Why Less Really IS More

These past 2 weeks have been a real learning experience for me. As I tried to make more room for documentation by removing the furniture and storage from the walls in the classroom, I quickly came to the conclusion that I was going to have to take away many of the materials that were accessible to the children in the room.  And I felt kind of guilty about it. I was afraid that if I removed materials, the children would be less creative and less innovative with the things that they made.

Boy, did they ever prove me wrong. As empty space began to define the room, it felt more airy and less congested. They responding to this by becoming quieter and discovered new empty spaces to sit and read books with each other.

I gave them only one type of paper and glue in an art center and the torn paper collage they made was far beyond what I had expected.  In the past I had given them a range of papers and scissors and the result was that much of what they cut up was simply strewn over the table and the floor.

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The bulletin board is now available for documentation. The counters are filled with their pine cone letters. The torn paper collage took place on the easels.

Many children became interested in collage this week because one child had made a collage from natural loose parts she had collected outside. Leaves, small stones, twigs, and juniper buds eventually became slides, chairs and beds in a tiny forest home, pictured below.

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Other children set to work finding pine cones outside and then hot gluing them to pieces of cardboard. They requested stones and began to make letters and insects. They requested materials and then used materials purposefully, carefully organizing their materials according to their plans.

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The addition of small stones inspired some children to make insects. They found seed pods outside for wings and asked for some sticks to make legs.

I’ve realized I need to remove materials when they aren’t being used in a purposeful way anymore. This will leave room in the space for more materials.

It will also leave room for me to think more deeply about how children are using materials and make the process of pedagogical documentation easier.

Here are a few more photos.

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I am still reflecting on this ocean provocation. I think I set out too many materials to start. Some made small worlds with the materials but some materials, like the driftwood, were left untouched. The sensory play with the sand was what they enjoyed the most. Next time, I’ll try just sand, a shell, and the Hello Ocean book. 
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The wall is now available for documentation. I’ve since removed the small blue couch and replaced it with a writing table. It became a popular area, as you can see below.

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I’m still experimenting and reflecting about what and how much to set out. Letting go, trying some new things, reflecting on what has happened, and thinking about what might be possible — this is why I’ve learned so much these past couple of weeks.

The journey continues. Let me know what YOU think of the changes I’ve made.

Cathy 🙂

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Cathy Baker View All →

Dedicated teacher for the past 15 years. Lifelong learner. Newbie blogger. Follow me on Twitter @Baker1973Cathy

2 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Aviva,

    Yes. The running became a bit of an issue last week. We talked and wrote about it at our meeting and it seems to have resolved somewhat. I’m going to see if the solution is a break outside mid morning for a run around. I usually go outside in the afternoon this year.

    The hot glue guns? I give a small safety talk when they come out and they give the same safety talk to each other as new people want to join in. I think this was the most I’ve ever had out at once (four) but the table was quite large and we used extension cords to spread them out. Also, there weren’t too many materials for them to glue. The most anyone did was get a bit of glue on their finger. They picked it right off. I would say they had the glue guns out for a few hours on both Thursday and Friday and by Friday morning, there wasn’t much more safety talk, they were using them independently and carefully.

    Cathy😊

  2. Cathy, I’m a big believer in “less is more.” I wonder about some of the open spaces in your room. Do you find that children are running? Paula and I are always trying to balance the value in space with the addition of a few materials to cut down on the running. The hot glue guns also intrigue me. This is something that we’ve never used with kids. There’s been some conflicting views on them. I’m just wondering if you needed to give them any support, or if they were able to use them independently. We really try not to be tied to any one table or space, so support with these hot glue guns could be problematic. Any information that you or others could give would be great! I love your constant reflection.

    Aviva

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