Standing interest area for small spaces is a great solution for those of us with small schools! 🙂
I have magnetic dolls and puzzles set up for the right side of the shelves, which could possible have two or three children on that side. On the left side is construction which can have up to four children.
Simple provocations or materials of interest can be easily set up and as a facilitator and Teacher the observations can be very informative! Sometimes I have found that young children will interact with children they don’t normally play with if interest areas are set up similarly to the one above. We can’t always assume the friendships that will be made when a child is young and learning so many aspects of social/ emotional development. It is a good reminder to not prejudge children and make the assumption that we, the adults, know more about the child’s choices in friends. Sometimes the friendships made will surprise us! And small spaces can encourage friendships that may never have developed in a larger space. 🙂
My reading corner is small and only has space for two children at a time, which is exactly the way I want it for now. Reading and enjoy books can happen in large and small spaces and with several to only a few children at a time. Picture books with bright vivid detailed illustrations help to bring out a child’s natural curiosity in reading. 🙂
Small spaces like the reading corner are also easy spaces to change if we as a group decide we need to use the area for a display space for say, a rocket ship or small home built from boxes etc. Don’t ever feel limited just because you have a small preschool. Keep an open, flexible and creative mind and trust your young students to help plan how to use those spaces. 🙂
If you also have a small preschool or home where either your students or children play, please let me know the creative things you have done to keep the space full of curiosity, joy and wonder! 🙂
Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning
I have a few other interest areas that I utilize in my small preschool. 🙂
On this side of the shelf is standing space for wooden dolls and paper clips! Two children can engage in this standing space and still have elbow room. If your preschool space is small too, then you know what it is like arranging things so you can get the most out of your space.
I’ve seen this done and I’ve done variations of this type of provocation. Set up whatever mathematical picture you want. Above I made a circle shape, pattern and an arrow for direction. Take a picture and set up the real materials along with some pictures for the children to have some ideas to go off of. Then you can step back and see what patterns, shapes or pictures the children create using everyday office supplies.
With loose parts and found items being very popular now days, it would be great to also use materials the children have collected for your picture provocations. That way the children will have one more way in which to use their loose parts and found items. 🙂
If you find the standing interest areas are getting too crowded because they are popular with your students, you can always create another rug space on the floor if you have the room. I have an area where the coat racks are that I could put another cushy rug in case more children at a time find the provocations to be a “must do” on their list of accomplishments for the morning. 🙂
Please share some of your provocations! What worked for your small spaces and what did not? 🙂
Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning
Standing interest areas for small spaces is great for young and energetic people! 🙂
I created a butterfly easel which has space for two small children to paint together or one alone. On the shelf there is space for one person to color. Many of my students have been “movers”, so standing and creating is something young people do naturally. Sitting is not always the preferred position when children are in the midst of creating.
The branches are from a rhododendron that has seen better days. I liked the fact that the branches have so many different twists, turns and textures so I added it as an inspiration for a drawing.
In these pictures I did not open the paint because I prefer to do that when I actually have little people using the materials. I just wanted to set up these provocations so I could show how I use them in small spaces and how they can be aesthetically pleasing. I’ve discussed being messy before, but that is very true with paint! 🙂 So I like to make sure I’ve gone over the clean up routine with the children prior to engaging in a messy lesson. Once children know what to do they quickly adapt. Again, patience is really important because getting messy is part of the process and the process is far more important than the final product.
Part of the Reggio Inspired approach I use is to document what the children are doing with each provocation. I like to take pictures and notes so I can understand what each child is thinking of and draw out more information from them during a meeting. I also like to document the play patterns, interests individuals and the group seem to be displaying through the choices being made. One thing to remember is that a “Play” based learning environment does not mean a free for all. All of the interest areas in the classroom are designed for multiple layers of content areas such as, math, science and literacy (drawing, writing and reading). With a class of children aged three to five their are many levels of learning happening at once and each area needs to draw out the skills that are appropriate for not only the ages of the children but the developmental levels of each.
Social/ Emotional development is the primary focus of young children and is a life skill that young children will continue to develop into adulthood, yet the basics are really heavily dealt with in preschool. The goal in mind is to help children naturally develop the ability to speak for themselves, have opinions, learn how to understand their peers, gain empathy and be able to work in cooperative groups or individually in a productive way. I have been fortunate enough through the years to see that young children often times are more experienced and successful with cooperative group projects than older school aged children who are not given a choice and simply placed in groups to work “cooperatively”. At least in my experience preschool children have naturally formed those groups and have been successful. I believe one key aspect to their success has been an internal interest and shared goal. Without a shared goal and the willingness to work together those cooperative and productive groups would have had vastly different outcomes.
There are more skills and rules to learn when children are older and the goals and interests are often not theirs, which is true in life. However, I wish children all through their school career had a bit more autonomy when it comes to cooperative project work. I believe they loose that internal joy that is present when young as they grow older and choices are taken away from them and imposed by adults that have the attitude “I know better.” Of course this in not always the case and their are many more reasons and theories followed in schools as children grow older.
Small spaces can be used to the maximum benefit with the needs of the children always kept at the forefront of our minds as Teachers, Parents and Educators. 🙂
Heidi, Th Marigold School of Early Learning