As one academic year ends, we begin to think about our classroom for September. We may be in a completely new area or we may wish to make changes to the room we are already working in. Be creative! Measure your room or working spaces, measure fixed furniture and mobile units. Then draw everything to scale and cut out each piece of furniture/units. Place items on the scaled drawing of your working area and move them about to find the best locations to give you a clear bird’s eye view of your setting. Provide plenty of space between areas so students can move around without encroaching on the work of others. Fasten down rugs to avoid accidents. Keep fire exits and doors unobstructed. Consider the location of windows to make the best use of natural light.
Provide an area for students’ personal belongings and clearly label their personal space. Create distinct areas, so that messy or noisy activities do not encroach on quiet and reflective areas. Provide attractive boards that are child eye-height, to support learning and celebrate students’ outcomes. Organise storage of resources, making sure they are clearly labelled and accessible. Students then know where everything goes. Training them to tidy away when their activities are completed, will be straightforward.
Create an enticing and comfortable reading area, with cushions or a covering and display around six books, so students become familiar with them, and encourage them to browse. Change books every week and show students the new selection. In the mark making/ writing area, provide a range of writing tools and a variety of paper, card etc. Ensure students have a clear purpose for writing notes, messages, their news or illustrations.
The mathematics area should have challenges using resources in two and three dimensions, as well as opportunities for counting, ordering and sorting objects. Display a clear number line always starting with zero. Encourage students to build, with an idea in mind, in the construction area.
Set up a creative area with paper of various colours and sizes. Provide scissors, and glue, all stored safely, but accessible. Provide paint, brushes and sponges of different sizes and encourage students to mix new colours. Provide malleable materials of different colours and vary the texture with glitter, rice or sand. Provide interesting images to inspire students and value their creativity. In the music area, two instruments at a time are sufficient for students to compare sound and create simple sound effects.
In the sand and water areas, decide in advance what you want students to learn and provide appropriate resources. Encourage on-going scientific investigations with plants, natural materials, different fruits and vegetables. Provide magnifiers for close observations and paper/pencils for recording. Encourage experimentation with magnets and gravity.
Change the role-play area and small world play regularly. Link these free play areas to themes so students can act out new ideas, use new words and consolidate their understanding.
Many of the above areas can be also set up outside. Outdoors is ideal for gross motor skill development, for negotiating between objects, for running or for using wheeled apparatus. Encourage balancing and climbing. Use bats, balls and bean bags to develop eye-to-hand coordination and bodily awareness. Designate specific areas outdoors for different activities, to encourage vigorous activity for all, but ensuring safety at all times.
- Use a scaled drawing to plan your classroom
- Make sure fire exits and doors are unobstructed, and rugs are fastened down
- Separate noisy/messy activities from quiet ones
- Provide interesting activities for all areas of learning
- Make full use of the shaded outdoor area