- Attention is given to the use of time (e.g., scheduling), space (e.g., classroom design), and resources (e.g., materials placed in centers) to offer developmentally appropriate choice and child-centered control in our classroom
- Learning happens in a variety of contexts around the school (e.g., classroom, atrium garden, gymnasium, outdoors) and groupings (e.g., large group, small group, pairs, independent)
- Activities are integrated so that a variety of subjects and learning modalities are incorporated into children’s experiences
- Activities are open-ended and child-centered
- Children have choice and control in where they work within the classroom
- Large blocks of uninterrupted time are provided for children to become fully engaged in their activities
- Centers and activities evolve with the needs and expressed interests of children
- Transitions are kept to a minimum
- Literacy and numeracy are integrated throughout the day (rather than delivered in an isolated block of time once a day)
- There is a balance among the six learning areas
- There is a balance of exploration, investigation, guided instruction, and explicit instruction
- There are opportunities for learning through different forms of play in the physical environment and the activities
- A large block of time for play-based learning (at least 60 minutes morning and afternoon)
- Planning is collaborative between the FDK team; children’s ideas and thinking are also represented
- Levels of support are evident – large group, small group and individual instruction
- Large group instruction time is brief and focused
After children have engaged in an approximately 30 - 40 minute playtime they are invited to join me on the carpet for opening circle. Children are able to finish up their playtime activity before joining me or also have the option to return to the activity after circle. This main gathering time is a great chance for the children to come together as a community and set a positive tone for our day together. After procedural items like attendance are complete the main focus on this circle is usually literacy (reading, writing, and oral language) with other curricular areas interwoven in order to make learning layered and meaningful.
The children then dress for outdoor play and head outside. There are three kinds of outdoor activities that we regularly use (not all on one day).
Free outdoor play with materials: We have an abundance of outdoor toys like balls, hula hoops, bikes, etc. and the children enjoy using these in the yard. We set these up in a centre formation (e.g., all the hula hoops together, all the balls together) and the children are invited to play with any equipment they'd like to during our time outdoors. We also bring many consumable materials outside with us including bubbles, sidewalk chalk, paint, clipboards and writing materials, etc.
Guided outdoor play activity: In this type of activity we lead children in a purposeful activity related to a current interest or inquiry. For example we might visit a favourite area of the yard with our sketching pads or go on a nature walk with the ipads and look for math in the yard.
Open-ended outdoor play with no materials: We have a large play yard and many times we will visit different areas of it with no equipment at all. Children are encouraged to use found and natural loose parts (e.g., rocks, sticks, flowers) in their play. This is imaginative play in its purest form and a joy to watch.
When finished the children tidy up the materials, enter the classroom and put away belongings in their cubbies.
Children regroup on the carpet for a quick whole group meeting. Usually there is consolidation and sharing from either of the first two play blocks (indoor and outdoor) or children share treasures from nature found outdoors. Sometimes the educator reads another book or a 'poem of the week' to children and more planning for the afternoon is done.
Children are able to participate in a second outdoor playtime that includes a free, guided, or open-ended activity. At the conclusion of the outdoor play time toys are tidied and returned to the shed and the children enter the classroom. Because they are already dressed for home (and this is especially beneficial during cold snowsuit weather) we have fewer transitions requiring children to dress and undress in outdoor clothing.
Children enter the classroom and sit in their cubbies. Children who take the bus are escorted to the bus line at the back of the school by an educator while another remains in the room to dismiss children picked up by families. Seeing each family at the end of the day gives us another chance to chat and share something from the child's day. The families are also eager to look around the room and see the new art and documentation on display. It is a calm, peaceful way to end our time together.
Curtis, D., & Carter M. (2003). Designs for Living and Learning: Transforming Early