25 August, 2012

The New Classroom

Whew!  We just finished our first week of school and I am pretty wiped out.  25 students is a big class!  They are a great group though, and my new partner and I have enjoyed getting to know them a little bit these past few days.

Presto!  Wall gone!
So here's the deal.  Last year I taught a class of 10 students in my own classroom.  The other PreK teacher's room was next door.  She also had a class of 10 students.  The classrooms were a little bit small.  Her room had a loft area, but no sink and mine, yes you guessed it, had a sink, but no loft area.  In order to reach the bathroom, her students had to walk through my room.  Both rooms were fine, but could have been so much better - if only we could combine the spaces.  Not thinking there was any possibility of this actually happening, we made our request figuring, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The school administrators agreed! 

At the end of school, the other teacher and I each shoved all of our stuff over to the sides of our respective spaces, covered everything with plastic sheeting and, with great anticipation, waited.

Over the summer, construction commenced and two weeks ago, we got back in to our new space.  We uncovered everything, moved it all out from the walls and went to work.  We made a huge mess.


We had two of everything, extra stuff left over from the teachers who were in the classrooms before we came, and just generally a lot of stuff.  It took us two whole weeks to sort through everything, and get it mostly organized.  We were, I must confess, mightily tired by the first day of school.  But we were pleased with our progress and THRILLED with the new bigger space. It is truly fabulous - and has access to the sink and the loft and the bathroom!  Everyone who comes in to see the room says, WOW! This is wonderful!  You are so lucky!  And we just grin and say, Yup.  : ) 

I don't have tons of pictures, but I do have a few.  Enjoy, and feel free to say, WOW!  We still do - every time we walk into the room.  

We now have a giant block area with two sets of wooden blocks, wooden vehicles, baskets of matchbox cars, dinosaurs, shells and stones, and my Waldorf-inspired wooden figures.  The whole area is, dare I say, awesome.





On one side of the block area is a repair shop.  My husband is building us a classroom work bench, but this table suffices nicely for now.  This is where children can repair wooden vehicles or blocks.  Loose screws, splintery wood, or broken parts can be fixed right up.  Currently it holds two Montessori-inspired screws and screw driver boards, tiny tools matching, sandpaper, and wood polish.  Oh, and of course, the all important safety glasses.





Busy and engaged children
We also have a well outfitted, Reggio-Emilia-inspired writing center.  It has colored and white paper, Montessori metal insets, punching materials and paper, colored pencils, magic markers, regular pencils, dry erase boards and markers, paper punches of varying sizes and shapes, alphabet stamps (upper and lower case) and ink pads, glue, and envelopes.  


Well stocked art shelves with baskets full of natural materials such as acorns, sweet gum tree gum balls, and kentucky coffee tree seeds stand on a side wall. These shelves also houses pipe cleaners, colored wire, ribbons and yarn, paper, popsicle sticks, tooth picks, beads, and cardboard tubes.  Oh, and all the snack items fit perfectly in the blue tub on the bottom shelf.  Excellent!


Here are the art shelves stocked with more traditional art materials such as watercolor paints, scissors, more markers, stamping markers, and chalk.


The new housekeeping area has two floors!  


On the lower floor is the wooden stove and sink piece, a dining table and chairs, dress up scarves, a cupboard to hold the dishes, and an area at which to make grocery lists and check the calendar.  It also houses the lower part of the telephone system!  Yes, that long black tube (which is zip tied onto the loft structure) reaches from the upper floor to the lower floor.  It is an excellent telephone system.  The children can hear each other even over the general classroom din and can even hear each other whisper!  I know because I have tried it out on various occasions.  : )




See the lower floor receiver, in the left corner of the picture?



The lower floor of the house is also equipped with various forms of doorbells.


The upper floor houses our classroom babies, their cradle, clothing, iron and ironing board, and our Waldorf arch and silk covering.  Inside the arch is also the most wonderful feeling sheep fleece.  It is so soft.  The children really like to sit on this and run their fingers through it.




This isn't the best picture and we are still working on sorting these materials, but we have a variety of manipulatives that the children may use first thing in the morning and after their rest time.  We will also be able to utilize these materials in other practical life, math, and science works, later in the year.  It is great to have so many materials readily at hand!


We also have a Science area . . .


a Practical Life area, a Sensory table, and a Reading Nook.  Some of these areas were in progress (read not ready and looking messy) when I took the photographs so I didn't include them here.  I will show them to you later in the semester.  

Where is the calendar, you ask?

We do have a very comprehensive calendar area.  It also wasn't quite finished the day I took these pictures.  It has lots of counting, patterning, writing, reading, and listening activities.  In order to do these justice, I will devote a separate post to this area later in the semester as well.



Whew!  So what do you think of our space so far?  We think it is fabulous and we hope our students do too.  : )