So, to facilitate all of this, I decided to enclose the child-chosen area with a curtain. I checked out fabric, but the sewing machine was at the farm and fabric was EXPENSIVE, so I purchased a $5 flat sheet from WalMart, along with a tension rod that just fit the space when at the smallest setting. I simply snipped the length and tore it on the grain of the fabric. Then did the same down the middle.
I carefully sliced through the back edge ONLY of the top seam to run the rod through.
By placing the finished edges together in the middle, it gives it a finished look without being finished. It just doesn't need to be. Someday, when I have the sewing machine back over here, I'll hem everything up. If it looks like anything is coming undone more than I want it to, I can use fabric glue for the time being to stop fraying, or even hem it with the glue or iron-on fusible web. But so far, after a couple weeks of rough play, it's been just fine. The rest of the sheet I will be using for another project in the preschool room. This took me 5 minutes to put together.
By splitting it in the middle, I can pull the sides apart to scoot under without entangling myself, and it allows the children to easily move in and out without pulling it down constantly. However, because it will come down, it also teaches them to be more careful with their activity, in what is supposed to be a quiet zone. I added a few of our spare throw pillows onto the bottom for comfort and wash-ability. These are easily recovered or washed in the machine, which was important.
I have dollar store tap lights and glow in the dark stars to put up, but with the younger two, they would be quickly stripped off. So those will have to wait for a similar area in the preschool room.
The reason I got a tension rod that was longer than needed for the desk fort space, was that I also have wanted a puppet theater. I really want a really CUTE, stand-alone, wooden puppet theater, with storage for our multitude of puppets and props, but we currently don't have the space. That's on the grand plan for later. Much later. So, the main doorway between the foyer area and the toddler room is about six inches wider than the space under my desk. With a few seconds of twisting on the end, the ensemble becomes a perfect minimalistic puppet theater.
One of the best things I hadn't anticipated needing, is that it is completely ADJUSTABLE, so for the older children I can raise it up, and for the younger ones I can lower it down while they put on their dramatic masterpieces. This has been a key element in facilitating their puppet play.
Tags: puppet, theater, fort, playhouse, tent, quiet area, reading nook, preschool, daycare, childcare, pre-k, prek, homeschool