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