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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Our Classroom Environment: Getting Set Up To Be The Third Teacher

Those who are familiar with the Reggio Emilia philosophy of education know the emphasis it puts on the physical environment of the classroom. The classroom is thought of as the third teacher, the first being the teacher and the second being their peers.  I spent a lot of time thinking about the layout of my classroom and reflecting on how it worked out last year and how I could improve it. 

One thing that I remembered was that a lot of learning took place in our building and engineering areas!  In these areas the kids learn the important life skills of planning, learning from mistakes, problem solving, collaborating, team work, creativity, dealing with disappointment, persistence, listening to others, respect, and responsibility! A lot of reading, writing and math skills are also used in these areas! Some problems we ran into last year was that there wasn't enough room, their creations kept getting knocked down, and there was no place for works in progress. With this in mind, I created larger areas for building and engineering in protected areas with no traffic. 





I made our library more cozy where they could relax with a good book! They will also have a listening station and big books will fill the basket in this area later. Here they will read for both pleasure and purpose.  They will learn about story sequence, sight words, phonics and phonemic awareness skills! They will research and write about what they read.


We have an Art Studio in our room that fosters spacial sense and 21st Century Skills needed to be successful adults such as creativity, problem solving skills, planning skills, and collaboration.  They will explore many different mediums in this area.  I have made art materials readily available and sorted by color.


Clay is also available in our art studio area to encourage creativity and build fine motor skills. 


There is also a space for transient art in our art area! For now they can create using buttons. 


The home living area for now can be a house or a restaurant. The children will change this area according to their interests! In the past it has been a bakery, wedding cake shop, airport, veterinarian office, pet store and doctor's office.  They do the creating when it changes and a lot of reading, writing and math skills are used when they do so.  When they play in this area, they are role playing future jobs, collaborating and learning how to get along, share, problem solve, negotiate, and handle disappointment... all important life skills!


This is our "Look Closer" area. Here the kids will see, think, and wonder! They will learn to slow down, look closer and document what they notice using writing and observational drawings and using different art mediums. For now we have rocks, shells, and things that come from trees that they are looking closer at. 


I have an area set up to invite the kids to explore measurement and record what they notice.



Shelves have trays with many opportunities to explore math concepts...







and Literacy concepts. 






Writing and craft materials are also available. 


This area is where I pull small groups and do project work with the kids.


Here is our classroom where they will build their minds, muscles and imaginations and work on 21st Century Learning Skills on a daily basis!  I am excited for you to see how these areas evolve based on the kids interests and needs all year long! The environment truly will be the third teacher for these kids and for me! 





Stay tuned for my next post about how we do things during the first week of school!

27 comments:

  1. Thank you for giving us such a wonderful, detailed glimpse into the space where our children will be spending some of the most important days of their lives! It is truly appreciated.

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    1. It is my pleasure! I'm excited to record for you all of the wonderful things they will start wondering, investigating and exploring!
      Sincerely,
      Darla Myers

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  2. Thanks Darla, we're so excited for Kylie to have this opportunity. We believe that this type of learning will be right up her alley. She's always wanting to know more than we can attempt to explain and her independence is relentless. Enjoy your new school year and we look forward to all you have to offer.

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  4. Your room looks so inviting and is well set up to be the third teacher. Your posts always inspire me!

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  5. So beautiful and inspiring... Can't wait to see what you're kids explore this year!

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  6. So beautiful and inspiring... Can't wait to see what you're kids explore this year!

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  8. I haven't even gotten past the first photo, and inspiration struck! I have large, open shelves for my blocks, and the chaos and disorganization of the blocks was driving me nuts, not to mention they were falling off all the time - wood blocks hurt when they hit your feet! Anyway, your divided shelves gave me the idea to use several extra library bookends that I had to separate the different types of blocks. Already I can see a difference on the first day. Thanks!

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  9. Darla your room is so so beautiful and inspiring!! Thank you for sharing!

    Yukari
    A Pinch of Kinder

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  10. I love reading all your posts and saved this one for my future classroom. I will graduate in December from the University of Tennessee, where I studied and did my practicum at the Reggio Emilia Inspired Early Learning Center. I hope to take my background into a public school Kindergarten classroom. Your blog gives me inspiration and reminds me that it is possible!

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    1. How wonderful Maggie! The public school systems need you! It can be a challenge but I've been stubborn and dedicated to proving it can be done! Good luck on your journey!
      Sincerely,
      Darla

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  11. I just found your blog and I am so inspired by your environment and provocations for learning. I am getting ready for winter break but looking at your blog will give me ideas for the next semester. I am a new teacher and felt like I was drowning but see your math and the look closer center has given me some ideas. I also like the sensory that you offered in literacy. I look forward to your new blogs and will read your previous blogs. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you so much! I am so glad that my blog has helped you with some ideas! Being a new teacher can be very overwhelming! Good luck on your journey!
      Sincerely,
      Darla Myers

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  12. I moved into a new classroom this year. I tried to organise it as best I could, but it always turned out to be a mess after a few days with the kids. I reorganised it many times, with some improvement, but still not enough.
    Your classroom inspires calm, imagination, research, and well beeing. I wish I could transform my class for it to resemble yours, but it's impossible. Our classes are much smaller. But I will try to apply some of your concepts of organisation in the different areas.
    Congratulations and thank you for sharing you hard work with us.

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    1. Hi Nicole!
      Don't be discouraged! Remember that most blogs only show the good, not the bad and the ugly! With 25 kindergartners, it is usually very noisy! It is good noise though! At the beginning of the year, I only allow them to play with a few things and use a few materials. As they prove they are responsible enough, I give them more. As soon as they quit cleaning up to my expectations or treating my things with respect, I take opportunities away and they have to earn them back. Even after they learn how to take care of each area, we still have to go back and review off and on the proper way to take care of our things and how to clean up well.
      I would start small with just a few materials and see how that goes! Good luck!

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  13. This is possibly the BEST classroom I have ever seen. So much thought went into every inch. Thank you for sharing!

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  14. Your site, classroom, ideas, activities are absolutely brilliant engaging! Thank you for inspiring me for my new Kindergarten class. I wish my own kids could have you as a teacher :)

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  15. Thank you so much for this post Darla, I am going into a new school and new class (being A LOT smaller then the room I am coming from). My new room layout seems to be a lot like yours. But what I am struggling with is do you do class meetings anywhere? If so where do you have the space?
    Thank you

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    1. I do have a meeting area but we really squish together to fit in it! I have a very large room so that gives me more space to add a meeting area. Sometimes, I let some kids sit at the tables closest to the meeting area if we are too squished!
      Sincerely,
      Darla Myers

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  16. good evening. How old are your children? Thank you for sharing your classroom. it is really very inviting for children and grown up.
    Agnes

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    1. Hi Agnes!
      Thank you! They are 5 and 6 years old.
      Sincerely,
      Darla Myers

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  17. Hi Darla,

    Your classroom is absolutely beautiful. Where did you find the wooden name card holders on all of the tables?

    Thank you,

    Alyssa

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    1. Hi Alyssa!
      My husband made them for me! I wish they were easy to find somewhere!
      Sincerely,
      Darla Myera

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  18. Such wonderful ideas. Thank you so much. Hard sometimes to use these lovely ideas when space is limited compared to the number of kids in class.

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  19. Thank you for taking the time to share the WONDER-FULL things that are happening in your classroom.

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