Here it is, 8pm on Sunday night, and our new classroom is FINALLY ready for the big reveal! It has literally taken me all week and some amazing helpers to get this done. Before I reveal the awesomeness that is our new classroom, let's take a moment to reminisce about the old classroom....
Not too shabby, I'll admit, but now, we have this....
And another view....
And the last little corner....
And here is a more detailed look at the different play areas. Please forgive my photography skills; the room gets amazing light, which is awesome for class time, not so great for picture-taking....
Our light table sits in the side hallway where it gets the least ambient light from the windows. I've added a mirror here for fun reflective play. Because this is such a small area, I've limited the number of children who can play here to two at a time.
Just outside of that little hallway is our block area, also with mirrors. I wish I could have put the mirrors right against the floor, but the baseboards created a problem. The white book displays in each area are made of vinyl gutter, which I had cut (not very happily) by someone at Lowe's. Also in each area are framed reminders (rules) that come in handy with a variety of different parent helpers rotating in and out of the classroom each month. The reminders are simple and can be read right off the sheet when the children need them, for example, "Blocks are for building."
Moving clockwise around the room, we come to our doll/house area. We are eagerly awaiting another shelf to create a divider between the blocks and the dolls, but for now, use your imagination. We have three new dolls with accessories as well as a dollhouse with two families and furniture. The felt board can be used for story time but we also have plenty of open-ended pieces for the children to make up their own stories. In the far right of the picture, we have our cleaning tools. Those are real tools - including the child-sized vacuum - and the children will be expected to use them. I don't foresee any issues with cleaning, it tends to be one of the more popular activities in class.
This area is our independent work area. The items on the black shelf can be taken to the table and used by one child or by one child with a teacher. I created this area mostly with my son in mind. Monkey gets really involved in his play and sometimes doesn't want to be disturbed. This corner provides a sanctuary for anyone who needs a little bit of space. Yes, there are two chairs at each table, and it will be quite the exercise in self-control, but with such a huge classroom and only 6 children (2 of whom are my own), I'm not anticipating a major problem once everyone adjusts to the rhythm and routine of the class.
Here is closer look at the kind of invitations in the independent work area. Small baskets of glass gems, buttons and rocks, each with a mirror; puzzles; sand tray with sandpaper letters and numerals; Montessori sorting box. The items on this shelf will be changed every other week or monthly depending on our themes.
Next up! Our play kitchen. Not much has changed in our kitchen except for some new plush food, a few new tools and some fun food-related books. The tools that are hanging on the shelf on the left may get relocated once we add a few dress-up items. You may be wondering about the 'No Good Job' sign above the kitchen. Not only have I hung reminders for the children, but for the adults also! If you are still saying 'Good Job', here are some reasons to stop. I've also provided a handy list of what to say instead - I've been reading this one a lot myself. I may have banished empty praise from my vocabulary, but that doesn't necessarily mean I remember to replace it with anything.
Our new sensory tables are filled with rice and beans, respectively. I have designated a special shelf for the tools that can be used in the tables. I'll be adding to this shelf as I find new and interesting things to try.
Our art area is jam-packed with collage materials. Each day, I plan to set an art invitation out on the table, but the children will be free to add to their creations using anything they find on the shelves. I've also displayed a few books about art for inspiration. There is also a small clipboard here, and in the block and light table areas, which is intended to be a place for children to formulate ideas and draw out their plans. I am aware that conceptualizing in this way will be completely new to most of my students, but we're going to work on it together!
In the center of our room is the group work area. The items on this shelf can be worked on with a friend or two or three (if the child desires). Some of the activities here will be rotated on a monthly basis. This area is kind of a science/math/language mash-up - everything relates, so why not just put it all together? The basket on the left is full of play silks, excellent for dress-up and pretty much anything else you can imagine. The white table on the right will be our future Peace Table. I am compiling a basket of items - handheld labyrinth, 'mind jar', books about meditation and some other items to be determined. The table will be a place for two children or a child and an adult or one child to go when there needs to be resolution or calming. This is not a 'time-out' table; the children will decide when they feel the Peace Table is necessary and will have to ask for the basket of items which will be put away until needed.
On the other side of our group work area is our magnetic white board. I will be using this board at circle time on occasion, but the children have magnetic letters and numbers as well as some shapes available at all times. I also plan to make some fun magnetic learning activities to rotate monthly. The green rug is our circle time rug, where we will come together each day for songs, stories and good chats. :)
Here's a quick peek at our entryway. This little corner is just inside the front door and isn't directly attached to the classroom. Each child has a cubby for his or her belongings. Our nature 'table' is currently located on top of the cubbies but MAY be moved in the future. The entryway also houses parent info such as our calendar, daily rhythm and co-op sign up sheet.
That about sums it up!! I hope you enjoyed the tour of our new classroom and I look forward to seeing it in action for the first time tomorrow!!