Bedroom decor for a scientifically inclined six year-old
July 12, 2015 9:27 PM   Subscribe

DirtyOldTown and I have a pretty great six year-old boy child who is spending the week at his grandma's house and during that time, we're moving him into a larger bedroom. His last room was Lego-themed, but we want to give him a room that's a little broader and a little less merchandising specific this time around. Really, we are less about a theme and more about filling the room with cool stuff he would like, so that when he comes home and sees it, he'll be drawn to it and start enjoying some independent time. (He never enjoyed hanging out in his tiny bedroom he was in before). Looking for fun (and not overly expensive) ideas for knick knacks, doo dads, wall art, etc. to make an inquisitive junior scientist excited about his new lair.

These days, he's less and less about toys, and more and more about science experiments or crafts. He's very proud of his periodic table, for instance. He also makes a bunch of things with origami. He enjoys circuit board kits. So, okay, table of elements on the wall, craft table. But after that, we start running out of ideas quick. I am considering painting scientifically accurate clouds in various formations on his new sky blue walls. We have a Galileo's thermometer we can put in there. But after that, uh... no idea. I mean, we have a kid who doesn't go in for standard toys, but he's still six and he still plays, so we can't just make it a laboratory. It needs to be fun.
posted by Comrade Doll to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Oooh, ooh please please do think about assembling a giant pegboard wall with space for collections and things! I would have killed a sibling happily for a huge re-arrangeable wall with shelves and boxes and hooks where I could put my collections of rocks and books and weird things I found up, and you could run a long bench under it as a working "lab table".

I put all my kid's toys in storage and gave her two rotating boxes that she refills every week or so, and her play area is much more open space and easy to tidy up for the next play time, and she gets all excited about a toy she hasn't seen for a month. It's less stressful than having everything on display.

I also had for a while (and need to bring back, I loved this thing) a nature basket which was a blog idea - you have a beautiful bowl or basket on a coffeetable and put things you find on walks there, interesting sticks, beetle shells, rocks etc., emptying out or using up the older items as you go.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 9:35 PM on July 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

Consider doing a wall (or even just the lower half of a wall) in chalkboard or whiteboard paint. Great place to draw pictures, write down ideas, do math problems, etc.

I made a scale model of the solar system in 3rd grade and the planets happily lived staged around my room for years. I would have put glow in the dark star constellations on my ceiling but we had those horrible popcorn texture ceilings so I had to settle for just sticking them on my ceiling fan instead. If you go with the cloud theme for painting in the room, I actually think it may be required by law to put glow in the dark stars on the ceiling.
posted by phunniemee at 9:43 PM on July 12, 2015 [4 favorites]

You want LOTS of glow in the dark stars.
posted by stellathon at 9:57 PM on July 12, 2015 [6 favorites]

Make a rocket lamp.
Find a plasma ball.

Seconding the idea for a nature basket. Also, grow a Venus flytrap and/or other carnivorous plant(s).


The whole room doesn't have to be a lab, but include a science table/bookcase/shelf with a magnifying glass, flashlight, compass, prisms, (lots of) magnets, stones, minerals, fossils ...

For the bookshelf and add a globe.
posted by faineant at 11:27 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Speaking of clouds, here are instructions for a DIY cloud night light.

My first idea was a new quilt, but boy are they expensive. So maybe a solid color quilt with a few themed pillows.

Depending on the type of closet he has, you could replace his closet doors with a Periodic Table shower curtain, leaving more wall space for other posters.

Does he like space? How about wall decals, a lightswitch cover, a poster, a different poster, a fun rug, or a clothes hamper. Or if he likes rockets, here's a wall decal and a throw pillow.

Does he like dinosaurs or sharks? You could probably find similar posters for other animals too.
posted by rakaidan at 11:33 PM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

Would your budget allow for a star projector?
posted by Vervain at 12:10 AM on July 13, 2015

I get a lot of mileage out of a thing I call the "homeschooling cupboard," which is a cheap kitchen pantry thing stuffed with science kits, collections of interesting non-fiction books, craft project stuff, workbooks, whatever weird stuff I crammed in and forgot, etc.

"Go check the cupboard" is a good answer to "I'm bored." 95% of what's in there was obtained cheap at thrift stores.
posted by kmennie at 1:06 AM on July 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Give him a work bench that he is allowed to scuff and scratch and stain and get glue on and put holes in. If you aren't happy with him messing up the surface, buy a piece of sturdy replaceable material you can cut to size and put over the nice surface. Add a C-clamp or two for holding stuff in place. A light on a flexible arm so he can focus it on what he's doing. Two seats at his level, so he can work alone or with you. Add a suitable protective floor covering under it and the space his chair occupy. Make sure there are electrical outlets.

Even if you think he's not ready for this stuff yet, make it the kind of place where a person theoretically could use a hammer, hand saw, drill, X-acto knife, glue, paint, soldering iron, etc., and you wouldn't freak out about the furniture. Imagine him eventually (by himself or with you) building plastic models (paint, glue, clamps, light), repainting all of his Matchbox cars, putting together a robot kit (paint, maybe soldering), building and painting a kite, building (never painting) a bird house (saw, hammer, drill), replacing a dead hard drive (box to store little parts, little screwdriver, good lighting), and so on. Some of this might be better done outside or in a garage, but it could be nice to have a warm place right in his room where you could keep an eye on him and work with him.
posted by pracowity at 1:28 AM on July 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Consider doing a wall (or even just the lower half of a wall) in chalkboard or whiteboard paint.

You can DIY a 4x8' piece of the wall with what is basically a white board for about $40. I made one and it's terrific. If you're fancy you could make it on rolling wheels with a three panel fold-out so that you could have a room divider and a place for your kid to write stuff down. But just a nice big white board and a huge variety of markers is a great thing to play with.
posted by jessamyn at 6:18 AM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

If he like circuits, you need to make a wall or area with different circuit paths painted with conductible ink, have some electric leads or batteries he can pin at one end of a circuit, or leads he can use to cross from one party to another, and some LEDs he can pin to the other, of your lines aren't too long the LEDs should run of watch batteries.
posted by dstopps at 6:25 AM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Get work mats to protect the floor under his craft table so that he can have accidents without ruining the resale value of the house.

Go to and shop for everything else.
posted by myselfasme at 6:55 AM on July 13, 2015

A giant wall sticker?
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:14 AM on July 13, 2015

Does it have a window? Get a radiometer.
posted by box at 7:21 AM on July 13, 2015

Get an unfinished wood table from Ikea or something, and let HIM paint it however he wants. Better yet, leave a wall for him to paint a huge mural on. My super cool mum let me do this to her CAR (it was pretty old and doomed for scrap) but my brother and I still have fond memories of that to this day.
posted by shazzam! at 7:28 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Is he a precise "collector" 6 year old, or a "let's blow things up" 6 year old?

For a collector, a kiddie microscope seems pretty awesome, and you can build a table/desk area around that. Not exactly decorations, but pretty much screams science (and then you're SET for making slides out of random things, dishes of pond water, etc.). If there's a useful window, kiddie telescopes can also set the scene (and then you can put up star maps, have him design his OWN constellations out of glow stars, etc.)

For "lets blow things up" - bigger more durable plastic beakers, dishes, etc, squeeze bottles, and a waterproof space. Maybe a "test zone" like mythbusters - caution tape, tarps on the floors whiteboard on the wall that he can draw on or that things can splatter on, etc. (Also, chux are your friends. Nearly every wet lab I've worked in relies on them, and they really do make your life great.)

For either, a piece of furniture that lets him organize his stuff - maybe even repurposed from Lego stuff. Lots of spacers/bins,etc that he can label himself. Science is all about making things from various shelves/boxes/bins of equipment!

And absolutely mandatory - a big "Warning: Experiments in Progress" or "Experimental Test Zone" or biohazard (or radiation) sign either for the door or for the walls.
posted by synapse at 7:34 AM on July 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Seconding the glow in the dark stars - if possible, find the little sticker ones and go nuts on the ceiling. I did this at some point in middle school and still find it delightful when I visit my parents and sleep in my childhood bedroom. (I'm 34 now.)
posted by maryr at 9:05 AM on July 13, 2015

Our kids room is nature/science. It just kind of happened. There are the most terrific nature posters. Choose his favorite animal, mineral or plant and Google. There are great vintage ones as well as new. There are also great astonomy posters, fun maps, and interesting g microscopic stuff. We have a printers box filled with found items - shells, feathers, rocks, snake skins,etc. We have a globe, microscope, a bag of gallium, field guides, a molecule set, antlers, bones, fossils on his science table.
posted by beccaj at 9:37 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Edmund Scientifics has many suitable things.

The Bone Room has wonderful natural history things. Most of the stuff is going to be much too expensive, but if you look around they do have some budget items.
posted by Cinnamon Bear at 9:49 AM on July 13, 2015

Megan Lee's Etsy shop has some nice stuff.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 12:50 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

My brother had a giant photographic periodic table poster (along the lines of this one) in his room and I spent hours staring at it. (Guess which one of us is a biogeochemist? Not the one with the giant periodic table in his room.)
posted by hydropsyche at 5:29 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

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