FIVE Items to Build a Shelfie

Now that we have established what a shelfie is and the basics of one, let’s dive into how to build one. I have curated a list of five basic items that will help you build your perfect shelfie.

Shelfie [noun]: A shelf selfie

Putting together a shelfie can feel a bit overwhelming in the beginning but if you follow a basic outline, you’ll find variations of your shelves can happen easily. Over time, shelf rotations move quickly; sometimes a shelf rotation gets a bit messy in our playroom but I usually rotate with two small children playing at the same time. This always makes me think of the saying “Cleaning with children is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos” and I can not help but laugh at it either. The kids both gravitate to the shelves when we first go into our playroom and remain the main attraction. With a system in place, shelf rotations can be a quick, easy change and you might be surprised at how much fun they are.

Below is a curated list of items to build your perfect shelfie:

  1. Wooden animals or figures
  2. Scenery
  3. Books
  4. Rainbows
  5. Baskets

Wooden Animals are a rabbit hole I never expected to dive into but I adore them and so do both children. Our favorite brand is Holztiger; the texture and detail on each animal makes each one unique. Holztiger animals we have also found to be very durable, Ethan is a very rough 16 month old. The animals in our playroom are consistently the main event of play and they even have a tendency to take over the dollhouse. My four year old insists every animal needs a mom and baby.

Scenery helps to bring each environment to life. When I first began purchasing animals I thought, ” Why do I need trees? I can buy X animals for that.” Fast forward to now and I am searching high and low for certain trees. The trees help to establish different habitats, seasons, and add height to a shelf. Having a giraffe munching on a tree just invites a child to explore in my opinion. Scenery can be challenging to find, Ostheimer makes great pieces and we recently found Avdar. ( We purchased our Avdar from Maple + Lark) We have been happy with both brands. As for trees, I am quite fond of our Papoose trees, they are durable and my youngest’s favorite. He enjoys pretending our Papoose trees are hairbrushes. (Papoose can be purchased from Happy Monkey and you can use the discount code Lauren10 for $10 off of $50)

I love a beautifully illustrated story, especially when there are great educational facts included or self-esteem building stories. Incorporating a book into our shelf or play, often referred to as “bookish play” has been great for engaging my four year old in reading. For the longest time it was a challenge to slow her down long enough to read, now she enjoys playing and reciting bits from books we read or recreating builds from illustrations in the books. A book on the shelf also helps to highlight that book instead of getting lost in a sea of books; for this reason I also have a couple small shelves I rotate books on weekly.

Our Rainbows are so well loved both for play and because they are aesthetically pleasing. I struggle to build a shelfie without rainbows because they are beautiful and I love the bright pop of color they bring to the shelf. The rainbows also help break the shelf up a bit and make them not feel as busy. For children, often less is more in my opinion.

Lastly, baskets. I LOVE good baskets on my shelfies. In our playroom I have two shelves, one which is mostly small world play and the other are various open ended toys and a few montessori inspired activities. A couple examples of how I utilizes baskets on the shelves are:

  • To store pieces to a puzzle
  • To create a treasure basket to explore
  • To store loose parts

Below is an example of the items I have listed and then the shelfie I was able to create with them.

Happy shelfie building!

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