Read THE INDOOR LABORATORY of A Catalogue of Play Equipment , free online book, by Jean Lee Hunt, on

The floor should receive first consideration in planning the indoor laboratory. It should be as spacious as circumstances will permit and safe, that is to say clean and protected from draughts and dampness.

A well-kept hardwood floor is the best that can be provided. Individual light rugs or felt mats can be used for the younger children to sit on in cold weather if any doubt exists as to the adequacy of heating facilities.

Battleship linoleum makes a good substitute for a hardwood finish. It comes in solid colors and can be kept immaculate.

Deck canvas stretched over a layer of carpet felt and painted makes a warm covering, especially well adapted to the needs of very little children, as it has some of the softness of a carpet and yet can be scrubbed and mopped.

Second only in importance is the supply of lockers, shelves, boxes and drawers for the disposal of the great number and variety of small articles that make up the “tools and appliances” of the laboratory. The cut on page 24 shows a particularly successful arrangement for facilities of this kind.

The chairs shown are the Mosher kindergarten chairs, which come in three sizes. The light tables can be folded by the children and put away in the biggest cupboard space.

Block boxes are an essential part of the equipment. Their dimensions should be planned in relation to the unit block of the set used. Those shown are 13-3/4” X 16-1/2” X 44” (inside measurements) for use with a set having a unit 1-3/8” X 2-3/4” X 5-1/2”. They are on castors and can be rolled to any part of the room.

The low blackboards are 5’-5” in height and 2’-0” from the floor.

All the furnishings of the laboratory should lend themselves to use as dramatic properties when occasion demands, and a few may be kept for such purposes alone. The light screens in the right-hand corner of the room are properties of this kind and are put to an endless number of uses.

The balcony is a device to increase floor space that has been used successfully in The Play School for several years. It is very popular with the children and contributes effectively to many play schemes. The tall block construction representing an elevator shaft shown in the picture opposite would never have reached its “Singer Tower proportions” without the balcony, first to suggest the project and then to aid in its execution.

Drop shelves like those along the wall of the “gallery” can be used for some purposes instead of tables when space is limited.

Materials for storekeeping play fill the shelves next the fireplace, and the big crock on the hearth contains modelling clay, the raw material of such objets d’art as may be seen decorating the mantlepiece in the cut.


The indoor Sand Box pictured here was designed by Mrs. Hutchinson for use in the nursery at Stony Ford. A box of this kind is ideal for the enclosed porch or terrace and a great resource in rainy weather.

The usual kindergarten sand table cannot provide the same play opportunity that is afforded by a floor box, but it presents fewer problems to the housekeeper and is always a valuable adjunct to indoor equipment.


The carpenter equipment must be a “sure-enough business affair,” and the tools real tools not toys.

The Sheldon bench shown here is a real bench in every particular except size. The tool list is as follows:

Manual training hamme point cross-cut sa point rip saw. Large screw driver, wooden handle. Small screw driver. Nail puller. Stanley smooth-plane, N. Bench hook. Brace and set of twist bits. Manual training rule. Steel rule. Tri square. Utility box with assorted nails, screws, etc. Combination India oil stone. Oil can. Small hatchet.

Choice of lumber must be determined partly by the viewpoint of the adult concerned, largely by the laboratory budget, and finally by the supply locally available. Excellent results have sometimes been achieved where only boxes from the grocery and left-over pieces from the carpenter shop have been provided. Such rough lumber affords good experience in manipulation, and its use may help to establish habits of adapting materials as we find them to the purposes we have in hand. This is the natural attack of childhood, and it should be fostered, for children can lose it and come to feel that specially prepared materials are essential, and a consequent limitation to ingenuity and initiative can thus be established.

On the other hand, some projects and certain stages of experience are best served by a supply of good regulation stock. Boards of soft pine, white wood, bass wood, or cypress in thicknesses of 1/4”, 3/8”, 1/2” and 7/8” are especially well adapted for children’s work, and “stock strips” 1/4” and 1/2” thick and 2” and 3” wide lend themselves to many purposes.