When classroom materials are intentionally selected and organized, they have the power to provoke students' exploration, curiosity, thinking, communication, problem-solving, self-regulation, creativity, and can very well set the stage for lifelong learning.
According to Ontario's Full-Day Early Learning-Kindergarten Program (Draft Version 2010-11),
"Early Learning-Kindergarten teams should ensure that the learning environment is inclusive and that it is one in which children feel comfortable and safe, yet stimulated to learn and explore. The atmosphere the team creates is vital to the emotional development of the children. The environment should be one that encourages empathy, interest in trying new things, and the development of self-confidence (p. 35)."
What immediately jumps out at me when I read this excerpt, are the words "stimulated to learn and explore." It is my belief that it is vital to consider our learning environment, as well as the resources or materials found within the space that we create.
Some other advice when planning for the use of space, resources, and materials from FDEL-K Program (p. 36-37):
- keep visual displays at children's eye level
- provide a variety of materials and resources (familiar and novel, simple and complex) for children to explore, manipulate, and use, both in learning activities and in imaginative play
In our class we see five key stages of materials:
|"Children's nature collections breathe life into displays."|
-Mary Anne Rody
|Tactile experiences vary from child to child, nevertheless,|
the richness and variety of materials is an indispensable
characteristic when planning the environment for young
children (Ceppi & Zini, 1998, p. 77).
|"Have nothing in your classroom that you do not know |
to be useful or believe to be beautiful"
(Diller, 2008, p. 17, adapted from William Morris).
When materials are open-ended, they allow the possibilities of discovery and application of prior knowledge, as well as the formation of new knowledge.
What materials are you using to provoke thinking? We'd love to hear your thoughts!