- children are capable of constructing their own learning
- children form an understanding of themselves and their place in the world through their interactions with others
- children are communicators
- the environment is the third teacher
- the adults in the room are mentors and guides
- there is an emphasis and importance on documenting children's thoughts and experiences
- there are hundreds of languages of children and these are used to explore and communicate ideas and experiences
I believe in showcasing the professional development and work I have done outside of the classroom and keep copies of important professional endeavours (published articles, yearly plans, copies of presentations, OT information) just behind the door so it's visible and can be accessed by anyone who visits the room.
Each child has a special binder that acts as a portfolio of their explorations and achievements throughout the year. These are visible and accessible to families and many children like to look through their collection of artifacts during the day. This encourages metacognition and reflection as the children review their learning and share it with others. We also find it can spark future work as children revisit and enhance their ideas in new ways. These are also sent home on a regular basis and we include a reflection page for families to use as a guide when reviewing the artifacts with their children. These are returned to school and included in the binder. Although children self select pieces to be included, we also insert any evidence that we feel helps share the story of the child's experiences throughout the year including annotated photos, written observations, drawing and writing samples, checklists, interviews with the child and many more pieces.
Currently oil pastel drawings of the children are on display (we love chicken wire for presenting art).
A shelf (made from an IKEA wall shelf propped on big blocks) keeps things low for the children to access when seated on the carpet. We have natural materials and many loose parts that are used as decor for the centre. Children can also access these and use them in their play.
Child-sized chairs, comfy pillows and a whimsical light invite children to stay for a while and read a book or chat with a friend.
Our families have been so generous in donating materials that they think might enhance our space. We try and use every inch of the room to reflect the stories of the children and engage and inspire. This is the back of an easel currently being used to display this fun frame. Our children love being outdoors and we want to advocate for the richness of the play that happens in our outdoor 'classroom' so we have many photos from outside around our room.
We also like to engage children in collaborate art experiences. Earlier in the year we focused quite a bit on mindfulness and growth mindset. We read the book Extra Yarn and the children were eager to create a collaborative weaving piece using materials from the art studio and chicken wire. We have this on display near our cubbies.
The children co-create displays in the classroom including the number line. We used paper mache and paint to sculpt these with the children. We believe it's more meaningful to have children create the reference and anchor materials in the room and do not use purchased or pre-made educational materials.
Our math shelf has many things available for children. We include mentor texts, learning props, and documentation to showcase and support our program.
Professional books that have inspired me are interwoven throughout the displays as well as reflective pieces and documentation regarding how math works in our room.
The children 'sign in' every day by putting their magnetic face on the ten frame. This provides a context for a daily number talk as the children share ways they have calculated the number of children at school for the day. At the beginning of the year children simply counted the magnets but as they've become more sophisticated in their math explorations, can now create complex equations and use strategies like skip counting and doubling to arrive at a total.
Our drama centre changes based on the interests and requests of the children. Currently it is set up as a little 'house'. We include many real objects for the children to use in their imaginative play; real objects communicate the message to children that they are capable of using these tools and make the context for the imaginary play very real and meaningful.
A silver tea set is a favourite for many!
We use realistic representations of food instead of plastic products.
The babies sleep in a wicker bed.
Literacy is interwoven throughout as children can talk on the phone, write on the chalk boards, or follow a recipe when cooking.
Documentation hangs on the wall with a description of the centre and how it engages children. The QR code when scanned brings the user to all blog entries tagged 'dramatic arts' so they can see the history of the centre and learn the many stories of what has transpired in that area over our year.
A cozy chair can be integrated into the play or used for children who want to snuggle up with a book or take a rest.
Our building area is the heart of our room and the most popular place to be. Children integrate materials from all around the classroom into their play here. We love the big body play the wooden blocks encourage.
Art is celebrated and used as decor. Recycled frames are used to make the room cozy and celebrate the artwork.
The tops of shelves showcase current interests the children have. Right now they are fascinated by birds and signs of spring. Nests and a birdhouse along with literacy materials related to birds are on display for the children's use and also as decor.
Unique things like this old hat box are also integrated into the space.
More documentation about our philosophy for the importance of building is on display in the corresponding area.
Our field trips support current inquiries and are an important part of the program. We have a wall dedicated to showcasing photos and documentation from our most recent trip together. Currently it's about our visit to Fighting Island.
We are often asked by other educators about how we encourage the children to engage in regular reading and writing in a child-driven space. On the back of our bookshelf are writing clipboards, one per child. We ask children to self-select a piece of writing that they are proud of and display it on their clipboard. These are then brought to a sharing circle where children can discuss their work with others. It's a quick and easy way for us to see which children have (and haven't) engaged in regular writing so we know how to better support their needs. The children also have personal journals available in the writing area and next year we are hoping to introduce nature journals to be used as a regular part of our outdoor learning.
This is our writing area. We like to have a beautiful, inspiring space for the children to use when they want to draw pictures or write with their friends. The children co-created this alphabet in the fall.
Math is integrated into the centre as children need to sort the drawing materials by colour.
A quaint vintage lamp provides beauty and interest to the area.
Materials are organized to keep things predictable and accessible and mini chalkboard tags label what goes in the baskets.
Documentation (usually annotated photos and learning stories) are added to the documentation clipboard to show what has happened at the centre. A QR is also available here and users can scan it to see all the blog posts tagged literacy that have happened throughout the year. Because so much of what we do is captured digitally, the QR codes help us make this visible and accessible. The children are also knowledgeable on how the codes work and can also scan them with the class iPad if they'd like to reflect on past events.
More natural materials are organized and displayed as decor and invitations for children's wonder.
We are fortunate to have a very large wall of windows on one side of the space and this is where we house our science and art areas. The view outdoors often inspires children as they observe nature and enjoy watching the birds at the feeder.
Loose parts play are a big part of our program as we embrace all things STEAM and love our makerspace. We use many natural and found materials here and always welcome donations from our families.
The science area also houses many building materials and the children can freely use these around the room in any area to support their play. We've attached a gardening trellis to a mirror so that photos of current interests (like insects) can help create a print-rich space.
Our light table invites exploration, usually using loose parts. Currently the children are noticing the changes on the trees in our yard and have enjoyed playing under them. In this invitation we are encouraging the children to create and explore their ideas of what is important about trees.
More science materials and documentation on display...
Children's explorations regarding colour mixing is currently on display as this was a very involved and ongoing interest this year.
Our name wall is organized by the number of letters in a child's name to encourage math and subitizing. We have used paint chips as our name cards to show that colours have many shades.
A current exploration is planting and our sunny window has many projects the children are currently working on including reading and writing about plants, growing many different kinds of seeds, tracking how fast the plants are growing, and journaling about these experiences.
Invitations for further exploration are sometimes set up on the table in this area. Last week the children noticed holes in the trees in the yard so we are inviting them to do some research so they can figure out what caused the holes.
A sensory table integrates imaginative play regarding current interests, here insects and gardening.
The art studio is located in a sunny window of the classroom. You can see that colours and colour mixing are ongoing interests and there is much art that supports this.
The materials are aesthetically arranged to be accessible for children and also decorate the space.
Materials are organized by colour for ease of accessibility and also to embed math and sorting into the centre.
More documentation shares the stories of the learning in this area.
Our last communal project involved beading with recycled materials donated by our families.
An interesting piece of art hangs over the space.
Children can self-regulate and when they are hungry free flow independently into the snack centre during our big play blocks.
Literacy is encouraged here as children write and read letters written to one another and delivered in the mailbox. We have paper hearts so that the children can send thankful hearts to one another, celebrating acts of kindness. We also have an easel as visible in the previous photo that asks children a math question, usually a survey. Sometimes the educators write the question, other times the children do.
Throughout the year we have celebrated the individuality of children and how we can work together in a mindful space that supports growth mindset. This is documented in a large bulletin board near our snack centre. We have used recycled fabric squares as a background to represent the 'quilt' of student photos that celebrate each child and show how beautiful we are together as a group.