Intentionally Designed Environments: Pictures of Classrooms

journeyintoearlychildhood.com Intentionally Designed EnvironmentsWOW! Teachers in the Union Public Schools in Tulsa, OK are incredible. I recently had the opportunity to visit some of their classrooms. They so graciously allowed me to take pictures to share with you the intentionality of their classroom design.

The environment in which children spend their day at school needs to support developmentally appropriate practices that allow children to freely move, to explore with hands-on opportunities, to engage in dramatic play experiences, to build social/emotional skills, and to develop their symbolic thinking and cognitive flexibility among others.

Learning theories from constructivism to social learningintentional design of environments journeyintoearlychildhood.com
to experiential learning underscore the importance of
active and inquiry-based learning, knowledge construction
through interaction with the environment, social contexts
and meaningful experiences.

-“Most Influential Theories of Learning,” Unesco Education

 

Intentional Design for hands-on exploration while encouraging symbolic thinking, problem solving, and cognitive flexibility.

 

Intentionally Designed Art Centers that encourage the process of art instead of the product,  and free exploration of creative ideas instead of template art.

 

Intentional Design of the Classroom Aesthetics so that the students can live and breathe in a beautiful space. Use of natural colors as we use in our homes for a calming effect.

Intentional Design of Student Contributions, the classroom belongs to the students. It should be a reflection of the students instead of the teachers passions or “cutesy/pinteresty” type themes.

Intentional Design to Include Dramatic Play. Students require dramatic play experiences to build executive functioning skills.

Cozy Corner/ Safe Spot Strategies

Designing a Cozy Corner (or Safe Spot):

A cozy corner or safe spot is a place in the classroom in which students can relax, calm their minds and bodies, and gather themselves back together to be ready to learn. It is a place in the classroom that is calming and that has a low sensory load. The use of the cozy corner must be taught at times when students are in zone of being ready to learn. We cannot teach students during times of dysregulated behaviors. Therefore, practice when to use the safe spot and what to do there before emotional dysregulation occurs.  For specific ideas of teaching the use of a cozy corner/safe spot, see Cozy Corner Feeling Board and Strategies.Journey into Early Childhood Cozy Corner Strategies and How to Set Up the Corner Effectively

Key Considerations:

1. Choose an area of the classroom that is out of the mainstream of traffic but that is also visible by the teacher at all times

2. Choose an area that feels cozy (some children like a tighter feel in order to calm down) but also make sure that the area has more than one exit (children who have experienced trauma will not be able to calm down in an area in which they feel trapped)

3. Soft furniture- add some softness to the area even if it is just a couple of pillows.

4. Be mindful of the colors that you use (this is true for the entire classroom as well.) Natural colors led to a sense of calm. Remove the bright primary colors- use them only to help a learning concept pop out.Deep Breath Free Download journeyintoearlychildhood.com

5. Items to add: sensory bottles (see journeyintoearlychildhood.com for directions), fidget toys and a couple of books on emotions or friendship, a Take Deep Breaths Board (free download), Teaching Deep Breathing to Calm the Mind and Body, and the Cozy Corner Feeling Board and Strategies).

6. Be mindful of aromas as they are often triggers for children who have experienced trauma, but you can try a sachet with lavender since it is calming scent.

Variety of Ways to Teach Deep Breathing journeyintoearlychildhood.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. The Cozy Corner or Safe Spot needs to feel safe! It is not a time-out or removal from classroom activities. It is a spot to de-stress and work on getting the mind and body calm and happy or at least, content.

7. Ask the student if they would like to take a break in the cozy corner or safe spot. Do not leave them there alone- make sure to go to them to follow-up and teach (not tell) the needed social skill or strategy.

8. Gift the student with your calm. Do not show anger, frustration, or crankiness. Model slow, easy breathing and calm, even voice.

9. Ask first before you touch a student.

10. Follow up with role-playing, modeling and LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of guided practice of appropriate social skills.

11. Teach deep breathing with cue cards (flower/candle, owl, bunny, bear, etc. as listed in the document or STAR breathing from Conscious Discipline).   Be mindful of colors (natural is best)- remove bright primary colors.

12. Again- this is a spot to feel safe- not to be reprimanded or punished. It is a place to talk through behaviors and learn/practice skills and strategies needed. Think connection- not correction. Think – “How can I teach the skill needed?”

 

Greeting Students Each and Every Day

TOP 10 Reasons Why to Greet Students at the Door  Each and Every Morning

Daily Greetings- The Importance of Greeting Your Students Each Day journeyintoearlychildhood.com
• Provides a smile and a reassurance that the teacher is glad the student came to school today, which sets the tone for a positive day
• Promotes a strong relationship between the teacher and student
Enhances a positive classroom climate
• Provides a moment of connection when you greet them by name- young children love to hear their name – let’s use them in positive statements
• Assists children with letting go of issues that may have occurred on the bus or at home- they are being welcomed to a new start to the day
• Promotes a sense of belonging and trust that school is a safe place
• Provides social and emotional support
• Demonstrates and models of how to greet others, how to use kind words, and how to be respectful
• Provides a proactive, preventive technique to reduce challenging behaviors
• Starts the day for the teacher with LOTS of smiles and positive interactions!

Tips:

  • Greetings must be delivered with sincerity and genuine care for the students. If you rush through greetings, the students will not feel valued or respected which may lead to challenging behavior.
  • Use the student’s names
  • Provide options that include touching as well as include no touching to meet the needs of all students
  • Use eye contact

FREE DOWNLOAD journeyintoearlychildhood.com

Click here for two versions of greetings

Click here for additional versions of greetings

 

(note: If you send me an email stating that you have signed up to receive my blog each week, I will send you the seven different versions for free.)

American Symbols

As President’s Day draws near, we expose young children to the role of the president as well as two of our most honored presidents, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington. At this time of the year, we also think about exposing our children to the American Symbols. Our youngest learners are introduced to many universal symbols such as a STOP sign, logos for gender on bathroom doors, a handicap parking only sign, etc. that are required for good citizenship. Some symbols children learn through daily routines and experiences and some require more time along with intentional planning on the part of the teacher, such as the American symbols.

American Symbols Provocations and Challenges journeyintoearlychildhood.comIt is important for young children to begin to explore the American symbols to build patriotism and pride in their country, to provide a sense of belonging to a bigger place, and to communicate the ideals of the United States.

The American Symbols document provides pictures of the American symbols, USA flag, liberty bell, the statue of liberty, and bald eagle as well as other famous USA governmental buildings and memorials to be posted in the block/construction center and/or the art/creation center to encourage children to recreate them. Ideas of materials to include in the construction center, as well as extensions for literacy including two poems and math,  are included.

 

note: Send an email to journeyintoearlychildhood.com letting me know that you have signed up to receive my bi-weekly to weekly blog post and I will send you the American Symbols document for free.

Incorporating Intentional Teaching of SEL throughout the Day

Intentional Teaching of SEL journeyintoearlychildhood.com

To be intentional means to act purposefully with a goal in mind and to have a plan for accomplishing it.

Intentional teachers set up experiences where they present information, model skills, and guide the learning toward a specific developmental standard or learning target.

BELLY BREATHING art:                                                               (teaching how to take deep breaths during a small group art project)

Straw Painting

  • Place a piece of paper in a tin cake pan.
  • Squirt some paint on the paper.
  • The student takes a deep breath in through their nose (pretending to smell a flower).
  • The students blows out through their mouth and the straw blowing around the paint.

Social Studies:                                                                                                                            Sounds Around Us/ RULES FOR LISTENING

  • After completing a lesson on how to sit at circle time- body calm by having a quiet voice, listening ears and eyes that are watching:
    • Take children on a listening walk
    • During the walk, cue children by saying, “Body Calm.”
    • Students stop and hug their bodies.
    • Point to your lips, the corner of your eye and cup your ears.
    • Students remain quiet to listen.
    • Call on a student to tell you what he/she hears.
    • Ask, “Is it a noise made by people? A machine? Or an animal?”

Moving to the music/beat during gross motor/ HOW OUR BODIES FEEL with DIFFERENT EMOTIONS:

Following a lesson on how our bodies feel when we are feeling:

  1. Brainstorm ways our bodies would move to music that is sad (slow, 60bpm music such as Baroque), excited or worried (fast temp, lively), angry (hard beat) and ready to learn (classical, New Age or alphabet or number song)
  2. Play the different types of music in the gross motor room and move to the beat.

Nurture a Community of Kindness

KINDNESS CLASS PROJECT

When children give each other a compliment or perform an act of kindness, they can tie a ribbon, bead, or other objects on a heart, a dream catcher, or a big piece of cross fencing.

KINDNESS CHECK-OUT TICKET

At the end of the day have each student write or draw on a sticky note a compliment to another student. You can have the students give any compliment or have them focus on the specific social skill being taught that week.

gif_120The students can also share the compliment of another student during an end-of-the-day class meeting.