As I mentioned in my last post, our Full-Day Kindergarten room was formerly a Special Education classroom, so it is evolving each week as I acquire furnishings and materials. With a limited budget I have been busy searching for some small scale furniture items and resources that will provide an inviting and engaging learning environment. One of the first centres that I focused on was a Reading Centre. Although I had a carpet and cushions to define a reading area, the children were not frequenting the space as expected. Last weekend I was able to source a small set of outdoor furniture from a friend that only required some sanding and painting. I then went to IKEA to buy a canopy leaf that would define the space (hanging a curtain or fabric as a canopy is also effective). Baskets were used for organizing the books, and I also added a container of magnetic letters to use on the front of my desk which frames the reading centre space. The Reading Centre is now an inviting area that is enticing all the students to settle alone or with a friend to look at a book.
In the photo you will notice a covered chalk board above. I found that the black chalk boards surrounding the areas were not useful, so I covered them with brown craft paper. This provides a neutral background to display the children’s work. In this area as seen in the photo, I glued a piece of black construction paper for each student (26 total) and used paperclips to hang their current “Self-Portrait” representation. As noted on page 85 of The Heart and Art of Teaching and Learning, the self-portraits provide a gallery of the children’s work, as well as a source for assessment. Each month the children complete a new self-portrait and it is added on top of the previous month. Over time, one can see the development of fine motor skills, pictorial development, and writing abilities.
The other centres that are popular at this time are the blocks/building centre, drama centre (we just received a fridge and sink), and the play dough table. I do not have a specific number of students for each centre, however we limit according to what makes sense. If 5 or 6 children want to play in the dramatic centre, the children can accommodate to make it work. However, if 10 children ask to go to the drama centre, we say, “There isn’t enough space today,” and the child selects an alternative. We are still adjusting our centres to meet the students needs and interests. This week I will be working on the art studio, writing centre and math centre. In the next blog, I will provide updates on this progress.