If you've been following our Instagram account, you may have seen that my husband and I decided to plant Russian Mammoth Sunflowers this summer. They grew amazingly tall and I am so happy I decided to capture the stages of growth for the students to see once we were all back at school. I plan to bring in a few of my sunflowers for them to explore and to sketch. I hope that sharing my experience of the sunflowers with them will give them a better sense of of my appreciation for nature and may even lead to a few wonders.
Last year I feel we started with too many materials at the light table. Students need time to explore open ended materials and learn to respect them therefore we decided to place a few simple items out as a starting point.
With a small space we do not have a dramatic area in our classroom in the traditional sense. With that said, we realized that a perfect solution was to add some colourful silk and sheer fabrics to the Construction Area. We also added a basket with a few wooden bowls and cooking utensils. We realized that dramatic play is happening in all areas of the classroom. It does not necessarily need to be contained in one place. We encourage students to move materials to other areas of the room if it enhances their play.
The other side of our Construction Area contains large blocks and industrial cardboard packaging cylinders. This year we added peg people, grass, tree stumps, magnetic juice and jar lids, and clear plastic cylinders for building. I'm excited to see what the students create!
Another simple provocation we set up allows new and returning students to create at their own level of comfort using open ended materials such as shells, pebbles, and glass gems. I though about using kinetic sand for this provocation, but luckily we have the opportunity to use red sand from the beach in PEI! Thanks Kathryn (RECE) for lugging this back for us to experience! We really believe in sharing items that have a personal connection to us with the children. This allows us to tell stories and and demonstrate an appreciation for nature.
Activities using our names for exploring and reviewing letters, as well as for getting to know each other makes for great authentic learning experience. I hope the students enjoy this provocation. It's open ended so that some children learn the letters and number of letters in their name. Other children may want to explore the names of other students in their class and compare the number of letters in their name with their peers. Writing material is also placed as another medium of expressing or extending their thinking.
Last year we had two units that made up the Arts Studio. One shelf contained drawing materials and glue, and the other shelf contained materials in bins for students to create with. We noticed that not only were the shelves not visually pleasing to the eye, but students had a bit of difficulty accessing the items in the bins. This year, we decided to rearrange some furniture and place items in baskets which are more accessible and more enticing for the students to use. The materials on top of the shelf are also more visually appealing and accessible. Colours, materials, and aesthetics, enhances creativity.
Last year we started the year with empty glass paint containers. Once the students started asking to paint we got out primary paint colours as well as black and white paint and set up a provocation to explore colour mixing. The students enjoyed it and loved naming their new created colours. We hope to continue this exploration this year.
Inspired by the amazing resource Natural Curiosity, this summer I sent out a letter (found below) to the student's families explaining our Nature Treasure activity. I am hoping that the students create our Discovery Area together by bringing in a nature artifact or as we are calling it Nature Treasure that they connect with. Hearing each others stories and observing each others treasure will support relationship and community building. I can't wait to see what treasures are brought!
A few existing nature items to explore from myself, Kathryn, and past students.
The sand table contains shells, stones from the beach, logs, tree cookies, and a few glass gems for creating in the white sand.
Last year the children became really interested in math games. So we decided to create a games cart to place at the math area for children to play when they wanted. We also placed items such as calculators, measuring tapes, a scale, rulers, and an estimation jar full of wooden beads for students to guess how many.
The math shelves contain various items to explore and investigate numeracy, patterning, sorting, adding, and subtracting.
The Writing Area consists of a shelf that used to be a wooden dry rack with the slots removed. Once again, with little space, a large shelf would not fit this space. This little unit worked well last year, therefore we decided to keep it as it held the perfect items for a writing area.
These small spools are so handy. They are great to use for displaying the children's work during the year. Since it's a new start it also makes a handy book shelf as well as a great central place to house a few clipboards and crayons to make writing accessible in all areas of the room!
I'm excited to observe how the children will interact and form relationships with each other as well as with the materials and their environment!