Sunday, July 27, 2008

Classroom *Before*...and Furniture Tips

Here's a peek at what I'll be working with as I set up my kindergarten classroom this week... call it a "before" slideshow (yes, I'll post some "after" shots soon!):

I'll try to wrap up the sorting and organizing on Monday so that I can start preparing my staple boards for displays (calendar, posters, curriculum materials, etc.) as I won't be able to situate my furniture until the carpets have been shampooed and are dry.

If *you're* ready to arrange your furniture, here are a few things to remember:

~ Kindergarten students use space, lots and lots of it. They will not be sitting in chairs at desks very often, but will lay across the floor assembling puzzles or building with blocks...they will stand at the art easel to paint, they will play dress up in an area designated for dramatic play...they will make a unifix cube "snake" the length of the room either across the floor or across desks, and they'll interact with one another by walking from center to center (activity areas) to talk with friends, make suggestions, or satisfy their curiosity. A balance between the amount of furniture and the amount of wide open "free" space needs to occur. Too much furniture, and the children can't move. Too little furniture, and the kids will RUN.

~ There are safety issues that will affect where you place furniture in your room.

  • * In Alaska, earthquakes were a threat, so student's desks couldn't be placed near the windows, and had to be situated closely enough that students could climb under them to avoid items falling from above. Tornadoes, neighborhood violence, gusting winds, etc. are all elements that can make windows in your classroom dangerous.

  • * Fire exits cannot be blocked. Alternate fire exits could be windows or doors. No furniture or decor should prevent your students' safe and timely exit from the room.

  • * Your room might have movable cabinetry or free standing file cabinets and bookshelves. Sit at your desk and examine the height of the furniture. If you can't see over it, it should not be placed as a divider between centers blocking your view. You need to be able to see the students from any and all vantage points in the classroom. I place too-tall bookshelves and file cabinets against walls for stability and so I can see them clearly- after all, they are climbing and tipping hazards.

  • * Shelving and cabinetry should be neat and organized, utilizing tubs or baskets when necessary. With practice, cleaning up after activities will become intuitive and natural for your students. Remember to store items that students should use ONLY with your supervision up and away.

  • * Area rugs are helpful in visually marking areas (reading time, the math manipulative area, etc.), compliment the decor and provide comfort, and can even be used as a learning aids (ABC carpets, a number theme...) but need to meet fire safety codes. Find out from your principal or grade level partner what types of carpets can be used before purchasing.

~ Kindergarten furniture is short. Make sure you leave enough area around furniture and into centers that you, visiting parents or volunteers, and other teachers or aides can move easily without repeatedly bruising your knees and shins. If you have height-adjustable tables, make sure they aren't too tall or too short. Using the students' chairs as a guide should help.


I hope you're enjoying the remainder of your summer break!

1 comment:

  1. I teach 5th grade. I can't wait to see the room when it's done.


As always, thank you for your comments, tips, suggestions and questions!