I know I am all over the place with my posts, but this is just the way my brain is working at the moment. In my first post, I mentioned my new director and I honestly can’t say enough good things about her! When we found out who she was and that her background was in Reggio, my work best friend and I immediately started researching Reggio Emilia. We loved what we found about the classroom being the third teacher, how inviting and natural the environments were and how parents are really involved with their child’s learning. That’s one thing I really wanted was for the parents of my kids to take the time to stop, explore our classroom, see what the children are learning, how they are learning and that we are NOT a…dare I say the D word…DAYCARE.
We met with our director and she was so excited that we were interested in Reggio and so gung ho about adopting it into our classrooms. She shared books and ideas with us and really got us started on our transition into Reggio inspired classrooms.
Now, the question was, where do we start? . . .
We began with the containers that the children’s supplies, materials and toys were in. Instead of the cute Target containers with hearts or the primary colored buckets we inherited from teachers past, we switched to wooden/wicker baskets. Well, we only had so many baskets available in the school so we decided to have a basket drive for the whole school. Where parents and teachers could bring in baskets they didn’t want any more. We got a few donations in but still hit the thrift stores a couple times a week for some good deals.
Side note-I am now addicted to thrift stores. I mean, it’s absolutely crazy how excited I get about finding a South Carolina shaped basket for 99 cents. It’s the little things in life I guess.
Anyways, after we purged our plastic containers and replaced them with the baskets (Believe me this was not a one week ordeal, it was an lengthy process. You don’t realize just how many containers you actually use in your classroom until you decide to replace them all!) we looked at our set up and presentation of our centers. I wanted to revamp my art center SO BAD! To Pinterest I went! I decided to organize my drawing mediums by color and use clear cups to display the markers, crayons and colored pencils so the kids could see the colors through the cups. It took me TWO MONTHS to find the right cups. Finally, I found heavy, PLASTIC, clear cups that were the perfect size. A giant bag of about 20 of them for $2.99. I have since used some of the cups for displaying materials for art projects and for holding water for when we water color. I made labels for everything that went on the shelves so the kids would know where everything belonged.
I also found a post about using baby food jars to store paint for the kids to use and mix to make their own colors. I did this but I also realized how perfect they are for putting glue in and just having the kids use q-tips to apply the glue to their projects. It cut down on the amount of glue sticks I throw away (now it’s ZERO) and I don’t have to continuously unclog glue bottles. (SCORE!) They are also almost impossible for the kids to break if they drop them!
I also decided to use the wall space above my art center to display student artwork. I found a great pin about using picture frames to display artwork and I must say this is my favorite part of my room!
Next, I went through all my materials, toys, and manipulatives. I wanted my things to have a more natural feel to them so that the kids would be the ones creating what they want instead of “playing within the lines” of what they were provided. Of course, I kept all our blocks, housekeeping toys, counting bears, unifix cubes and things like that. I went to the Dollar tree to see what kinds of materials I could find. I found colored stones on the craft isle that are used in fish bowls or flower vases. I use these as math manipulatives, to make patterns, for weighing, making numbers and letters and SO MUCH MORE! I also got a few mirrors for the kids to explore and work on. I go in the dollar store every now and then and find little odds and ends that I think of uses for.
We also chose to change our curtains! Instead of regular cloth we decided to go with. . . wait for it. . .BURLAP! I was a little skeptical at first but once they were all up, they really brought the room together!
With our extra burlap, we decided to use it for our bulletin boards. SPEAKING of bulletin boards. . . I wanted to make my calendar more meaningful to my students. I found a chalkboard banner at target for $1 that I use to display the month and I used twine and index cards for the dates. This is what it looks like:
Every day the calendar helper writes the number on the front of the card and then picks a student’s name out of our Popsicle stick cup to draw a picture on the inside of something they did that day. They draw the picture and I write a sentence about what they drew. As the month goes on it becomes and history of the classroom. The kids can look back and see what they have done all month long. At the end of the month I switch out the cards with blank ones. The cards I took off I place in the student’s portfolios.
Well, that’s enough for now. Soon I’ll post about the kid’s portfolios and how I do my documentation!