Jonathan Kirby

Jonathan Kirby

Muncie, IN, US


Muncie Children's Museum Tot Spot

During a five week workshop, a team of five students, including myself, designed and constructed a portion of the Tot Spot area for the Muncie Children’s Museum. In need of a constructive play area, the team decided to draw inspiration from the East Central Indiana region to provide a farm stand with an adjacent garden plot.


Over the course of the workshop, the team continuously presented material to the client and was required to construct full-scale mock-ups to gain insight into how the design would be approached by toddlers. To streamline the process, each member of the group obtained a title and a focus area for the project.

Kelly Goffiney: Photographer
Ben Greenberg: Communicator
Paul Reynolds: Digital Modeler
Brian Watson: Foreman

With the most construction experience of the group, I was nominated as the materials expert for the design and construction of the Funcie Farm Stand. In addition to selecting appropriate materials for the build, I focus on the construction details to ensure user safety.

Funcie Farm Stand, the constructive play area for the Tot Spot installation, consisted of three distinct areas. These three areas incorporated physical, behavioral, social and cognitive development opportunities for toddlers.

The main building provided space for toddlers to engage in role play with a farm stand full of vegetables and fruits. In addition, the main building also incorporated a component for motor skill development. A manipulable wall with three sliding components was constructed on the back wall of the building.  The components were organized vertically in order to allow users of different heights to easily access the panels. In addition, the slats on the doors were stained in a specific pattern to allow the toddlers to match the colors vertically.


The garden plot adjacent to the farm stand provides opportunities for all types of development. After laminating two pieces of rigid insulation, the undulating pattern and overall shape was milled using a CNC router. Holes of varying diameters were then located on the crests of the pattern to house the bases for the interchangeable components. A group of components was created for each season and each season contained three different pieces, each color and size-coded for correct placement in the garden. These components, along with mirrors in the shape of flowers and butterflies, were cut using a laser cutter to ensure precise fitting. The mirror objects were later placed on the picket fence located behind the garden plot.

The final area in the Funcie Farm Stand constructive play area was the construction corner. The construction corner provided a work bench with several purchased toys. This area was strategically placed on the side of the stand in order to reduce the possibility of blocking the flow of movement throughout the Tot Spot installation. 


Finally, in order to provide a distinct boundary to the constructive play area, the carpet tiles were cut in a pattern that mimicked the free-flowing nature of the garden plot. The change in color scheme allows the pattern to continue across the entire floor while establishing the necessary boundary.

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Status: Built
Location: Muncie, IN, US