Another Classroom Remodel

When I walk into a new teaching space, I love the opportunity to try and make the space as welcoming and calming as I possibly can.  I haven’t quite mastered this craft yet, however, as a general rule, I try to make sure that I don’t display things in our classroom that I wouldn’t want in my own living room.  The challenge can sometimes be working with what is already in the room, but when I am mindful of this, I know that at the very least, I am not bringing more “noise” into our learning space.  (If you are interested, “before” pictures can be found at the bottom of this post).

This year, I took some time to explore other opportunities in our district for the first few months of the school year before accepting my current position.  At the time of this post, I have been in this space for 12 teaching days so I still consider our space a “work in progress”.  As my students and I are continually growing, learning and evolving, can any space ever really get to the point where it is considered “done”?  As it currently sits, I feel that the space is already becoming one that provokes curiosity, exploration and independence.  As you look through the images below, you will notice some large areas devoted to play as this is something I truly value when working with early learners.

When you enter our space, this is the first impression you have from the door:

View from door

To the right of the door, there is a little table.  One basket is to collect library books and book bags.  The other is for agendas and home reading folders.  (The rocks all have student names on them.  As they put their agenda in the basket each day, they also put their rock in the jar.  My “helper” can then read the names on rocks still out and gently remind those students to get their agendas).  Under the table is our juice box recycle bin and a bin where we keep indoor shoes.

Agenda Bin

The next thing you see as you make your way counter-clockwise around the room is this blue table and a shelving unit with our “tub toys”.   Behind the green divider, is our “house centre”.

Blue Table

Here is another view of the “blue table” from a little further back.  In this photo, you can also see our little white table which is currently being used for smaller blocks and in the bottom lower right corner is the edge of a pellet table we are currently using.

Block Table

Behind the mirror shelf (pictured above), we have a little yellow table.  Currently this is our “story-telling” area where students use puppets they have made (or other finger puppets) to retell stories we have been reading in class.  Can you tell that their current favourite is “The Three Billy Goats Gruff”?

Drama Centre

Next to the “blue table” is our “house centre”.  As you can see, it has quite a big footprint in our learning space.  

House Centre - From Outside

From inside the house, this is what you see:

House Centre - Close

There’s the kitchen:

House Centre - kitchen

an eating area, sleeping area for the babies and the closet for all the clothes (even some of the “mail” from the mailbox that was forgotten on the floor made it into this picture!):

House Centre - closet and cradle

and of course, the living room with lots of books to read:

House Centre - living room

Helping to create a “boundary” to our house, is our listening centre:

Listening Centre

Next comes our carpet and big block area.  Along the wall under the SmartBoard are 3 big buckets with our smaller wooden blocks and on the shelves under the windows are our big wooden blocks (The sign on the block left out shows they have been busy building McDonald’s this week!).  The bench in the foreground stores bins for trains and cars, etc.

Carpet Corner

On the black filing cabinet is our “daily schedule”: 

Daily ScheduleThe last big area as you move though our space is our “art” space.  In this first photo, you can see a small table that currently is being used for playdoh as well as our big art table.  

Art and Playdoh Table

Mounted on the shelf (in the bottom right corner) is a rack to help organize some of the drawing and colouring materials that are used most often.  In this picture, you can also see our coat hooks and the pellet table that is currently out (it is on wheels so we roll in to this space for centre time and then tuck it in by our easel for the rest of the day so we have enough room when we come in or are getting ready to go back outside).

Art Centre - bins

And lastly, you see the easel, counter and sink and our drying rack.

Art Corner

And that is pretty much it.  As you can see, it is a busy place with plenty going on.  I hope you enjoyed the tour and maybe left with an idea or two to use in your own space!  As always, I welcome any comments or suggestions below.  

The “Before” Pictures (in case you were curious where this all started from):

After the previous teacher had left with all her stuff, the room was pretty much a blank canvas, waiting for my touch!  The first thing I did was have the “teacher desk” and some other unwanted furniture removed from the room.  This is what was left:

In this photo, you can see the entrance door to our classroom:

Before - Entrance

Turn counter-clockwise and this is our bulletin board area:

Before - Bulletin Board

Turn counter-clockwise some more and you see the gathering area and smart board.  (The empty corner by the Smart Board is where the teacher desk was once).

Before - Carpet Corner  

Continue to turn counter-clockwise and you see the back nook with a sink and counter.

Before - Art Corner


Hurray for Learning

learning big logo

Now that I have dabbled with blogging for a bit, I realize that I have many ideas to share that don’t fit my “Hurray for Play” vision.  I have decided to create a second blog, “Hurray for Learning” and from today onward, I will separate “learning through play” posts from “language learning” posts.  To check out my other blog, please go to Hurray for Learning.

Teaching AM and PM Kindergarten – How to keep it all straight

When I began teaching kindergarten, I muddled with different ways to keep everything organized for two different classes.  (Those of you who have always taught full-day kindergarten probably can’t relate!).  The secret to my success: I colour code my classes.

I use green for my AM class and blue for my PM class, but you could use any two colours as long as they are readily available.  (I use the same system for anecdotal notes and assessments so it is important that I pick colours that paper is also stocked in at my school).

These are our bins for inside shoes. AM students put their shoes in the green bin when they go home and PM students use the blue one.

These bins are our “catch-alls” for handouts (and student work) that need to go home, again green for AM and blue for PM.

In our class we all sit together for snack.  Each student hangs their open backpack on the back of their chair and once everyone is settled, I can easily put things directly into each student’s backpack.  At our school, we often have notices for the “oldest or only” student from each family.  At the beginning of the year (until I have this list memorized),  I tie a bright yellow ribbon on each “oldest or only” child’s backpack so that I can efficiently hand out these notices.

The green and blue bins on this shelf are used for students to return their library books (our librarian likes them to stay separate by class).

What is your secret to keeping more than one class organized?  Please leave a comment and share.

Creating an environment that fosters curiosity, creativity and play

After reading, google-ing and reading some more, I decided to set up my room a little differently this year.  I wanted to create an inviting environment that fosters independence, creativity, curiosity and exploration, all through play.  After much moving and reorganizing, here is what my kindergarten classroom looks like so far:

Here is the first impression you get when you walk in our classroom door.

Another look from the door, this time looking in and to the left.  Our sensory table still needs to be filled!

This is what you see standing in the door and looking towards the door.

Our carpet time and gathering area.

Here is our dramatic play area, setup with a “kitchen” to start the year off.

This is going to be our “art centre”. I made the bench this summer with drawers to hold some of our bigger art materials like paper rolls, egg cartons, etc.

This small carpet area is for our building and construction centre.  Beside it, is our shelf of “tub toys” that we use to start each day aa well as our blue and green bins for returned library books.

Here is a look at another play area carpet and soon-to-be science area. In this picture you can also see the blue egg-chair for children who need a moment to calm down right beside our computer station (we got new computers and they have not been set-up yet).

Please leave me a comment letting me know what you think so far.  Do you have any other ideas you use to create a welcoming classroom environment?