We are so excited to have another new teacher do our guest post this week! Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt is a grade 1/2 French Immersion teacher in our school district who graduated with us. She is so inspiring with her continuous strive to create the best classroom environment she can for her students and we are so excited that she was able to share the set up of her classroom here…
Environment. The one word that was on my mind since I received the BEYOND exciting phone call asking me if I would take a French Immersion Grade 1/2 position for the year at a lovely school in the Victoria School District. Yes, I thought about the children, the school setting, the curriculum… but the one thing I could not get off my mind was the learning environment in my new classroom.
I was non-stop daydreaming about my classroom.
How I was going to set it up?
What kind of environment I wanted to create?
What kind of objects for playing and learning with I would like to have?
…So many thoughts it became overwhelming. I then decided I needed to start tracking my ideas, so I bought a journal. I also registered for the Uvic Primary weeklong institute that focused on play and environment in the primary classroom. The course was an amazing start to my planning, preparations, and inspiring me to create my environment. For the rest of the summer I researched Reggio-Emilia (An Italian, play-based, approach to education) based environments, classrooms, preschool settings and of course, I ‘PINTERESTED’ non-stop for ideas.
After I started using the journal for brainstorming and lists, how I envisioned my classroom environment started to become clear. I knew I wanted a large carpet area for learning, moving, sharing, playing and inquiring. I hoped to create a quiet area, which had books, pillows, a cozy carpet, and family photo frames. I knew we needed an art inquiry nature based table, with art supplies and an art easel. And I imagined a writing center, with all different types of paper, stamps, pens, pencils, a word wall, a mailbox, etc. I also was insistent on having tables instead of desks. I like to encourage my students to do group work, share and inquire together. I also like that tables give us more space for moving and playing.
I also wanted to incorporate found and fallen nature objects, loose parts and natural toys in to my playing and inquiring areas. I created alphabet, people, and fruit rocks, painted sticks, I have fallen giant pinecones, and natural hand crafted wooden puzzles. I bought the wooden puzzles from the Moss Street and Sidney Summer Markets from Tidal Toys; a local Victoria company that specializes in hand crafted natural play items. The children love using all of the natural, colourful and inspiring materials.
Through my research on Reggio-Emilia based classrooms, I was noticing more and more ideas on making the classroom the children’s. Professionals who had focused on having the children create the posters, alphabet, calendar, and word wall in their rooms. I learned that it helped create a warm community environment, and helped foster ownership in our classroom. Again, I returned to my journal and started brainstorming objects I was planning to have my students make. Together, we have created an alphabet word wall, numbers, calendar, months of the year, schedule items for the board, bathroom magnet board. I noticed the children love creating parts of their classroom, and are continuously proud of their work.
The end of August was when my imagining, planning, and creating FINALLY came together. Along with the help of my wonderful friend, I spent my last week of summer at school creating the beginnings of ‘Our Environment’. Here are some snap shots of what my room looked prior to all my new 6 and 7 year old friends started exploring, creating, building and enjoying the space.
I also wanted to share a close up of my favourite spot in the classroom –our Nature Art Inquiry table. I change it about every week or so by bringing in beautiful and inspiring natural items. I’ve brought in: colourful flowers, leaves, rocks, sunflowers, gourds, pumpkins, and daffodil bulbs. Each week I also try to switch the art medium we use. We have experimented with markers, pencil crayons, pastels, different types of paint, sharpies, and the list goes on.
The word Environment is a very powerful part of my everyday teaching. I’ve read many articles and blogs that refer to Environment as the ‘Third Teacher.’ I am continuously looking for new ideas, photographs for inspiration and ways to improve the environment that we have been creating. I am a new teacher who is trying out different methods, experimenting with a variety of strategies, tools and materials. Some ideas have been extremely successful, while others have needed a quick adjustment or needed to be let go of. I would love to hear, see and learn about things other professionals are doing in their classrooms revolving around the idea of Environment.
I would like to thank my friends, Meaghan and Karley, for asking me to be part of their AMAZING blog. They help keep me inspired, energetic and always make me smile with the incredible work they are doing and sharing through this method of communication and reflection. Merci les filles! ❤