by supplies or miscellaneous items.
Think about what you display and why – too much can be visually overloading
A shelf filled with baskets and tubs may keep things organised but isn’t particularly inviting. With all the materials tucked away, children forget to explore the amazing items within. If you have collections or sets with small and many pieces sored in baskets, it may be an idea to take some out of the basked and display them next to or in front of it – this will encourage children to discover.
Storage options can be creative and attractive. You can even incorporate them as a feature or furniture. If your environments are to be accessible and inviting, you ideally need to have designated places for extra equipment, resources and supplies.
We have lots of clever hidden storage solutions in our settings, one example is out pallet and tyre tables which double as building platforms. We have one of these in our construction area and for our light table. What you will not know by looking at these is that we use the spaces in the tyres underneath as storage.
We also use shelves which are out of the children’s reach to store some resources, often smaller ones which would be used under supervision. These are visible to children so they are able to ask for them but cannot directly access them. I also find that having these types of resources on display helps staff to remember what we have available and inspires them to put them to use.
Spaces look more beautiful when they are organised. Display some items openly on shelves and other collections in containers.