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An Inviting Learning Space - The Classroom

Organizing and changing the classroom to suit what is being taught, in a fun and interesting manner, helps one feel comfortable and prepared for when the children walk in, it is a task I really love!

I want the room to look inviting and interesting when the children walk in. I also want it to be different from time to time, even if it is in small ways. Having taught a range of subjects, my classroom always reflected what was to be explored and learned in that space at that time.

As a Foundation Phase teacher, my classroom reflected all the different subjects and had many interest areas. The reading corner, had books to read for fun, and books related to Environmental Studies (similar to Lifeskills) topics. There were also phonics games, and other language related games. In those days, we had a junction box and headphones, at a small table in the area, where a maximum of 6 children could listen to a story at the same time. Sometimes for fun and sometimes these listening activities related to the week's work. What about using a junction box today! There was a dress up section for role-play and story making, which contained clothes, costumes and props for the children to choose from.

There would be a maths area, with maths games, problem solving activities and some practical tasks. These activities were changed during the term. There was a sand table or a water table on the corridor or outside for the children to use, with measuring equipment and empty containers for the children to play with. Inside the classroom was a play shop, with play-play money, and items to sell and buy.

An environmental area, to display items related to environmental studies, these items changed regularly during the year. They maybe fragrances and textual items to identify. Items may even be placed in a "feel-ly" bag, for children to identify objects using their sense of touch! Information about animals or plants, sometimes with real examples, was also included.Tasks where given for the children to use and explore the various items, in their free time or as part of a lesson. Some years there was a little creature in the room, such as a fish in a bowl, a bird, or maybe a hamster or mouse. This area would be used to teach the children to care for small creatures.

General information areas such as a class birthday calendar (remember to include all your children's names), notices and information where interestingly displayed. A weather area, with a daily weather board that children could change. Children discuss the date and the weather being experienced. A national pride area containing the national flag, and the various national emblems, the coat of arms and perhaps the national anthem.

All these items make the classroom a warm and stimulating place for the learners to work in.

When I taught history, that classroom had items relevant to the subject. Posters were displayed related to the topics being taught. There was a reading area, with books about the topic. Web links were displayed with tear off strips of the websites. On the smart board, websites relating to the lesson's content were opened that children could observe or play in during the lesson, either as part of a research activity or as an extension task. These tasks could be used by all children, to enhance their learning or reinforce knowledge by developing understanding.

When I taught Zulu in a primary school, the classroom walls had the aspects of the language being taught that week, as children from various grades were taught in the room, the content was divided into the different grades. Each grade's work was colour coded, for easy identification by the children. Other generic displays which were relevant to all children such as a weather information area, days of the week, months of the year where displayed in Zulu, with vivid images for visual understanding. There were areas showing the traditional dress, culture and traditional homes. There were also traditional pottery items, dolls, models of homesteads, and so on. To make the learning meaningful and relevant to the subject being taught.

The design and technology classroom, is more static, in that tools are stored in cupboards and those areas can't be move, but the information around the room should be relevant. Safety instructions should be displayed. Information about use and types of tools. Other areas could be changed as the different knowledge areas are taught, for example when doing processing information about the manufacture and processing of materials. Actual products could be on display. When teaching mechanisms display information about the mechanism being taught, for example gears, types of gears, examples of where gears are being used in actual products.

Web links, on the interactive board showing the components or products. Video clips could be available for the children to watch, either as part of a class activity or as an extension activity when all the work has been completed.

The IT or computer room would have posters about safety, and information about the actual computer.

The classroom environment should be a stimulating and engaging space for the children to work in. During the year, the room's information should be changed regularly to suit what is being taught!

Enjoy making your teaching space relevant, exciting and stimulating so that the children want to learn, want to be in the room. Interacting with the various tasks and observing relevant visual stimuli! Make your classroom a "learning home", where the children want to be!

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