Setting up the Physical Environment
of the Environment:
Before you set up your classroom you need to evaluate
the environment that you have available to work with.
The following characteristics according to Gestwicki (1999) are essential
to make an environment developmentally appropriate.
and hardness: There should be a
balance between the hard and soft surfaces in the classroom. All hard surfaces will be harmful to both the adults and
children in the classroom. Provide
a variety of tactile stimulants in your environment.
closed: Open environment and
materials promote creativity and independence among children (these are
materials that children can manipulate however they want to).
However too much of an open environment may promote too much movement
within the classroom which may lead to accidents.
There should also be a limited supply of closed materials which have only
one way of being manipulated (e.g. puzzles).
Some portions of the environment should be closed to foster focused and
and seclusion: The environment
should have areas that promote peer interaction and areas that foster individual
safety: The classroom should
encourage the children to feel confident in attempting tasks that might be risky
(as perceived by them) but the teacher needs to make sure that it safe to do so.
rich environment: Make sure all the
materials are clearly labeled. Donít
use just words to label the objects in your class, glue a picture of the object
by the word so that children will get an additional clue to recognizing the
The learning centers are areas in classroom around
which the curriculum primarily depends on.
It is these centers that invite the children to explore and learn.
They are known by several names ie., interest centers, discovery
stations, learning areas, and learning stations.
The number of learning centers that you can have depends on the
philosophy of your program, space, and number of children in your classroom.
Teachers can plan a variety of activities within each learning center.
Each of the learning centers should have a clear purpose, description and
details about how it works. Some
centers have the above information posted in each of the centers to inform
parents and visitors as to what is being done.
Interest centers need not be limited to indoor spaces, it could also be
done in the outside space.
Some programs plan on each center accommodating between 4-6 children in
each large learning center, so if you plan to have 20 children in your class,
you should have atleast five large learning centers.
You could also have several smaller learning centers in your class that
are more or less like permanent fixtures. Some
of the large learning centers are:
of the smaller centers are:
As mentioned earlier the number of centers in your
class is dependent on the program philosophy, available space, and number of
children. Before setting up the
learning centers take a survey of the permanent fixtures in your classroom
because you will have to work around these limitations.
Some of the permanent fixtures to document for include: doors, window,
sink, room dividers, and closets. Some
ideas for placing the different centers are:
around the door can be used for childrenís cubbies.
Do not place a high activity (e.g. block center) center by the door.
is a sink in your class, it would be convenient to place the art center by it.
If you plan to have a cooking activity, pulling a table by sink will be
reading/library area by the window. You could also set up the science center by
the window to facilitate growth of plants.
active center by a slow/quieter center, this will prevent you from having all
quiet areas in one part of the class and all the noisy centers in the other
have a relatively flat and open area for your block center.
dividers or shelves to divide centers, and store materials for the centers.
of the learning centers require tables place them in the centers in such a way
that they do not black the traffic
having all your tables in one location of your classroom
having large open spaces in your class, for they encourage running in the
traffic pathways should be clearly marked and wide enough to prevent pushing and
not have to have all the learning centers going at the same time constantly, you
can rotate centers according to the theme.
your classroom does not have to stay the same forever, observe how the children
use the space and centers, if your arrangement is not working for this group of
children, change the layout to better meet their needs and interest.
This will help ease a lot of stress for you and the children.
self-monitoring tools in each of the centers that allow the children to regulate
the number of children in each of the centers (to prevent overcrowding).
Velcro figures, clothespins, room to hang a specified number of name tags
will help facilitate the monitoring process.
how you set up the centers, you should be able to see the children from any spot
in the class room. Try not to
create spaces in the class where children may be unmonitored.
the Learning Centers:
Children are constantly learning through play.
So it becomes important to equip your learning materials not with just
toys, but with materials that will promote self-learning among the children.
Given below are some of the materials you might consider equipping each
of your learning centers with.
Arts and Crafts
tables and chairs, drying rack, low shelves to store child accessible art
supplies, like different sizes of papers, crayons, markers, glue, collage
materials, stencils, stamps, scissors, playdough, yarn and fabrics, and
smocks. Shelves at a higher
level to store adult accessible art supplies like paints, water colors,
pastels, craypas, brushes, paint containers, chalk, glue, material for
sponge and block painting, and other types of paint applicators
wooden blocks of different shapes and sizes, cardboard blocks, accessories
and props to go with block construction (cars, airplanes, trains, people
figures, traffic signs, miniature household articles), open space to
conducive to construction, low level shelves to store blocks (these must
be labeled), appropriately labeled storage containers to store the props.
household equipment, and furniture,(i.e., miniature pretend cooking range,
sink, washer and dryer, cupboards etc.) selection of menís and womenís
clothes, full length mirror, telephones, dolls of different ethnicity,
sizes and colors, pretend food, and produce, cooking and eating utensils.
You can section off a portion of the dramatic play area and display
thematic prop boxes to go with the theme.
shelves at the childrenís eye level (be sure to display the books with
the front of the book jacket facing the children), variety of books (books
about other ethnicities, diverse families), puppets and book extension
activities, comfortable seating arrangement and pillows.
and chairs, low shelves with containers of labeled manipulatives, puzzles,
counting, sorting and classifying games, and counters.
instruments and appropriate storage area, record player, tape recorder,
and CD player (depending on which audio visual aids you frequently use),
headsets, records, tapes, and CDs, props to go with the music and adequate
storage area for the same.
glass, microscope, balance, magnets, pets, display area, books related to
the current theme, plants, and areas for children to display their
Large motor center
to have only one large motor equipment, either a climbing, balancing, or
lifting materials. If you
decide to have a climbing equipment make sure you have adequate support
around the equipment to prevent injuries due to fall.
and chairs, stationary and writing tools, stencils, stamps, type writer,