One Sunflower

“being” in space

on October 22, 2010

My students are settling in, their little idiosyncracies are becoming more evident and I find my patience waning when my littlest prince is once more crawling under the lunch room table.  The whispering voice of my CLASS training has become a mantra in my head about maintaining a positive environment and strengthening relationships.  Hugs all around – even if I’m about to get smeared with ketchup!

One way I’m trying to support relationships is by encouraging my students to manipulate the classroom environment as they play with their peers.  My pie-shaped classroom has 6 defined spaces this year – easel painting, house-keeping, blocks, sensory table, library, circle time/puzzle space.  There are also 3 nebulous spaces in the room where there are tables and materials close by that could be used at the tables – or on the floor. These materials include play dough, manipulatives, art supplies.  Now that I have linoleum across the entire classroom, I don’t feel so protective of carpet so I let the children take the play dough and paint to which ever table they want to.  I’ve had a few children “baking” the play dough in our house-keeping hutch.  I also chose to put a table in the block area this year having witnessed the difference it made in play last year when I did it for a little while.

The manipulations happen around me on a daily – more often minute-ly basis.

One group of children will set up a picnic in the circle time area and then when the groups switch out for PE, a completely different scenario will move in.  The groups include some existing friendships and a mixture of wills and temperaments but I am seeing some new relationships and play strategies.

I’ve encouraged my students to freely choose what they want to play with and then I park myself in their arena and support conversation, play themes, decision-making and problem solving.

(getting babies ready for a trip to Wal-Mart)

I do have some students choosing to play with the same items every day: two boys choose the school buses and another student goes to the sensory table exclusively.  I’ve closed the table occasionally just to see what else he’ll do and who he plays with.  I think I’m about ready to put the buses away for a while too – only because I know those boys are ready to move on – and I want to encourage them to play differently for awhile.

I’ll probably change my groups out soon too – because I’m thinking of adding some focus group activities to our choice time and I want to have some skill oriented sessions.

So far, so good – I survived this week despite having a cold and feeling very responsible to be at school because Maestra, my aide, was in Mexico for the week.  It’s Friday and my head is less stuffy.  Maestra will be back on Tuesday with a tan, and I’ll be breathing more easily – thanks to my Zicam and her return!

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