Environment as the Third Teacher

Did you see that early childhood environments made the New York Times (blogs)? The article sites research suggesting that commercially-purchased, busy bulletin boards and wall coverings are a waste of money for teachers. I think most of us know this, but it’s so hard to prioritize de-cluttering (visually, at least) our environments when so many resources are purchased by school districts or other people in our school systems with whom we may not be in regular contact. Here is another great article from NAEYC on setting up your environment, if you’re interested.

I’d love to share some end-of-the-year photos of our space, which I have tried to calm even since the beginning of the year set up, if you’d like to see. Can you see a difference? We at least replaced that huge, busy carpet with a plush navy one.

block center via provocations & play

We’ve been exploring ramps in our blocks center, and a DC high school’s carpentry program built us that amazing building platform.

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Ramp building in action.

hardware store via provocations & play

We went to the amazing hardware store down the street and created a hardware store, complete with tools, paint mixing and a key-making machine.

woodworking via provocations & play

Our hardware store visit sparked an interest in woodworking, something I’ve always wanted to try with my kids. We have a woodworking table in our science center. Those are kid-safe, low-temp glue guns, and I also bought a hand drill via Montessori Services. First we made “bird houses” for our community gardens, and then we started to design our own roller coasters after a few children visited Six Flags. Both Teacher Tom and NAEYC have some great articles about woodworking with young children, if you’re interested.

hair salon via provocations & play IMG_2228

Our dramatic play center, on the other side of blocks, is currently a hair salon, which has been a blast. It’s a favorite every year, but the kids didn’t even bring it up until last week (next week is our last week of school for the year). I’m glad they did :)

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Of course our art area has easels, a table to create with clay and a corner to explore light and shadow with an overhead projector and light table.

calm down space via provocations & play

Finally, our calm down center, or safe space, for children who need a break, want to be alone, or for some story telling :)

storytelling via provocations & play

 

 

 

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classroom reorg

I am lucky enough to co-teach with the two most amazing women, ever. Not only are they warm, nurturing, smart and wonderful with young children, they are completely flexible with my ever-changing whims. Last Saturday, I went to an incredibly-thought-provoking training by Julianne Wurm, and left with a million ideas to reorganize my classroom (thanks, Julianne!). Would you like to see the current set up?

classroom tour | via provocations & play

As soon as you walk into the classroom, the quiet/calm area is on your right. The students’ journals (we add documentation weekly and they take them home on Fridays) are in there, as well as a privacy cube. A 4-year-old put that red tape on the floor because it used to be the blocks center, and she wrote “b carfl” on it after a 3-year-old haphazardly stumbled into her tower. I haven’t had the heart to move it yet ;)

nursery area | via provocations & play

We’re currently exploring hospitals, and this is our nursery. Typically, when the children are there, the blue table is filled with water and bubble bath. Also, I just added our baby photos, which is awesome!

dentist play | via provocations & playWelcome to our dentist’s office (on the other side of the nursery).

blocks area | via provocations & playHere is our blocks area (please forgive the awful, permanent media area in the corner… anyone have ideas how to better camouflage it?). I love the blocks area in this corner, though. It used to be in front of the door which was chaotic when entering or exiting, and meant projects didn’t last over any amount of time. I’m trying to commission somebody to build us a building platform to help with longevity :) The dollhouse is there because we are experimenting with building handicapped-accessible ramps for our hospital (i.e. the dollhouse).

ambulance | via provocations & play

And, not really part of our set-up, but definitely a part of our room, our (almost!) finished ambulance we have been working on, as part of our hospital project.

Thanks for visiting! I left out our dramatic play (which is currently the emergency room, with the light table for exploring x-rays), lunch area, and art area, but you can see most of that here. I’d love to hear your ideas or suggestions.

classroom tour

dramaticplay

Hi, friends! Welcome back :) Today was the first day of school with our whole class (we do a transition week for home visits, conferences, and half-class days prior to the first day), and I’d love to give you a tour of our newly renovated space, if you like. Our classroom was part of the first phase of a school renovation plan this summer, but was not exactly renovated for early childhood (our white boards and new Smartboard are 31″, not exactly child-friendly height), so my co-teachers and I did our best to make the room feel cozy, warm, and welcoming to 3- and 4-year-olds.

The photo above is looking over our dramatic play center. We got new kitchen furniture this year. I would love a more neutral rug for the space, but being in a Title I public school, we work with what we’ve got (for now :). The curtains are from Ikea, and since we cannot drill into our new walls, we mounted them with heavy-duty velcro (hand-sewed to the curtains in certain spots — the adhesive KILLED my sewing machine) adhered to the mini blinds.

tabletoys

 

Welcome to our table toys center (which is behind dramatic play). There is a cozy area to work on the carpet, as well as a table space. The frames on the windowsill hold family photos we took on home visits.

Click below for more!

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