Friday, October 24, 2014

DIY Occupational Therapy & Play Room (in our Unfinished Basement)

So it is still a mess, of course, because, well, I have kids. And we moved only recently. And I'm busy. All the same, I am pretty jazzed about getting the OT room set up in our basement.  We have an unfinished basement in the house we are renting. The floors are cement and the walls are sheet-rocked.  There are 2 windows in part of basement but overall it is, well, an unfinished basement.

What an opportunity! The idea we came up with is a play room in the first portion of the main basement living area and an occupational therapy room in the second portion. There is a bathroom, laundry room, storage room, and a nice carpeted room on the lower level so we like to keep a walkway through the OT area to all that.

These are Trofast shelves from Ikea - our bins don't match but if that's your thing they do sell them individually to mix and match. Toys & Wii games and remotes are housed here.

This is the first section, right at the bottom of the stairs.  I brightened it up with some fun rugs and a floor lamp.  The rugs are mostly Ikea and thrift store finds.  My hubby built a DVD rack (not permanent but it is secured to the wall - way cheaper than bookshelves).

All of the foam letter/character mats are from garage sales and the thrift store. They are fun to play with, make the floor softer, and add color! They make a mess quick though - be warned!  Double hopscotch that appeals to both the girls and the boys! Just be sure to wash anything you buy used though.

Unique Thrift Store in Burnsville is my favorite secondhand store - I find the most amazing treasures there, like this giant marble run. Already assembled, no tiny marbles for Bruce to choke on, and keeps BOTH boys entertained (despite their 4 year age gap).

The first area is separated a bit from the rest of the basement by partial walls with a large opening. This is what we use as a barrier between a play area and the jump around rowdy area. The play area houses a loveseat, bowl chair, arm chair, TV, Wii, 2 Ikea Trofast shelving units, a train table, bookshelf of children's books, cardboard blocks, and some toys. Okay, a lot of toys. Too many toys.

We use the train table to contain messes - train tracks, of course, marble runs, play-doh, coloring, etc.

A friend replaced the carpeting in her house and gave me her old carpet - it fit perfect and works great for the space!

 We got this inflatable pool on clearance for $8 and tried it first as the ball pit but it wasn't a great fit for the space.  And the ball pit balls - over 400, painstakingly collected over months from garage sales and thrift stores. They didn't even come close to filling up the pool!

So we went with this inflatable pool instead that my friend scored on clearance and it fit the area soooo much better. Since it still didn't have enough balls we put 2 Ikea mattresses in the pool.  Most of the pool has twin mattresses in it with the balls filling the remaining space to the brim! Even the oldest kids in the house can jump and slide on the mattresses into the ball pit!

The crash pad is a really big deal in our house! All 6 of the kids here have special needs - and the sensory output the crash pad provides is a great calming tool. I found this enormous and really nice bean bag chair on Craigslist for $30 - it fits 2 adults and comes with an ottoman!

The kiddos jump from the trampolines onto the bean bag chair - we have tumbling mats set up behind it to protect the kids (and the walls).  For a couple of the kids simply sitting in the bean bag chair and having it snug around them is calming - the pressure helps.

The last area is where we "park" the Cozy Coupe, rocking horses, punching bag, treadmill, basketball hoop, etc. That white thing is a puppet stage.  I found it on CL - they had custom made it from 3 dry erase boards. It folds flat for storage and can be written on. The kids use white board markers to draw scenery, the "cast" or even a menu and use it as a drive through window!

The OT room is frequently a mess but at least that mess is downstairs, out of sight, not in my living room! With so much cold weather in Minnesota I love that there is still a place the kids can go to burn off energy and be active.

We rotate the equipment/toys often to keep the area open enough for playing (and keep items in the storage room when not in use). We can put items away to make room for the bouncy ball that you sit on and use to bounce across the room.  A couple of the kids are a big fan of the mini punching bag and basketball hoop.

A couple of the mini tramps can be put away to make room for an indoor tent and tunnels - which is Bruce's favorite! The Candy Land Rug Game can be played here or an elaborate train track can be set up. The girls house their scrapbooking stuff down here - which is awesome because it makes so much mess in their little bedroom.

The girls have little clubhouses/hideouts in their playroom closet and the storage closet, complete with reading lights and bean bag chairs. Great for when they need some quiet alone chill time in a house always full of people and noise.

Read this post for some other sensory-friendly fidget and calming ideas in our schoolroom.

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