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Hi! I'm Nicole. I am a wife, mom of two boys, and early childhood education expert. Through my platform I teach parents and caregivers how to engage in play based learning while maintaining an organized home. I share tips and tricks, DIYs, product recommendations, and every day hacks to make parenting easier. Over the years, I have grown an organic and engaged audience of 50,000+ parents, teachers, and caregivers. I am know for my ability to tell cohesive stories through short video, meaningfully engage with diverse communities, and inform through sharing simple and practical play and organization ideas. I look forward to connecting.
Mother’s Day 2022 🌺 Thankful that God entrusted me with these two. Thankful to my amazing mother for her kindness and selflessness. Thankful to all of the mothers I’ve connected with along this journey. Sending love and light to anyone who needs it today. Happy Mother’s Day! #mothersday2022 #dcmoms #dmvmoms #earlylearning #earlyyearseducation
Little Known Animal Facts 🐅 My kids both LOVE animals. J especially loves learning about new animals, their habitats, and what they eat. #sponsored This Animals Wild subscription box by @LittlePassports was perfect for exploring animal habitats through playsets, custom-made games, activities, and fun facts. Want to know his favorite one? A hippo’s teeth can grow to be 20 feet long! This led to a hilarious discussion about whether we know any people with “long teeth.” This fun fact and tons of others are included in this interactive new subscription box. Every kit includes a pop-up playset filled with hidden surprises, interactive pop-out animals, a lively, hands-on game with assembly and play instructions, and fun, fact-filled activities printed right on the playset Check out another one of our favorite activities in my stories. Any other neighborhood animal experts out there? What’s your favorite little known animal fact? #LittlePassports #LittlePassportsPartner #Animals #AnimalsWild #playroominspo #playroomgoals #playroomorganization
Decision Day 2022 💙💛 The HBCU legacy continues. Insta, please help me celebrate my OG. My nephew Kavari, North Carolina A&T class of 2026 ☺️ Take good care of my boy, Aggies 💙💛 Swipe for a throwback 😢 📸: @terriejohnsonphotography 👕: @blackandscholared #decisionday #decisionday2020 #ncat26 #hbculove #hbcupride #collegedecisionday #aggiepride💙💛
Eight. This little family of ours was born on this day eight years ago. 4/13/14. My late father’s birthday. We’ve had a lot of laughs, shed a few tears, but it’s always US. Happy anniversary Will. Like you always say, “We got a good life kid.” And Happy Birthday daddy. See you when I get there, friend. #dcmoms #dmvmoms #polishedplayhouse #munaluchibride #aftertheaisle
Friday Intro ✨ Hey! I’ve had lots of new followers recently and realized I haven’t done an intro in a long time. I’m Nicole. Native Michigander turned Marylander. I was a second generation teacher and have worked in education for the past 15 years at the classroom, non-profit, and now district level. I was inspired to start this account when we lived in a 1,000 square foot row house in Washington, DC and I was looking for ways to store all the “stuff.” Here you’ll find inspiration for child friendly, organized play spaces. Many of the principles I share come from my background and training in evaluating early learning programs and environments. I’m completely outnumbered with a husband and two boys. It gets loud AND messy. It’s not about perfection but creating systems to make it manageable. That’s always my goal. I’m happy you’re here! Swipe for a Friday flashback of me helping to set up my mom’s classroom 🥰 #teachermom #teachermomlife #dcmoms #dmvmomtribe #dmvmom #earlylearning #playroominspo #playroomgoals #playroomorganization #playroomdesign
A Season of Change 🌻☀️🌿 Spring is finally here and so are the changes! Not just the warmer weather, but also big changes for the little ones we love. A D: Shiloh (1.5) has started to express his feelings openly and show interest in how things work together. We recently updated a few items on his play shelf featuring a few new items from @LearningResources. The beauty of Learning Resources materials is that they grow with your child and reinforce critical early learning skills like: fine motor development, color recognition, matching, number sense, and so much more. Here are a few of our new additions: “Peekaboo Learning Farm”: Here are a few ideas based on the age of your child: ✨One-to-one correspondence activity. Have your child place one animal in each of the barns. ✨Color matching. Start with one or two of the barns and ask your child to match the tops and bottoms by color. ✨Place the barns in order numerically from 1 - 5. “Learn A Lot Avocados”: Here are a few ideas based on the age of your child: ✨Fine motor practice. Place the avocados in front of you on a tray and ask your child to open and close each avocado. ✨ Social Emotional language development. Each avocado has a different expression. Perfect for describing new feelings and emotions. The “pit” of each avocado also rotates to reveal a different emotion. New Sprouts Picnic Set: It’s no secret that we love pretend play in our play kitchen. The boys have ample opportunity to prepare real food in our family kitchen AND have gained so much from setting up a pretend restaurant, cafe, and now picnic area. Shy was a big fan of the ketchup! I’ve added direct links to all of these items and a few more favorites in my Amazon storefront under “Learning Resources Favorites.” Let me know in the comments what new skills your children are working on. I’d be happy to share a few more product recommendations. #WhatSpringBrings #toddlerplay #toddlerplayideas #finemotorskills #BuildingSomeoneAmazing #toddlerplaytime #LearningResourcesPartner
Playroom Audit! This week I got to chat with Ebony from @themillennialmamma about a few challenges in her shared family play space. Here’s what they were: ✨ Too many toys leading to overwhelm for her 4 year old. ✨A toy chest that has become a black hole and is filled to the brim. Here are a few things Ebony is going to do: ✨Declutter! Remove some of the options for games/puzzles and rotate them through as they are mastered. ✨Swap out the toy chest for a shelf that can serve multiple purposes. Her 4 year old loves drawing and coloring but she also has a 4 month old. A low shelf can hold a few toys for the baby once they are mobile but the top can also serve as a drawing surface for her 4 year old. ✨ Create zones that are anchored by the most popular items. The family tv stand will serve as a storage space for games, toys, and puzzles and the lower shelf will support the art interest. A few art materials will be kept out of reach for the baby but easily accessible to her 4 year old. Check out this video for more ideas on how you can update your play space. We’ll have Ebony back in a few weeks to see how everything turns out! #polishedplayhouse #playroomaudit #playroomgoals #playroominspo #playroomdecor #getorganized #organizedhome
Spring Refresh 🌼 As the weather warms up, I want to share a few ways to easily refresh your play space for Spring: 🌼 Declutter. Remove broken toys, items with missing pieces, and toys that have been outgrown. 🌼 Add bright artwork. This can be framed, digital downloads, wallpaper, or pieces created by your children. 🌼 Add greenery. We love having plants in our play space. Spring is a great time to start a few seeds indoors or update existing plant pots with bright paint or patterns. 🌼 Prepare for rainy days. Update sizes in rain gear for outdoor play and set aside a few special games or activities that can be used on days when you stay indoors. 🌼 Add a few new books. In addition to spring themed children’s books, gardening magazines and books are a great way to an authentic texts to a play space. Tomorrow at 12:00pm I’ll be on IG Live and sharing more ways to quickly refresh your space 🌸🪴🌼 Tap for sources. Links on Amazon or LTK. #polishedplayhouse #playroomdecor #organizedhome #thecontainerstore #ikeakids #playroomgoals #playroomdesign #playbasedlearning #openendedtoys
Today on IG Live I shared three common mistakes I see when setting up a play space: 1. Trying to make one space too many different things. There can be pressure to create this “ultimate” play space with all the things. Even with the best of systems this can become overwhelming. I suggest a central place for the most played with/loved materials and then seamlessly incorporating some items throughout other parts of your home. This does NOT mean the toys take over your home. It could be as simple as moving puzzles/games to a family room ottoman or placing a small art caddy near your kitchen. 2. Not considering HOW your children play when setting up the play space. Children know how to play but not all children play the same way. My son J is very big on creating but he prefers creating on the floor. A large table doesn’t make sense for us. Instead we use rolled paper, clip boards, and activity tables to allow him to create in the way he likes best. Select furniture pieces that align with how your children play. 3. Prioritizing aesthetics over function. This account is called the Polished Playhouse for a reason. I like things to look good, but they have to be functional. Functional for a child means accessible. This looks like low profile furniture, bins you can see inside, things that are easy to clean, and spaces that can be easily modified based on a child’s interest or developmental stage. Take a look at the video for more in-depth examples and let me know if you’ve made any of these mistakes before. I talk about how I’ve done all three and how I corrected my mistakes. If this was helpful share with a friend AND stay tuned because soon I’ll be going live with some of my followers to talk through a few real-life play space design dilemmas 🥰 #playspace #playroomgoals #playroominspo #playroominspiration #playroomdecor #playroomideas #organizedwithkids #getorganized #organizedhome
Today during my IGTV live I talked about getting started with creating a play space. I included tips for if you have a dedicated playroom or not. Here are the tips: ✨Observe. You want to look for: 1. How your children play. 2. How your family lives. If your children are really in to gross motor play, allow for more floor space. If they really enjoy creating, you may want to leave space for a table, tray, or lap desk based on the space you have. Consider where your family “lives” in your home. We mostly live on our main area. Our basement playroom didn’t make sense and started to feel like a destination. Decide which space works best for your family. ✨Declutter. This one is huge. You can’t organize clutter. Remove pieces that are broken, missing, or that your children are simply not interested in. Once you’ve decided on what to keep, anchor the play space with 1-2 items that your children naturally gravitate towards. ✨ Organize. Choose organization tools that work best for the items that remain after you declutter. Make sure the items are functional and work for your space. I shared some of my favorites in the video. ✨Put it all together. Center the play space around the anchor pieces and always remember “how” your children play. Ground the space with plants, rugs, and artwork. Be sure to incorporate practical life items like a mini broom, vacuum, and watering can to help children have ownership over their space. And so much more! Take a look and let me know if you have additional questions in the comments. #playroominspo #getorganized #playroomorganization
Happy Sunday everyone! Today I did a quick tour of our new play space. I talked about what we have here and why I made the decision to move the playroom. I’ll be going live every Sunday for the next few weeks and want to hear from you which topics would be helpful. Let me know in the comments 👇🏾
The Year We Learned To Fly ✨ “Lift your arms, my grandmother said, close your eyes, and remember somebody somewhere at some point had to figure out if they could fly.”#PenguinKidsPartner The last two years have been tough for our little ones. Changes in routines, schedules, and limited social interaction has meant tapping into their imaginations like never before. As a parent, I’ve had to remind my children (and myself) that we can use the power inside of ourselves to do hard things. “The Year We Learned to Fly” written by @jacqueline_woodson and beautifully illustrated by @rafaellopezillustration tells the story of a brother and sister who use their vivid imaginations to lift themselves out of boredom. The siblings are encouraged by their grandmother’s words of wisdom, as she tells stories of their ancestors: stories of resilience and hope in the face of adversity, and stories of their beauty and brilliance and an unwavering will to win. Through vivid storytelling and beautiful imagery, this book encourages young and old readers alike to lift themselves up and fly. What words of wisdom have you shared with your children this year? Let me know in the comments. Your words just may encourage another parent who needs it. “The Year We Learned to Fly” is available now from @penguinkids and recommended for readers ages 5 - 8. Be sure to also check out “The Day You Begin,” the bestselling companion piece also written by @jacqueline_woodson and illustrated by @rafaellopezillustration. #TheYearWeLearnedToFly #kidbookstagram #diversechildrensbooks #raiseareader #childrensbookstagram
Merry Christmas 🎄 We’ve been taking a much needed break but wanted to wish all who celebrate a Merry Christmas! Wishing you much joy, love, and peace this season and into the new year. Thank you for being a part of this community❤️ “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6 ✨ #dcmoms #dmvmomtribe #christmasfamilyphoto #polishedplayhouse
Many Are the Plans ✨ This season can be busy. And stressful. And filled with all the things. This is your friendly Friday reminder to let some of it go. I recently put a poll in my stories asking if you all were finished gift shopping. The majority of people are not and some of you let me know you felt relieved to know you weren’t the only one. We are not going to “visit” Santa. I looked at the times. They were mostly booked. I’d have to rework a bunch of things to make it work. I didn’t feel like it. I moved on. The end. What are you letting go of this season? Let me know in the comments. If you see something that resonates hit the heart and let a mama know she’s not alone ❤️ Swipe to see how Shy busted up my plan for a cute holiday photo with both boys 😩 #polishedplayhouse #dcmoms #dcmom #dmvmomtribe #dmvmoms #munamommy #aftertheaisle #frobabies
Christmas Room Tour 🎄 We recently added some holiday decor to J’s room. A few picks to his letters, pillows, Santa, and a mini tree made a big impact. I love walking past this room and seeing all the magic. Swipe to the end to see all of the ornaments on his tree. A mix of old and new. The little beekeeper is my favorite 🥰🐝 #polishedplayhouse #kidsroominspiration #targetchristmas #kidsroominspo #targetdoesitagain #targetlittles #christmashomedecor #targetbullseye #bullseyeplayground #christmashome #projectjunior #rugsusa