Friday, 25 July 2014

Inspiration from Boulder Journey School...

As Sam Hall kindly fixed the technological side of things for my presentation at Boulder Journey School I was free to have a quick look around the school after hours...

Preschools always have an eerie feel I think when they are totally quiet... it's as if they are supposed to be alive with the sound of children at play. So I almost tip-toed around in the quietness looking at how the preschool has evolved over the last year.

It was obvious that teachers change classrooms - as I saw that the birthday colours (see here to read that post) was now in a different room. I guess that it demands a lot of work to move a whole classroom from one location to another, but at the same time it does open a natural opportunity for the space to develop... not only does the space demand that he be treated differently (as wall fixtures/windows/outlets etc might not be the same) but also it creates the time and space to make the teacher think about the play/learning space... what NEEDS to be brought over, what areas should be enhanced/changed... does this group need the space to be almost the same for comfort or is a total change needed? These are questions that should be asked all the time, but sometimes life and work and play gets very busy and time is just never there to give all aspects of development justice... and the space (the third teacher) also needs time and consideration when it comes to its development.

I have worked in preschools where we follow the children from department to department (as we don't tend to call them classrooms until they are in school - as the room classroom these days tends to signal formal learning rather than learning through play - at least from where I am standing on Swedish soil)... there are postives and drawbacks with these big changes...
The postives I mentioned above - the negatives have been the huge amount of time that has been consumed making the move - of sorting out cupboards to work out what equipment is already there - of discovering that far too often groups have made orders of supplies without checking the cupboards first - and there are boxes and boxes of crayons or some other supply stuffed at the back - or that there have been cupboards filled with old curtains/material as the new teachers wanted a frsh look for the room. I feel it was such a waste of resources...
One place I worked at had ALL their materials in one big storage area that all departments could go to - so everyone knew what was available, and it was great to rotate materials too.

I think I preferred looking around Boulder Journey School this time, rather than at the Summer conference... it was much easier to see the children and not only the teacher's interpretation of the children. Adults have a much more organised way of showing children's play and learning... it is beautiful and awe-inspiring, but I find children more chaotic - and not in any negative form of the word - I think chaos can be a beautiful thing, I think there is more opportunity for creativity in their chaos than in the organised adult world where we tend to compartmentalise everything...

Enough babbling... to the images... it was rather dark (one of two rainy days I experienced in Boulder during my 4.5 weeks there) and the lights were off and all the chairs were up in preparation for being cleaned - so the images are not always very clear...

a mirror suspended above a lightbox sat on its side...

play... different areas to support different kinds of play... plenty on the floor and high up... This time I reacted more to the changing table in the "classrooms" after noticing them being in use in Canada... in Sweden we don't have changing areas where the children are playing/learning but in the same area as the toilets/potties. This is to value the intergrity of those who are still in nappies/daipers...

play on the floor, but slightly raised... clearly marked area for play and exploration... especially the ramps - how will things roll?

play being saved to continue with the next day... the construction on the raised surface behind the table, and the artwork on the table with the chairs carefully placed on top - shows that cleaning can go on at the same time as conserving the children's play/work

a large part of this room has been devoted to role play - in fact it was placed centrally and not up against the wall. Where do you place your role-play area? and why?

evidence of play. There is no need to fear the mess... it all sweeps up.

here is the birthday colours now. A similar set up ina  different room.

I liked the torch hanging down onto the disco balls - would be fun with those coloured finger-lights too.

soem structures were almost the same as last year, but being used in a slightly different way... this year this area was about the child's perspective - last year it was about the civic area in downtown Boulder. This has given me an idea to do when i get back to work... as we have made a few changes to the layout of the preschool (added walls, taken away walls) and I am interested in the children's perspective of the preschool - of the "third teacher" - but I will explain more of that in another post...

I loved doing this as a child... but found as a teacher of preschooler that many children have found it quite tricky to roll the newspapers hard enough to construct with... it takes practice...

the area behind the curtain is for sleeping... maybe they could do something similar for the nappy/daiper changing area? Where are your changing tables located in your setting? And why?

A sand table with a zen garden feel. it just needs some rakes and some stones. Yes, there was sand on the floor around it, but I imagine the play and learning far outweighs any issues with clean-up. (although I can share a photo of one of my rooms after a child "explored" the flight potential of the contents of the sensory table (rice and lentils everywhere, and I mean everywhere - but it didn't take that long to tidy up, and the child helped too, and has not explored in that same way again since)

light exploration - lightbox on the floor with block, light-table to draw on - and an overhead on the shelf...

this room was being used by the children who are about to start school. I just loved that it seems to show that the children were playing right up until the last minute - have left their play so they can resiúme the next day...




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