“Play. It brings joy. It is within this context that learning can occur.” – Kyle Snow, Ph.D.
Early childhood environments should foster both fun and safety; a place where we balance freedom of expression with fundamentals of good behavior. Here are some suggestions on how to give students room to play and room to focus:
Room to Play!
Have a corner of your room set up to be lounge ready. Soft seating pieces, like our Blossom Soft Seating Set, give students room to relax and get creative. Studies show that kids prefer to lay on their stomachs when they read and kick their legs loose. “On the ground” seating is another alternative for giving kids the freedom of floor while reminding them of boundaries.
Room to Focus!
Activity tables and collaborative desks, like our Cloud 9 Desks, let classrooms easily configure into different formations. Organize students by task, capabilities, or learning pace for a more efficient learning environment.
Room to Move!
Mobile storage easels and storage carts, like our Mobile Lap Board Teacher Easel, are such a go-to solution for early learning environments. Dry erase surfaces provide a portable marker board and integrated storage tubs help teachers organize supplies and teaching materials. It can easily be moved from reading corners to learning centers, making it multi-purpose.
Room to Store!
Storage carts don’t take up much space, but they do provide ample space for storage! Keep supplies and learning materials organized and safe by placing them into a Mobile Tub Storage Cart. The built-in casters make classroom configurations effortless!
“Science is a way of thinking, much more than it is a body of knowledge.” – Carl Sagan
The Science Lab
A place to explore, get excited, and discover! The space requires versatility, natural light, and room for the mind and body to move. As for the layout? Here are a few suggestions to help the lab run smoothly and encourage students to maximize their time and minds during this exciting period in school!
An efficient lab must be flexible to accommodate all branches of science. The use of non-fixed and lightweight furniture makes it easy to rearrange a class and create a fluid lab that can be altered as needed.
Flipper tables are easily adjusted in height. Create a tiered classroom to ensure everyone has direct eye contact with the instructor. Want to reconfigure the room? No worries! Flipper Tables come with casters and easily fold and nest to create open space in the classroom.
Science labs require a variety of equipment and tools. A well-planned storage system makes finding equipment a snap. When tools are easy to find, more class time can be dedicated to lessons and learning, which is what every teacher strives for. Our Makerspace Mobile Tubs feature smooth rolling tambour doors and sleek 3″ skate casters for easy maneuverability.
Students get distracted easily and having interesting imagery, or using the walls as projection surfaces will keep them engaged. Adapting your lab to make this possible is a step in the right direction. The Sharewall Spline Wall is a fully trimmed panel system that can be mounted from wall to wall. The magnetic dry-erase surface is easy to write on and erase, and the seamless design creates a smooth, singular writing surface.
“Teachers who love teaching, teach children to love learning.” – Robert John Meehan
The school year is almost over and teachers are more than ready for a break. The teachers’ lounge has been a hot topic of debate for for a while. Are they worth having? Are they gossip pools? Has technology and high performance curriculums taken over the lounge? Studies show that teachers’ lounges actually reinforce the spirit of community amongst educators as well as recharge tired minds. Lounges help teachers reengage in everyday topics with their peers, and also disconnect from the daily classroom routine. The key to a functional teachers’ lounge? Make it feel like home! Here are some ideas on how to make the teachers’ lounge an inviting and safe environment for teachers:
We call them soft for a reason! Sofas, futons, booths and poufs. Add one or add them all, teachers don’t just want to sit, they want to relax in the teachers’ lounge. Nothing beats comfortable soft seating pieces when creating restful spaces to relax in.
Tables for All
Tables in the lounge will be used for a number of different tasks: eating, working on a laptop, grading papers, or reading books. Play with tables of different shapes and sizes to make the room flexible and unique.
Accents & Accessories
Finish your room with fun and homey accents: pictures, graphics, warm colored fabrics, and foliage. Add technology support, like charging stations, to ensure that the lounge is not only comfortable, but functional and practical as well.
Over the last decade, classroom environments and schools have focused on collaborative learning. Furniture companies have prioritized their research, design and production resources into developing furniture that fosters Collaboration. We all know the benefits are indisputable. Creative thinking leads to challenging thinking and open communication, establishing a trusting and safe environment in which students mentor and learn from one another. All of this is achieved by a masterful configuration of a few desks and chairs and a solid curriculum.
More recently, many schools and educators have taken it a step further. They believe Collaborative Learning is the gateway for students to develop a sense of community. The sense of being part of, participating, engaging and contributing, not only within the confines of their classroom setting, but also in the every day aspects of their lives. Emotional intelligence is now part of our report cards, and positive social engagement is expected.
More and more schools incorporate activities that involve their students in the process. Planting green gardens, recycling materials, and even opening the doors after school hours for community programs. Renovations and new constructions now involve parents and students, they want them to feel like part of the Community.
Orangewood School: A Case Study in
Let’s look at Orangewood School in Phoenix, a school dear to our hearts. Two years ago Dr. Dianna Boone and Mrs. Catherine Switzer approached us seeking support to develop their under budget STEM program and freshen up their art classroom. We worked together for months, from the space planning phase through the final installations. We made sure we covered all needs based on the sizes of the rooms and age group as well, ultimately opening the doors to a fresh and easy to configure environment in which collaborative learning was at its best.
I had the privilege of visiting their facility last fall to follow up with Dianna and personally chat with students about our furniture. Little would I have guessed how Collaboration would become Community and the spirit of learning would become heightened to the spirit of living life fully. By now, the robotics program was established from 1st to 8th grade and our “room” was also used for Gifted and Talented kids.
I enjoyed hearing how the students helped assemble the furniture and came in after school hours to do so. I learned that parents helped with installations. I was delighted to watch a group of 8th graders work together on writing a letter asking for donations to fund their trip to a robotics championship. Another grade had won a championship after our “robotics” room was in full operation. I loved to hear how Dianna and her colleagues not only walk with students in the morning to promote a healthy lifestyle but do so on weekends as well. How gratifying to learn that we transcended the responsibility of applying grade curriculum into the spirit of Community.
You see, students at this school and in many others are viewed as citizens. They are coached daily to be the best they can be, not only academically, but as part of the world they live in.
I leave you with the question asked to a group of 15 gifted and talented 1st graders at Orangewood. They were asked if they thought it was genetics or the environment that made them smarter.