If you have had any introduction to the Reggio Emilia approach, you will know that documenting children’s learning with photos is a valuable tool. The beauty of having a digital camera is that you can instantly see the photo, you can store the images on a computer to retrieve at a later date, and you have many options for printing. (Fine, medium, or ‘draft’ – to save on ink/toner.)
Find one that is easy to use, and sturdy. They make a great ice-breaker for the child at home visits! “Would you like to see your picture after I take it?”
We use a Sony FDMavica at school – the kind that can hold floppy disks. It is nice when we share it between classrooms because teachers have their own supply of disks.
Baskets have so much going for them! They come in all shapes and sizes, they look fabulous, they lend a warm feeling to the space they occupy – they are your best bet for in-room storage. (We’ll talk about clear plastic tubs in the closet/storage room as the best bet for out-of-sight storage in another post.) If you shop the thrift stores or find them on clearance, the prices are very reasonable! Buy sturdy, and replace them if they start to fall apart. (Ratty baskets do not make for a good environment!)
These baskets hold non-everyday art supplies – extra craft sticks, pom poms, tissue paper, etc. They are on a shelf in my classroom close to the ceiling.
These are baskets that hold paper, markers & crayons in one of our preschool rooms.
This photo is too dark, but you can see how we used baskets to store food & dishes in our toddler room.
This one comes from my boss. When I first began here, I would post their pictures on the bulletin board in the hallway. She told me it looked okay, but it would really be nice to mount it on a piece of construction paper to kind of frame it. I thought she was crazy to want me to take it all down and put paper behind it, but she explained that children’s art is important, and it should be important enough to us to honor it. (Again, read The Dot by Peter Reynolds. The art teacher frames Vashti’s dot in a gold frame!)
Take the time to display their work with some thought. Don’t knock yourself out, but use a paper cutter to make straight edges. If you’re using glue, go to the edges and weight it so that it doesn’t dry curly. (I prefer a glue stick.) For a quick display that is easily changed, take a same-sized piece of construction paper and put it behind the art diagonally.
There are many wonderful books out there that talk about room arrangement. (I’ll list them later.) Right now I would recommend Creative Curriculum as a great start – they have some drawings of proper room arrangement.
You will need to think about having a Block Area, a Book Area, a Gathering Area, Housekeeping, Art Area, Science Area, Manipulatives, a Writing Center and some spaces that can do double-duty.
Be sure you have room for everything, and if you have to make some areas to double-duty, that’s ok. Be creative!
One exercise that we did several years ago was to imagine what your Dream Classroom would be like. Draw it! You may not be able to do everything, but maybe you can begin on one thing now. It’ll get your creative juices flowing!
Steer clear of bright, primary colors if you can. Our staff had the opportunity to visit several of the schools in St. Louis and Chicago that employ the Reggio Emilia approach, and the warm, homey color scheme is so much more inviting and soothing! (Hopefully I can post some links to photos of those soon.)