My children have an area for them in every room of the house. I believe I read about this in the book Montessori Play And Learn: A Parent's Guide to Purposeful Play from Two to Six by Leslie Britton. Many times my children like to be in the area of the house where I am. Having the children's items in each room allows for them to work and allows me to get ready in the morning, work in my office, cook and clean. My children help with many activities like cleaning and cooking but sometimes that is just not what they want to do at that moment therefore I provide other things for them to do. Items on these shelves, just like items in their play room change often. Just moving something from one room to another gets the children's interest back on the item.
Here is a picture of what I have in the living room for the kids. There are games, puzzles and two books. These items just got switched out and most of it came from Christmas presents. The items in the living room are items that we do as a family(twister and table games) and some things they can do on their own(like puzzles and games).
Here is a picture of what the kids have in my office/craft room. Currently I have crayons, paper, scissors, glue, craft ideas that my 5 year old can do on his own or with little help, puzzles, and games. Their items share space with some of my books and files.
Here is a picture with items in the dinning room. It does not show another shelf I have with paints, markers, paper, Play-Doh and some other craft items. I currently have two shelves in the dinning room. This room is next to the kitchen so if I am in the kitchen it is easy for me to go back and forth between the dinning room and living room to help with activities.
I also have a shelf with toys in the Master Bedroom. The Master Bedroom is across the office so some of the office items come into the Master Bedroom and vice versa. When my children where babies I also had a basket with items in my Master Bathroom, and a low cabinet in the kitchen with plastic bowls, tops, spoons, etc...
If you have kids that can read it would be great to have a basket of books in every room, specially in the rooms where you spend a lot of time in the morning (kitchen/bedroom/bathroom) so that as you are getting ready in the morning they are reading!
N From The Learning Ark told me she has encyclopedias in her kitchen, so Little N reads them in the morning when she is spending time in the kitchen. What a great idea!