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

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

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!

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