Something I really believe in is making our classroom environments personalised and focused around the children. As a team we believe the children should have ownership of their own learning environment as this helps to engage and involve them in their learning.
Setting up classrooms at the beginning of an academic year can be tough… How do we create exciting environments that stimulate children’s imagination without really knowing the children? Yes we get to visit them on a home visit, but it takes a few weeks when the children start school to settle and to really explore the environment. Therefore the first few weeks are crucial. We walk the children around the classroom, pulling out different resources that we think the children may like to use, showing them the different resources.
Normally as a team, we move the classroom around several times in the first few weeks ( slightly annoying my LSA’s as they can’t find anything!) focusing on areas of development we have discovered from our observations of the children learning.
Displays start to go up, and as I said in another post, it’s vital that the children’s views are part of the displays. In my opinion, there is no point to putting up a wonderfully crafted display if the children can not talk about the learning behind it.This is essential as the children start school, that they feel the classroom is theirs. They need to have the ethos instilled in them that they can create anything, resources are available for them, and they know where to find them (and put them away!) to extend their learning.
We have several resource trolleys in the classroom that house a range of medias and tools for the children to use throughout the day. We also have pots hanging around the classroom near easels or boards to encourage children to mark make. Our creative workshop is full of fun and inviting resources with funnels to help children with cutting string or wool. Paper drawers are labelled as to different colours so the children can select what they want independently. Our paint station is next to our aprons. In this station we have brushes, pallets and paints for children to use themselves.
My team may say that I am slightly basket mad, but it allows resources to be displayed in away that is inviting to children. Within the construction and small world areas, we have boxes full of firm favourites, mobilo, Lego, duplo, slotago, magnetico, but we also display in baskets people, figurines, vehicles that add that something extra to the children’s play.
Over the last week I have enjoyed observing children looking though the different boxes and baskets, taking out different resources and exploring with them. At the end of our sessions maybe tidy up time does take a few minutes longer than the previous summer but our children are investigating and exploring new resources to them. In a few weeks time the children won’t need to pull out all the boxes, they will know where things are and be able to resource their play by themselves. It’s vital that we set up resources in an attractive way that will encourage children to use them and then during tidy up time they know where things go. What is the worse thing that can happen… The dinosaurs get mixed up with the cars? I think we can cope with that.