In setting up the learning environment for both our new and familiar students, I found myself reflecting on how the students and educators utilized the space over the year and what we could do this year to continue to maximize the space we have.
My wonderful new Designated Early Childhood Educator partner; formally our teacher candidate from OUIT, Rose Marcelli and myself spent a week planning, collaborating, and designing our learning environment. The following are photos of our space with the rationale behind why we chose this layout to start the school year.
The whole group carpet area was the central space for our learners to come together and share their thinking and learning over the school year. We found that it took up a large space of the classroom and was only being utilized twice daily for whole group learning. We decided to move this space to a corner of the classroom, close to the personal best writing wall; a place we often refer to during our morning meetings.
In place of this area, we decided to move building and drama. These two learning areas have always been the most visited areas in our classroom, but not always the biggest. Having the two spaces side-by-side allows for the extension of play and use of materials over a larger space, opportunity for saving and revisiting structures, and endless possibilities for imaginative play and creativity.
We also decided to move the math area beside both building and drama, as we found students last year often used math manipulatives in both these areas.
We knew that we wanted writing to take up the same amount of space as last year, as students loved spreading out around the large table to work on writing and art. However, we decided to move it closer to the sinks, for easier access to water for painting and clean up.
The book nook, which was located near the whole group carpet, moved to a quieter corner of the classroom and now includes materials for calming and self-regulating behaviours such as feeling rocks, calming jars, and former emotions documentation.
We also added a small table for provocations or loose parts exploration separate from other defined spaces in the classroom.
The spaces that worked well last year and remain the same for the beginning of this school year are the self-regulated snack area, the light table, the sensory bin, and the science and discovery area. We made some minor adjustments to the areas; adding in shelving to store materials for the light table and a table by the wonder window for provocations.
We look forward to seeing how our former JK students interact with the new space as SK students, and we eagerly await our new JKs! As educators, we will continue to document and reflect on how the space is being used by the students, and what changes we can make to better suit the needs of our learners over the school year.