Indoor Environments

Ideas and observations from childcare settings of ways to utilise indoor spaces.

Indoor Environments

Texture Wall – 19th October 2017

The staff of Teach na hÓige in Liscarroll, Co. Cork used materials from Early Childhood Ireland partner ReCreate ( to create textural interest on the wall of the Baby Room. By using texture in this way, babies and young children are given an opportunity to explore and to develop language. The children can sit with staff and talk about the various different textures, building sensory experience.

A texture wall with pieces of material on it - Indoor Environments Texture wall with different items stuck on it - Indoor Environments




Restful Catkins Babies… – 19th July 2017

An unused press become a restful cave for the babies of Catkins, Longford. On a recent Síolta visit, Catherine Quinn Early Childhood Ireland saw babies crawl in and out of this lovely space. The sense of enclosure offers the children some quite time away from the busyness of the room. What a lovely, simple idea that is so very effective.

Homemade fort for children - Indoor Environments



A quiet time for busy children… – 11th January 2017

Having a quiet space where children can rest is now a necessity for all early childhood settings. A space to get away from the hustle and bustle, a place to gather thoughts and reflect or merely just a place to be alone, even if it’s just for a moment or two. This is a simple idea that Catherine Quinn, Early Childhood Ireland came across on a recent visit to Windmill Nursery’s, Slane. A hoola hoop and some light tulle material is all that’s required for this inviting space to ‘chill’. Having the material draping down around the area makes it enclosed and defined to help encourage the child to feel safe and ‘away’ from it all. 

A quiet space for children in a childcare setting - Indoor Environments



Worldly Displays – 18th December 2016

Máire Corbett, Early Childhood Ireland, saw this clever display of postcards when she visited Crawford Childcare, Cork. Staff and parents send a postcard back from any trips they are on….home or abroad. The conversations between the children and the practitioners about where the card has come from, who sent it, what is in the photo, how long it took the card to arrive are all rich opportunities for discussion and learning.

Yellow wall with postcards on it - Indoor Environments Wall with postcards from different countries on it - Indoor Environments




A time to be… – 12th December 2016

When we think of storytelling in Ireland, we often think of a time when people are gathered with the smell of turf burning engrossed in tales of days gone by! In Sundancers, Castlepollard, Catherine Quinn, Early Childhood Ireland came across this scene. The frame of an old fireplace was used and basket of turf was left on the hearth. The children helped themselves to the turf as though feeding the fire. As they sat face to face they chatted, read, and drew in each other’s company. By making real scenes like this fireplace, the stories flowed as though they were in the comfort of their own homes. Now that Christmas is approaching this could be a lovely space for children to share their stories as we lead up to Christmas day. Remember, 96% of children learn to read but those who develop lovely memories and associations with books and stories become lifelong readers.

Storytelling space in childcare setting with fireplace and turf - Indoor Environments




Making Documentation Visible to Parents – 5th December 2016

Making documentation visible to parents in an accessible way is very important. Parents need to see what is interesting and engaging in their child’s early childhood setting and they need to be able to make comments, give feedback and discuss what is happening. In Crawford childcare, Maire Corbett from Early Childhood Ireland could see they have come up with 2 ways of doing this. Hanging the group Learning journal, with the current page open, outside the door of the room, means that parents can see at a glance what emergent interests are happening. Using a large box in the lobby also gives the journal prominence and visibility. How are you making your documentation visible to parents? 



Comfy Chairs – 1st December 2016

On a recent visit to Cherish Childcare, Castledermot, Co. Kildare, Kathleen Tuite, Early Childhood Ireland, spoke to Audrey about the big comfy chairs in the baby and wobbler rooms. Audrey said they were used to support quality interactions between the staff and small children. A place to sit with comfort for the staff and a place to share special moments between the staff and the children. It is important to be able to hold and comfort/cuddle and talk with children in comfortable surroundings and what better way than to have an adult sized chair to relax in with a small child on your lap. In the busy day of caring for small children there are not too many opportunities for staff to sit and relax, but in Cherish childcare they make every effort to seize these moments when they arise and make the most of them.


Illuminating ideas – 21st September 2016
Máire Corbett from Early Childhood Ireland liked this idea to give interest to a ceiling. She spotted it in the toddler room in Nurture Childcare, Blackrock, Cork on a recent Síolta support visit. The paper lampshades are suspended at differ heights from the ceiling and the draped sheets of cotton and voile in complementary colours add colour and softness. Battery operated fairy lights in the shades would give even more variety and talking points.

Paper lampshades and draped sheets hanging from ceiling in childcare setting - Indoor Environments



Attention to Detail – 2nd August 2016
On a visit to Ballindereen Community Childcare Centre Co. Galway, Rita Melia, Early Childhood Ireland, was drawn to a clinking sound! How exciting to discover a child carefully putting the real life Delph plates and cups back into the kitchen cupboards in the home corner in the loft area. The kitchen presses also had pictures with labels to support the children to return items to when finished. This preschool child`s attention, care, value and respect for the beautiful plates, cups and glasses was delightful. Well done to the staff for modelling how to care for delicate objects and for trusting the children to do likewise. The use of real life objects adds to the aesthetic beauty of the rich environment, because children have a right to beautiful environments.

Child putting plates back on cabinet - Indoor Environments Child putting plates back into press - Indoor Environments

Kitchen in home corner of childcare centre - Indoor Environments



Small play space with a variety of materials – ‘Siolta & DES Inspections’ – 13th July 2016
During one of Early Childhood Irelands Aistear in Action Programmes, Kathleen Tuite watched as these two little boys added items such as kitchen roll tubes, stones, small off-cuts of wood to their construction play. They had a variety of small materials in this small space, real concrete bricks, stones of various sizes, wooden blocks, small off cuts of wood and small baskets to carry items from one place to the next. They were having great fun mixing materials to construct their castle. This was a small Montessori room in Carriage Briste in Wexford and it shows how the practitioner was enhancing the play possibilities for the children by creating another play space with a variety of materials within the room.

This play space is in line with Siolta Standard 6 Play, Component 6.5, as it provides the children with open-ended play items which leads the children to explore different properties in the environment. In terms of the Early Years Education Focused Inspections, ‘quality framework’ it shows that this area of the environment and resources within it can support children’s learning and development.




The world is not flat – 6th July 2016
One way to create a little extra space in your room is to go up! Recently, Máire Corbett from Early Childhood Ireland, visited Naoinra na nÓg, Shannonvale, in Limerick. In two of the rooms, the book area is upstairs over the shop. This means that two areas are created in the same floor space. It really makes the book area a cosy space, as it is literally above the hustle and bustle of a busy room. It can become a cosy, quiet oasis of calm, while the imagination actively flows in the space below, which can be An Siopa, as here or the home area, an office, or whatever line of enquiry the children are exploring and thinking about!

Upstairs Reading Area - Indoor Environments Reading Area Two Levels - Indoor Environments
  Indoor Reading Space - Indoor Environments  



Ideas for creating beautiful spaces in a Preschool Room – 31st May 2016
On a recent visit to Frenchpark & District Childcare, Roscommon, Fiona Kelleher, Early Childhood Ireland, took these photos of a beautiful home area designed for children. Just a little inspiration for reviewing or revamping your current playroom room layout. The pictures tell the story!!!!

Preschool Kitchen Playroom with dining table, cooker etc. - Indoor Environments Preschool Kitchen Playroom with dining table - Indoor Environments




Generating interest in book areas – 9th June 2016
We all know that it is vital to foster a love of books and stories in young children from their earliest days. This is a key building block for literacy and gives a lifelong skill and hobby. To do this it is important to make your book area inviting and cosy. On a Síolta QAP visit to Cairdeas Childcare, Ballyhass in Cork, Máire Corbett from Early Childhood Ireland noticed how the books in the reading area were attractively displayed and the cushions made a cosy space. Marie, the Practitioner in this room said that since she had made these small changes the use of the space has increased and children love spending time looking at the books and talking about them. Similarly on a visit to Scallywags Crèche in Lismore they came up with a novel way of displaying books…using a length of guttering. It is important to display books with the cover facing as this makes the book more inviting for children and gives them an idea about what the book or story is about.

Reading Area with cushions and books in childcare service - Indoor Environments Reading Area in childcare service - Indoor Environments




Lighting up any area of the playroom – 29th April 2016
While on a Siolta visit to Sugradh Creche, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, Kathleen Tuite from Early Childhood Ireland, noticed how Maria had introduced a portable light to the playroom. This little light is safe for all children to handle, no trailing wires or loose parts. It can be placed in the book area to add some mood lighting, or moved to any area of the room that the children want to use it in. Children can turn it off and on as often as they like. The portable light is rechargeable and Maria sourced it on-line, low cost. This little light adds a lovely ambience to any playroom and is safe, portable and easy to use.

Portable Light Switched Off - Indoor Environments Portable Light Switched On - Indoor Environments




Display to promote children’s group and self-identity – 16th March 2016

While carrying out a Síolta on-site visit to Busy Fingers Pre-school in Aughrim, Co. Wicklow, Kathleen from Early Childhood Ireland spoke with Patty (Manager) about her display idea. The display was positioned at child-height and it contained individual photos of the children and staff inserted into colourful muffin cases. The stems were made from green crepe paper and an orange Bowe at the bottom (also crepe paper) tied them together. The display uses the images of children and staff to show how important friendships are in this setting. It also promotes the children’s group and self-identity in their environment.

The children love seeing their image in the flower. On my visit I saw a number of children at different times just going up to have a look and smiling to themselves .

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