Play In Classroom
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The Role of Play in the Overly-Academic Classroom
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My interest in the Reggio Emilia approach to education began when I was in undergrad. Learning about the physical environment in Reggio spaces was my favorite part, and I knew that one day I wanted to design my classroom based on the tenants of a Reggio space. However, the reality of getting hired 4 days before the school year started kept me from designing my dream Reggio space. I went crazy at the local teacher supply store and decked my room out in Dots on Turquoise everything!
It looked nothing like I imagined, so I knew I had a lot of room for growth. Fast forward to living in Colorado and having much more time to plan, and I was finally able to incorporate more Reggio influences into my space. I brought in more natural materials, took down a lot of my borders and posters, and created more cozy nooks. Another move and another classroom later, and I am finally able to realize my Reggio design dreams. I had to live in this space for a while before I could truly re-imagine it as a Reggio-inspired classroom. I want to share my strategies and tips for incorporating Reggio-inspired design into your classroom in both small and big ways.
I want to show you the phases of this design so you can see some very small ways to incorporate Reggio-inspired design into your space. I wanted to show you these pictures so you could see how little I had to work with during my first year. I moved my teacher supply store haul into a room with a desk, some tables and chairs, and a rug. Oh yeah, there was a small bookshelf and a set of cubbies, too!
The walls were painted cinder block and the floor was tile. It was big, cold, and one wall was bright red! Being very low on funds as a first year teacher in Tennessee meant trying to do the most with the least, so here are my tips for minimal resource Reggio:. As you can see, the physical space of the classroom can really make a difference in how Reggio it can feel. The carpet and wall colors in both of these spaces went a long way in helping me to bring more Reggio elements into this classroom. I was also able to accumulate some things over the first couple years of teaching that helped me with a space that added even more Reggio touches. Here are my tips for when your physical space looks nice and feels good, but you want more student spaces that are Reggio-inspired: Create areas that serve explicit purposes.
Make the reading space cozy, a place children can literally curl up with with a book. Let students help you design the things that are hanging up , like the number line, word wall, or class rules. Create your own signs instead of buying posters or premade ones at a store. Start to use real-world materials for learning experiences. Bring stones, rocks, buttons, or other items for math, for example. Make supplies easily accessible for students. Use baskets to store things so they are more easily seen. Remember colors. Both cool and warm colors have a place in the classroom. Choose one set of colors and stick with it, mixing lots of cool and warm colors together could be overwhelming. Start to experiment with flexible seating. Removing chairs goes a long way in changing the dynamic of the space.
You could also get lucky at garage sales or on Craigslist. If an admin is hesitant to bring a kitchen set into your room, explain the research behind the benefit of play. Finally… Current classroom, present day Current classroom, present day Current classroom, present day Current classroom, present day Current classroom, present day These pictures show my classroom in its current state. This change occurred during my 8th year of teaching and after lots of experimentation, as you saw in the pictures earlier in the post. I knew it was finally time to make bigger changes to my space so that I could get closer to a Reggio classroom.
But, you could always use Craigslist or garage sales to get some of these same materials. I have no chairs currently, but you can leave some in your space. Without so much furniture, my students have so much more space to move around. Add more visually-beautiful design elements that also serve a purpose. The white shelving in the middle of my room is our supply hub, the place where my students go to get any kind of work supply they may need during the day.
It uses natural materials and colors like the white shelves, wooden boxes, and glass jars. It incorporates color but in an understated way. Incorporate natural light. Open up all of the blinds and invite sunlight in. Use string lights, table lamps, salt lamps, or essential oil diffusers that light up. Resist the urge to always have on your overhead lights. Lighting plays a huge role in the coziness of a space. Remove unnecessary objects and bring in natural ones. I no longer needed a table caddy for each table, so I took them out and brought in succulents.
We also have other plants in our classroom now, and my students help me take care of them. Bringing in plants is a great way to make a space feel more natural, less like a sterile classroom. Plants are also natural air purifiers! Reject traditionally-designed classroom spaces. The idea is that your space feels welcoming, inviting, and calm. I hope you enjoyed seeing my classroom evolution! One HUGE factor that made this change successful was having someone to bounce ideas off of. A coworker of mine is very knowledgeable of Reggio and was an excellent resource for when I had a question or needed a suggestion. Yes they are! They're the LACK tables. I've found that you can't always find things on the website that you can find in store, especially the natural wood finish of these tables!
I'm so inspired by this transformation. I love how intentional and purposeful it has been. I also like how you show the progression. They make excellent classroom activities and promote student engagement. Soccer Math Games Kids all over the world love playing soccer. Incorporate this fun sport into your lessons to engage your students and make learning fun. Baseball Math How many homeruns can you hit? Play these fast-paced math baseball games to learn math and show off your skills. Math Millionaire Bring some spark into your math lessons by playing these fun and engaging math millionaire games. Math Jeopardy These exciting math jeopardy-style game are excellent for practice and review. Decimal Games Practice working with decimals by playing a variety of fun games.
Math Fraction Games These cool games are designed to help you understand and work fractions in an engaging way. Equation Games Do you know how to solve linear equations? Play these fun games to find out. Place Value Games On this page you can find a plethora of interesting place value game.