“An environment which speaks sees and reflects the child as an active and productive person. An environment which is silent seems void of life with no real sense of who plays there.” Loris Malaguzzi
When you think of your learning spaces think about how children learn. Children that are actively engaged are learning through play.
As we talked about our learning spaces as the third teacher the choices we make about our environment create a link directly to the play and learning in the classroom.
Now on to today’s order of business, improving learning spaces.
In order for us to improve on our learning spaces we first need to reflect on how children are using our learning spaces.
I’m almost embarrassed to let you see this picture but this was the starting point of my classroom transformation.
Identifying the problem
In the art studio we had minimal storage for art supplies, children had a hard time finding items that they wanted to use, so they would get discouraged and avoid the area all together. Also we had a lack of space for children to use material uninterrupted. So since art is such a valuable tool for children to anchor their learning through we knew that this area needed to be fixed pronto.
To created three different zones in our art studio that will allow children the opportunity to work with several art mediums all at the same time.
To rework furniture allowing for more storage in the area.
Here is what we did.
We placed a small rectangle table on the far wall of the studio and hung a shelf above that to hold clay tools and supplies.
Here two children can work together sculpting and creations with clay.
We placed a large rectangle table in the middle of the studio so that children could create with a wide range of art mediums at the same time. Allowing the children to work together and still have room to create.
We placed another small rectangle table next to sink and dry rack that is used for painting projects. Children are encouraged to prepare their own paint trays for painting. Once they have finished their painting project they wash up the paint tray and paint brushes themselves.
Across from the table is two sections of storage shelves that houses a large variety of art supplies. All supplies are accessible at all times for the children to create with.
Now embrace the space that you have and work toward creating a dynamic space that reflects the people that live and play in it. You can’t create your perfect classroom in a day or a week, but you can create a perfect learning space one learning space at a time.
Lets work together to create spaces that are worthy of miracles for our children.
If your new here, start here.
The materials that we provide in our learning environments are the meat and potatoes behind the curriculum and learning process.
Why is choosing materials important?
Materials reflect the values you want to communicate about learning. It communicates to children that we see them as capable and competent learners.
“Children constantly use materials to learn about the world, explore their questions, and represent their thinking.” Learning Together with Young Children
The materials we choose can draw children in, and want them to stay for a while to explore, investigate and learn something new in the process.
The materials we choose can turn children away from the learning process.
When you start to see the learning process differently, you will start to see the potential of the materials to inspire learning.
Take the time to reflect back onto your own childhood…
Now take those memories with you as you choose material to invite learning.
Gather a collection of materials that draw you in. Explore these materials with a colleague make a list of all the different opportunities you had in learning with these materials.
If your new here, start here.
Today we are going to talk about toys. Teachers are natural collectors, and after a few years your classroom can get filled with too much stuff.
Remember that young children can be overstimulated by all of the materials in the classroom, which can lead to some very frustrated and unhappy children. An unorganized classroom can also lead to laziness and lack of concern for the materials provided. Lastly and probably the most important is an unorganized classroom gives the impression to parents, community and administration that you might be a nice and well-loved teacher, but you are not a very professional one.
A well-organized classroom tells children and parents that you care. It sets the mood of those entering right from the start, and it tells people that you are a professional that cares about those living in the environment.
You are probably asking yourself right about now, where do I start?
De-cluttering is the first essential step to transform your learning environment to one that invites learning.
Step One- Grab three large plastic tubs. Label each one trash, recycling and donation. I like to place my tubs on a dolly (ask the janitor) this way I can move smoothly through my classroom as I de-clutter each area.
Step Two- Put on some fun and fabulous music. This will help you get in the grove and enjoy the process of de-cluttering.
Step Three- Dance around your classroom and discard any materials that are broken, have missing pieces or they just don’t get used. Now go to your storage area and do the same thing, but in your storage area I want you to get rid of anything that you have not used in the last year or two. If you have not used it in that long chances are you will never use it again, and it is just taking up valuable space.
Step Four- This is probably the most important step, and that is to remember that it is going to get worse before it gets better.
Step Five- Make an inventory list of everything that you are keeping. Keep this list with you so that when you are out and about and see storage containers on sale or you see all of those fabulous containers in the dollar section of target you can find the best containers for the job.
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I'm Tami Sanders creator of Learning and Teaching with Preschoolers, a blog to help teachers create magical moments for the young.