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Rubric Name: Assignment 8 Rubric

This table lists criteria and criteria group name in the first column. The first row lists level names and includes scores if the rubric uses a numeric scoring method.Criteria

Exemplary

Satisfactory

Unsatisfactory

Unacceptable

Part 1: Art-Based Centers Nurture Creative Expression

20 points

The student provides a clear explanation of how art-based centers nurture creative expression.

15 points

The student provides a mostly clear explanation of how art-based centers nurture creative expression.

10 points

The student provides a weak or unclear explanation of how art-based centers nurture creative expression.

0 points

The student does not provide an explanation of how art-based centers nurture creative expression.

/ 20

Part 2: Adapting Art-Based Centers

30 points

The student provides a clear description of how teachers must adapt art-based centers for toddlers through fourth grade.

20 points

The student provides a mostly clear description of how teachers must adapt art-based centers for toddlers through fourth grade.

10 points

The student provides a weak or unclear description of how teachers must adapt art-based centers for toddlers through fourth grade.

0 points

The student does not provide a description of how teachers must adapt art-based centers for toddlers through fourth grade.

/ 30

Part 3: Managing a Center- Based Environment

30 points

The student provides a clear discussion of techniques teachers can use to manage a center-based environment in the creative classroom.

20 points

The student provides a mostly clear discussion of techniques teachers can use to manage a center-based environment in the creative classroom.

10 points

The student provides a weak or unclear discussion of techniques teachers can use to manage a center-based environment in the creative classroom.

0 points

The student does not provide a discussion of techniques teachers can use to manage a center-based environment in the creative classroom.

/ 30

Mechanics – Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling

5 points

Student makes no errors in grammar, punctuation, or spelling that distract the reader from the content.

4 points

Student makes 1-2 errors in grammar, punctuation, or spelling that distract the reader from the content.

2 points

Student makes 3-4 errors in grammar, punctuation, or spelling that distract the reader from the content.

0 points

Student makes more than 4 errors in grammar, punctuation, or spelling that distract the reader from the content.

/ 5

Writing Style – Organization, Transitions, Tone

5 points

The assignment is written with excellent organization, thoughtful transitions, and the appropriate tone.

4 points

This writing assignment is adequately organized, but has some errors in the transitions or the tone.

2 points

This writing assignment is poorly organized, or it contains ineffective transitions and/or inappropriate tone.

0 points

This writing assignment displays little to no organization or transitions, and/or does not use the appropriate tone.

/ 5

APA Format – Margins, Font, Spacing, Headings and cover page.

5 points

The margins, font, spacing, headings, and cover page are all formatted properly.

4 points

There are 1-2 errors in the formatting of the margins, font, spacing, headings, or cover page.

2 points

There are 3-4 errors in the formatting of the margins, font, spacing, headings, or cover page.

0 points

There are more than 4 errors in the formatting of the margins, font, spacing, headings, or cover page.

/ 5

APA Format – Citations and References

5 points

All sources used for quotes and facts are credible and cited, and the references and in-text citations are all properly formatted. Each reference has an in-text citation and in-text citation has a reference.

4 points

All sources used for quotes and facts are credible and cited, but slight errors are present in the format of the in-text citations or references. Or there may be one in-text citation or reference missing.

2 points

Some sources used for quotes and facts are either not credible or there are significant errors in the in-text citations and/or references. Or there are multiple missing in-text citations or references.

0 points

The sources used for quotes and facts are not credible and/or not cited. The in-text citations and/or references are not present.

/ 5

Total

Lesson 7

Theoretical and Research Base: Creative Learning Environments

The work of Urie Bronfenbrenner (2004), Maria Montessori (1909, 1964), Loris Malaguzzi (1995), and Lev Vygotsky (1967, 1978), among others, provide important insights into creative environments that engage all children. Following is a brief statement of each of these theorists’ assumptions about the influence of the environment on children’s creativity and how their theories might look in early childhood classrooms.

Bronfenbrenner

From Bronfenbrenner we learn about the important interactions of many environments, such as the family, school, neighborhood, peers, and media that are all connected and influence not only one another but also the developing child. His theory provides one way to view the effects of the social contexts of children’s lives on the child in the classroom.

An early childhood classroom influenced by Bronfenbrenner’s theory would include:

· Strong connections between home and school by listening to what families have to say about their children and their home interests so that both teachers and children can learn about every child’s community and culture.

· Families that are involved in children’s learning activities that you send home.

· Family members that are involved in a variety of roles in the classroom.

· Strong relationships with the community.

Montessori

From Montessori we learn that children need a carefully prepared, well-organized environment with authentic, homelike materials to reflect order and calm. The environment contains aesthetically pleasing and sensory-rich materials, child-sized furnishings, and self-correcting materials to be used in a specific way. Teachers carefully structure the environment for the children to complete tasks and develop at their own pace.

This girl is building a tower using Montessori cylinders in a prepared environment

A classroom environment influenced by Montessori would have:

· An aesthetically pleasing classroom with a wide selection of sensory materials and experiences for self-expression.

· Low shelves with materials that children can access easily and return materials to their original place.

· Large, open floor spaces.

· Considerable freedom for children to choose activities that have been prepared by the teacher.

· Teachers who respect children, guide their use of materials, and offer help if asked.

Malaguzzi and Reggio Emilia Schools

Malaguzzi calls the classroom environment the child’s “third teacher,” which conveys its powerful impact on children’s thinking and feeling. In Reggio schools, environments are places of beauty that are designed to promote children’s relationships, sense of community, and aesthetics. They are also places that value children’s relationships as a basis of learning. Reggio teachers respect children’s curiosity, ask focused questions, document children’s learning, and display children’s work that reflects their conversations, interests, and experiences.

This video shows key principles of the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. Notice the Reggio environment. How does it impact children’s creative thinking?

Classrooms inspired by Malaguzzi and Reggio Emilia schools would have:

· An aesthetically pleasing environment with lots of light and welcoming entryways.

· Children collaboratively exploring topics of interest to them for long periods of time.

· A variety of open-ended materials and media that stimulate children’s senses and curiosity and encourage investigation, inquiry, and discovery.

· Places for children’s “in progress” projects or products.

· Displays of children’s work that show children and their work are valued and respected.

Vygotsky

Vygotsky theorizes that a hands-on, interactive environment is children’s opportunity to work together. Teachers scaffold children’s thinking and relationships with one another. They guide children in creating themes based on their interests and focus on child-directed play for preschool children and productive activities in the primary grades.

Environments based on Vygotsky’s ideas would have:

· Small-group work that focuses on social interaction and learning from one another.

· Choices of projects for which children can seek help if needed.

· Dramatic play that includes children’s plans of what they want to do to increase the complexity of their play.

· Teachers who serve as partners in learning until children can apply a skill on their own.

Each of these theorists helps us understand the importance of the environment in promoting children’s creative thinking. Now, recall some of your own classrooms in which you were comfortable, felt valued, and looked forward to learning as compared to those in which you were uncomfortable, felt devalued, and felt like learning was a chore. Think about those classrooms as you read about the elements of creative classroom environments.

An aesthetically pleasing environment with lots of light impacts children’s creativity

Elements of Creative Learning Environments

Every learning environment contains physical, social, emotional, and virtual elements that support creative thinking and arts-based learning. Four main elements are climate, relationships, space, and time (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999; DeViney, Duncan, Harris, Rody, & Rosenberry, 2010; Davies et al., 2013; Kuh, 2014; Starko, 2014). Each of these is discussed next.

Climate

Climate is the emotional and academic feeling one gets from the environment and dictates to what extent children can be productive, engaged thinkers and learners. A classroom climate that promotes children’s creativity and the arts has the following:

· Teachers who care about children’s creative expression, intentionally plan active learning experiences that engage children in interesting projects, have high expectations for all students’ success, support children’s efforts in both the art forms and the subject areas, and create aesthetically stimulating classrooms.

· Children who feel safe enough to take risks, feel valued and appreciated, can invent, explore and initiate ideas, become engaged in learning, feel supported by the people in the environment, and have choices about work to be done. Asking questions, finding and solving problems are enthusiastically welcomed.

· Materials that capture and sustain children’s interest and imagination, are stored attractively and orderly, and spark ideas and active learning.

· Spaces that are aesthetically pleasing and evoke a warm, homey quality such as carpeted surfaces; soft, interesting colors and textures; multiple sources of light, and comfortable furniture in a safe, flexible, and orderly environment.

Classroom climate is greatly influenced by children’s relationships and by an environment’s aesthetic appeal (DeViney, Duncan, Harris, Rody, & Rosenberry, 2010; Gandini, Hill, Cadwell, & Schwall, 2005; Isbell & Raines, 2012; Kuh, 2014; New & Kantor, 2013). For example, Reggio schools explicitly create environments to build positive relationships and also appeal to children’s aesthetic senses. A visitor to such a school might see environments full of light, color, plants, and mirrors selected for their aesthetic characteristics. Great care is taken to create a beautiful environment—detail is given even to such seemingly inconsequential considerations as how bathrooms are decorated, how materials are stored, and how lunches and snacks are presented. Children are supported by the other children, the teachers, and the families for their unique ideas and abilities. The Reggio environment is caring, warm, and beautiful and is taken as seriously as is instruction.

Relationships

Guideline 1 of developmentally appropriate practice explains the importance of a caring classroom (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009). Such an environment values children’s relationships with each other, with teachers, and within their families. Relationships affect all aspects of children’s development and learning and school success. Environments with high-quality relationships affirm diversity, have an “ethic of care,” and connect with children’s families.

· Affirm diversity: High-quality relationships help children feel valued so they can be productive learners. They affirm the diversity of each child, provide equal access to learning opportunities, and educate children for a diverse world. The children live values of cooperation, equality, tolerance, and shared learning (Bullard, 2014; Copple & Bredekamp, 2009; Williams & Cooney, 2006).

· Have an ethic of care: Caring is at the heart of healthy relationships. You can show care by learning about children’s interests and offering enough support so children can become responsible learners. The ethic of care is aptly discussed by Nel Noddings (1995), who states that caring teachers are an essential part of responsible education.

· Connect with children’s families: It is well accepted that strong families make strong environments for learning. Involving families shows that you value their children and want to build respectful, two-way communication about their children’s learning (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009; National Association for the Education of Young Children [NAEYC], 2005). Sending home positive notes, emails, or hands-on learning activities to be used at home lets families know that you care about their child’s progress.

Positive relationships among all the people in the learning environment directly affect how children learn to think, develop, create, and grow.

Space

Space sends a message to children about creative thinking. Space should be organized, have a purpose, respect children, enhance their learning and creative thinking, and be aesthetically pleasing. At a minimum, you will need space that accommodates different numbers of children as well as some open space where children can engage in dramatic retellings, share their learning through movement, and enjoy each other’s creative work. Most teachers use classroom space quite inventively (Clayton, 2001; Crawford, 2004; DeViney, Duncan, Harris, Rody, & Rosenberry, 2010; Starko, 2014).

Consider the following types of spaces you will need in your environment.

· Spaces for a range of group sizes. Children need spaces to work alone and in small and large groups. Teachers can use flexible materials and furnishings, such as easels, movable cabinets, storage shelves, and tables to define areas and maximize the potential of any room regardless of its size or shape. If, for example, children are in a school building that is undergoing renovations and want to reconstruct what they are seeing with blocks or other large materials, flexible furnishings allow for spaces to be increased and decreased in response to the children’s current project needs and interests.

· Spaces for quiet and noisy activities. Well-balanced classroom space separates quiet and noisy activity and creates safe traffic patterns. It also provides small spaces necessary for young children to create imaginative play worlds in which they can engage for long periods of time. These arrangements give both children and teachers more control and choice over their creative work and their play.

· Spaces for privacy. Some children need a periodic rest from the activity of the classroom in a place to restore energy or to think quietly before resuming classroom work. Certain activities, such as listening to a story tape, may be enjoyed more fully in a secluded place. It is important to have a special, comfortable place with pillows, soft animals and furnishings, and soft lighting where children can be alone. If classrooms lack such places, children often create their own, such as the first graders who found that the space underneath their teacher’s seldom used desk was a favorite place to read. Figure 9.1 lists ways of creating small spaces to increase the quality of children’s play and creative thought.

Figure 9.1 Suggestions for Creating Small Spaces

Spaces for sharing work. These spaces may be physical, such as bulletin boards or display cases, or virtual such as wikis or blogs where children can share their learning. Sharing work helps children stay engaged and communicate their learning—an important 21st-century skill.

Children often need time alone before resuming classroom work.

· Spaces that accommodate children with special needs. Adapting space for children with special needs helps them feel part of the classroom community. A child in a wheelchair, for example, needs additional space to maneuver or sit at a table. Children who are impulsive often need two distinct spaces—one space to work alone and one space to be in a group. Children who are ELLs need spaces where they can collaborate with peers in English so they are not always working alone. How you arrange and use space impacts how you will use your time to nurture children’s creative work.

Time

Time conveys the importance of an activity or experience. More than 200 years ago, Benjamin Franklin referred to time as “the stuff of life.” The same could be said about time and teaching, for many teachers think there never is enough time to cover the material.

There is no doubt that the creative process takes time. Children need enough time to explore and examine many ideas before completing them. Time influences three aspects of creative thinking: self-expression and self-regulation, attention span, and complex thinking.

· Time influences children’s self-expression and self-regulation. When children have enough time during the school day to think creatively, they become more self-directed learners. Long blocks of time build children’s ability to persist, concentrate, and stay motivated with an experience. Teachers who are sensitive to time factors must decide when to extend or stop an activity or when to capitalize on a “teachable moment.” Classroom environments need ample time to foster children’s imaginative spirit and original thinking.

· Time affects children’s attention span. Many teachers erroneously believe that because children have short attention spans, activities must be changed constantly. When children are engaged in meaningful learning, they can concentrate for comparatively long periods of time. In the schools of Reggio Emilia, for example, very young children remain with a topic for as long as they show an interest in it. Often these topics last for several months (Edwards, Gandini, & Forman, 1998; New & Kantor, 2013). In elementary schools, children remain with highly interactive and engaging projects and investigations for long periods of time.

· Time affects the complexity of children’s thinking. With ample time, children can use the kinds of complex thinking processes used by inventors—curiosity, persistence, imagination, communication, and problem-solving. Higher levels of play, such as sociodramatic play, require considerable amounts of time to plan and carry out an activity that is particularly engaging and meaningful to the child (Edwards, Gandini, & Forman, 1998; Garreau & Kennedy, 1991). Long-time blocks increase children’s ability to move from exploration to more complex investigative play with materials, people, and events. To illustrate, one primary-grade teacher helped her children observe and record changes of plant growth over time. The children classified those data by similarities and differences in types of plants, answered questions using scientific processes, and concluded their study with cooking, dramatizing, and illustrating the plant growth cycle. In this example, long blocks of time investigating a process (change in plant growth) helped the children deepen their conceptual understanding. These influences on the learning environment—climate, relationships, space, and time—are critical for children’s creative processes. Classrooms that value children’s exploration and inquiry within safe and secure settings support children’s sense of wonder and their changing needs, interests, and abilities. Figure 9.2 contains a checklist for identifying key elements that affect creative learning environments. What questions do you have about implementing these environmental factors?

Figure 9.2 Checklist for Elements of Creative Learning Environments

Climate

· Have I created an aesthetically pleasing environment that stimulates children’s imagination, supports learning, and inspires creativity?

Yes No In Progress

· Does my environment reflect the identity of the family and community of the children?

Yes No In Progress

· Do the colors, furnishings, natural objects, texture, and lighting inspire children’s sense of wonder?

Yes No In Progress

Relationships

· Do the children feel a sense of belongingness and community?

Yes No In Progress

· Am I regularly showing respect about children’s sense of wonder, curiosity, and creative problem-solving?

Yes No In Progress

· Am I promoting appreciation and respect among the children and families?

Yes No In Progress

Space

· Is my space organized so the materials are accessible to all children?

Yes No In Progress

· Am I using children’s work to personalize the space?

Yes No In Progress

· Have I defined areas that are clear, safe, and that encourage individual, small group, and large group work?

Yes No In Progress

Time

· Does my schedule encourage creative activity through hands-on learning, in-depth projects, and more complex play?

Yes No In Progress

· Is there enough uninterrupted time for children to explore, experiment, and problem-solve during selected activities?

Yes No In Progress

· Am I maximizing flexibility with the time that I have to use?

Yes No In Progress

Sources: Based on Bullard (2014); Copple & Bredekamp (2009); DeViney, Duncan, Harris, Rody, & Rosenberry (2010a, 2010b); Isbell & Raines (2007); Jacobs & Crowley (2007).

Teachers’ Reflections on Classroom Environments

Preservice Teachers

“As a student teacher, I noticed the children often started cleaning up at centers almost as soon as they initiated an activity because so little time was allotted there. When I had responsibility for full-time teaching, I extended the time blocks and saw its benefits on children’s creative thinking.”

“I used to think that classrooms should be serious, ‘no nonsense’ places to learn. I now believe that warm, safe, and homey environments are more beneficial to fostering creative thinking.”

Inservice Teachers

“The idea of the environment as the ‘third teacher’ has prompted joyful wanderings in my own head of the possibilities associated with this notion. How to make this happen in my kindergarten class is daunting to me now, but I am convinced of the need for it and am pursuing it.”

“As a school board member, I was asked to examine the playground space at one of our elementary schools and hesitated at first. Playground space just did not shout out creative thinking or priority to me in this time of standards and accountability. Now, I realize how the playground can hold the key to hands-on extensions and expand children’s view of their life, the world, and the future.”

Your Reflections

· What do you think is the impact of the classroom environment on children’s and teachers’ creative thinking?

· How might your knowledge and beliefs about creative environment affect children’s self-expression, and learning?

· Explain how you would go about designing your own classroom environment and provide a rationale for your decisions.

Indoor Environments That Foster Creativity and Arts-Based Learning

Designing the indoor environment for creativity and arts-based learning begins with knowing the children, what they need to learn, and how they best can learn. The next consideration includes four interlocking environments—the physical, social, cognitive, and digital environments—that together support children’s creative growth and arts-based learning (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009; Kuh, 2014; Saracho, 2012). The physical environment includes such arrangements as furniture placement, accessibility of stimulating materials, pathways, and large- and small-group meeting and work areas. It must be a safe place to be and provide novel and flexible opportunities for creating. There is also the social environment that involves interactions among the people. It includes the kinds of relationships, respect, and acceptance of individuals, families, and communities that children experience as well as children’s culture and language. The cognitive environment includes those learning experiences, materials, and opportunities that enhance creativity. It focuses on the knowledge, skills, and abilities children need to acquire in order to think and behave creatively. And the digital environment is a simulated, virtual place accessed through computers. It uses various technology tools, websites, and devices to access virtual worlds through which children learn and develop. How these four environments are designed directly affects children’s creativity and arts-based learning.

Classroom environments that value curiosity and eagerness to learn provide children with a balance of self-selected, self-directed, and teacher-selected activities. The following section describes two important components of indoor environments that nurture creativity and the arts: room arrangement and arts-based centers.

Room Arrangement

Room arrangement refers to the way space is organized. It can be planned, such as the art center and the areas around it, or unplanned, such as a cubbyhole between two shelving units that attracts children. Room arrangement affects children’s creativity, productivity, and interactions with one another and with materials (Bullard, 2014; Copple & Bredekamp, 2009; Jacobs & Crowley, 2007; Kuh, 2014).

When arranging space for creative experiences, keep in mind the following:

1. The environment communicates expectations. If you are invited to dinner, you would behave differently at a cookout with paper plates and plastic utensils from a formal dinner party with china, silver, and crystal. Room arrangement works in the same way. Well-organized, carefully arranged space dictates how children may behave, interact, and use materials, and affects their work pace. It fosters self-regulation and student engagement, which creativity and arts-based learning require. In contrast, poorly organized space invites interruptions, decreases children’s attention spans, increases the likelihood of conflicts, and demands more teacher direction.

2. Space must be easy to supervise. Teachers need to be able to scan the room from all vantage points. In this way, you can facilitate children’s behaviors that support learning goals and redirect those that do not. It is equally important to distinguish between the child’s and the adult’s environment. Adults and children view their surroundings from different perspectives. Both usually attend to what is at their eye level.

3. Materials must be accessible, appropriate, and easy to use. Make sure you have plenty of shelves so that children can reach and see the materials that are there. One preschool teacher arranged the manipulative materials such as large Tinkertoys and shape sorters along low, open shelves that face a carpeted area away from traffic flow. Because children need a lot of floor space to play with them, this teacher provided the space for them to do so. She made her appropriate materials accessible and easy to use, which enhanced children’s sense of ownership, encouraged creative problem-solving, and fostered exchanges of materials from one part of the classroom to another.

4. Be alert to traffic patterns. Clear pathways provide for a smooth and easy flow of traffic throughout the room. When centers are too close to one another or crowded around the outside of the room, children cannot freely move among them. To maintain freedom of movement that keeps children focused on their creative processes, paths should not be used for any other purpose. Unclear paths often distract children on their way to a space or lead children to intrude in others’ ongoing activities and concentration.

Room arrangement is a powerful environmental tool that affects children’s creativity. Figure 9.3 shows room arrangements for three age groups: toddlers, preschoolers/kindergartners, and children in grades 1 to 4. You can also download free PDF guides for room plans for children from birth through age 5 by going to the website for Environments and choosing planning guides.

Figure 9.3 Room Arrangements

This video describes seven principles of design for creating inspiring and inviting spaces for children. How does Principle 3, Furnishings Define Space, affect children’s creative thinking? What other principles capture your attention?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RD9XOow20E

Arts-Based Centers

Arts-based centers are inviting, self-contained spaces where children engage in creative activities. These activities can reinforce skills and concepts or spur new interests while promoting children’s critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity (Bullard, 2014; Copple & Bredekamp, 2009; Isbell & Exelby, 2001; Mayesky, 2015; NAEYC, 2015b; Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2012); Saracho, 2012). Good arts-based centers contain a variety of learning experiences, easily accessible arts-based books, materials, resources, and supplies that accomplish the following:

· Promote active learning, planning, decision-making, problem-solving, and originality in all subject areas.

· Increase social and verbal interaction and various forms of play among peers.

· Offer choices to increase children’s creative thought and help them manage their time.

· Reflect children’s interests, families, and cultural backgrounds to motivate learning.

Arts-Based Centers for Different Age Levels

Arts-based centers are appropriate for every child. Each requires a clear purpose, a range of materials and activities, and a means of assessment or evaluation. While centers must take into account individual needs, interests, and levels of learning, there are unique considerations for children at different ages.

Toddlers need centers that contain a variety of sensory materials with different levels of complexity, as well as time for exploration. They must have low, open shelves to display and help the children find materials that reflect familiar people and places matched to their developmental level. Toddlers also need materials that encourage exploration and large motor development with climbing and push–pull toys, provide a private space to watch others play or to rest with a soft toy, and offer sensory and creative experiences with music, science, pretense, construction, manipulatives, and sand and water to encourage different types of play.

Preschoolers and kindergartners need centers that meet all of the requirements for toddlers and contain a variety of interesting materials and experiences that can be used to role-play (such as hats and shoes) and to construct (such as wood, glue, and blocks). The materials must reflect the expanding world of their community, their culture, and their increasing interest in all subject areas; the activities must promote creative problem-solving, communication, and collaboration.

First and second graders need centers that enhance their developing logical thinking and engage them in focused learning that supports critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. Centers help integrate subjects meaningfully across the curriculum, help children demonstrate competence in a particular area, and feel part of a peer group. Their active learning experiences should capitalize on their need to feel competent and successful.

Third and fourth graders like resources in their centers that include literacy materials, challenge cards, hands-on learning, and ongoing projects. They need opportunities to conduct experiments, work on long-term projects, and use data to support their learning. Regardless of age, all children require centers to explore opportunities to connect their learning through art, drama, music, and play.

This child is using modeling material to create.

As you watch this video about preschool centers, notice how the teacher creates multiple areas for centers. What do you see as the purpose of her centers, and how do the learning activities promote creative problem-solving?

Teachers need systems for managing centers. The following section provides suggestions for managing arts-based centers in your classroom.

Managing Arts-Based Centers

You will want to introduce centers slowly and teach children the basic skills and expectations needed to participate in a center activity. Arts-based centers should promote children’s self-expression through an art form such as art, music, drama, and play and contain all the materials needed to complete an activity, including instructions, checklists, progress sheets, and options for exploring the concepts and theme. The following strategies will help you manage an arts-based center (Bullard, 2014; NAEYC, 2015; Saracho, 2012; Starko, 2014).

1. Create centers that are appropriate for a particular group of children. Centers that reflect your children’s needs, interests, and cultures invite participation. You might ask, “What is appropriate for children to learn at this center?” “What is its purpose?” “How will the children express what they know?” Managing centers involves assessing what children know and can do, inviting their ideas about units of study and help in collecting items for that unit, and involving children in planning procedures for its use. For example, in Mr. Kennedy’s second-grade classroom there are two large child-created displays related to their unit on insects. One display contains a variety of three-dimensional imaginative insects that children created at the art center. Another shows children’s illustrated stories about their creations. These centers contain interesting and accessible materials that invite children’s participation, are attractively stored in color-coded plastic baskets and tubs, and are clearly labeled to help children keep them properly organized.

2. Provide guidelines for using the center. Some teachers provide mini “field trips” before using a center. These excursions help children understand the center’s boundaries, highlight the use of materials and equipment, suggest roles and activities, and give children a sense of how much time they have for sustained play, exploration, and investigation. They also help children know what learning goals are expected. In Mr. Kennedy’s second grade, he organizes children’s work as well as materials. Children use individual mailboxes made from recycled 2-liter or gallon jugs with the tops cut off, egg cartons as scissors holders, and a clothesline to display their art. Organizing children’s work provides children with a sense of order that helps them gain a sense of control over their environment, as illustrated here.

Use planning tools. Planning tools, such as planning boards, procedure charts, and learning contracts, are visual and concrete ways to help children focus on the beginning and end of an activity, develop organizational skills related to their own activities, manage their time, work independently and with others, assume responsibility for their own activities, and reflect on their decisions. Planning boards help teachers limit the number of children in a center activity at any one time, evaluate and change centers as needed, and observe children’s choices.

Planning boards and procedure charts can be easily made from pegboard or tagboard, pictures or labels for centers, and name tags. Some teachers use a magnetic board with small magnets or magnetic tape strips on the board and paper clips glued on the back of cards. For children who are not yet readers, children’s names and the names of the centers can be illustrated pictorially. Figure 9.4 illustrates a planning board used with preschoolers, kindergartners, and first graders; Figure 9.5 illustrates procedure charts used with primary-grade children.

Figure 9.4 A Planning Board

Figure 9.5 Procedure Charts

1. Learning contracts are organizational tools to guide independent study, promote autonomy, differentiate instruction, and provide opportunities for self-assessment (Tomlinson, 2014). Contracts allow children to choose what work to do, when to work, with whom to work, and where to work. For example, after studying different animals, some second graders contracted to extend their knowledge through art by making drawings or constructing models of their favorite animal; others chose to write original songs and raps; still others asked to create scenarios, such as “Meet My Pet Boa Constrictor.” Figure 9.6illustrates learning contracts for preschoolers and kindergartners; Figure 9.7shows learning contracts for first and second graders; and Figure 9.8illustrates learning contracts for third and fourth graders.

2. Assess and facilitate learning. You can use arts-based centers to observe, assess, and document children’s learning related to specific outcomes. Centers can also be used to guide children’s choices, to model behavior for children who are reluctant to participate in a center project, or to support children’s ideas and projects. Children can also self-assess their own progress.

Figure 9.6 Learning Contract for Preschoolers and Kindergartners

Figure 9.7 Learning Contract for First and Second Graders

Figure 9.7 Learning Contract for First and Second Graders

Name:   Week of:  

Topic:  

What do I want to know?  

How will I find out?  

How will I share my learning?  

What will I do if I need help?  

Teacher signature:  

Figure 9.8 Learning Contract for Third and Fourth Graders

1. Document children’s progress and evaluate center use. Because children are engaged in a variety of center experiences at the same time, it is important to have a system in place to show what children can do, such as a checklist for documenting children’s literacy learning through play or understanding mathematical concepts through art. Carefully designed displays provide another catalyst for student learning. They inspire curiosity and underscore children’s accomplishments and pride in their work. Documentation also helps teachers ask themselves whether children are engaged in meaningful activity and whether the centers provide ongoing opportunities and challenges.

All centers can offer children opportunities to engage in meaningful learning. Next we discuss the development of arts-based centers.

Creating Arts-Based Centers

Centers can be permanent, temporary, portable, or rotating. They include commonly found materials and activities to support children’s creative processes. The best centers have a clear purpose, a rich variety of safe materials that invite exploration, experimentation, problem-solving, and connections to real life, and a means of assessment or evaluation.

Art Center

The art center enables children to investigate, plan, and make art using a wide variety of materials, including children’s literature with engaging illustrations. Some teachers display works from famous artists in or near the center to enhance aesthetic appreciation. The art center should be located near a water source. If not, use plastic sheeting to cover carpeted areas or tables when children are using messy materials.

In the art center, children should be actively learning and express that learning. To illustrate, two preschoolers were making a menu for their Mexican restaurant theme center. They used the art center to illustrate the menu and then used it to elaborate on their play. In a third-grade class, Keenan used the art center to create a glove finger puppet as a prop for his story on dragons, while Mrs. Ritchie’s fourth graders created flyers advertising pets available for adoption to help the local animal shelter as a follow-up to reading Shiloh (Naylor, 1991). The children researched facts about the available pets and created an advertisement for one of them, which included a drawing of the animal, its age, and what it likes to eat and play with. In these classrooms, the art center provided a vehicle for integrating the curriculum.

Block and Construction Center

The block and construction center helps children develop essential 21st-century, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics) skills and concepts. It also increases children’s social and problem-solving skills and expands their design and engineering skills by representing or communicating their ideas through blocks. The center should be located away from busy traffic areas and with ample space for construction. It should contain a wide assortment of blocks and accessories, such as human figures, road signs, and small-wheeled vehicles for young children and a variety of construction sets and materials for older children. Literacy materials and tools encourage children to sketch their “blueprints” on paper, label a building they’ve created, or write or recreate a story about their experience and share their constructions with a friend. The book Block City (Stevenson, 2005) stimulates children’s imaginations about block use. Math and science materials and tools in this center help children use knowledge of structures and functions by making designs with blocks, graphing attributes and types of blocks used in a construction, or building a maze. Blocks should be accessible on open shelves marked with paper silhouettes of each block size and shape. Placing the center near the dramatic play center for younger children increases the interchange among centers (Hirsch, 1996; NAEYC, 2015a; Pollman, 2010).

Cooking and Baking Center

This center piques children’s curiosity about food and food preparation and can promote their thinking about healthy eating. Children should be carefully supervised and use safe cooking utensils. By making age-appropriate, healthy recipes, children learn many skills and concepts in the core subject areas as well as in the arts. For example, when they measure, count, cut a whole into parts, or divide ingredients, they are doing math; when they observe changes in foods as they mix, taste, or cook it, they are doing science; and when they read a recipe as they prepare food, they are engaged in literacy. The cooking and baking center should contain recipe books for children at all developmental levels, such as The Early Sprouts Cookbook (Kalich, Bauer, & McPartlin, 2010) or Family Fun Cooking with Kids (Cook, 2006) and a pictograph of the recipe that children are making if they cannot read or a standard recipe for those who can read.

Figure 9.9 shows a pictograph for making Stone Soup based on the popular folktale Stone Soup (Brown, 1997).

Discovery and Science Center

In this “hands-on” center, children develop scientific and conceptual understandings by actively exploring materials and activities that bring science to life. Children gain firsthand experiences with concepts about animals, vegetation, and minerals, as well as the equipment used to study them such as scales, magnets, and simple measurement tools. Materials in this center may include boxes of collected items, such as shells or rocks, for sorting, classifying, comparing and contrasting, old appliances or radios with different tools to take apart the used items, and games for classifying or categorizing objects from the natural environment (like seeds, leaves, or insects). Often children use these materials for ongoing projects in other centers. To illustrate, one kindergartner took the magnifying glass from the discovery center to examine sick animals she was tending in the dramatic play area. A fourth grader added information about his plant’s growth to the classroom graph. The discovery and science center also includes experiences with sand, rice, and water that offer many opportunities for teaching about safety issues with the materials being used.

Children develop scientific understandings by exploring scientific materials.

WavebreakMediaMicro/Fotolia

Figure 9.9 Recipe for Stone Soup

Drama Center

The drama center encourages children to use their imagination and problem-solving ability while experimenting with roles, behaviors, social skills, and communication. It also promotes career and cultural awareness as children explore various occupations and cultures. Drama centers are often transformed into thematic units of study, such as a bakery during a unit on economics, a shoe store during a unit on measurement, and an artist’s studio during a unit on famous artists. Whatever the theme, a drama center provides rich opportunities for building literacy and math skills and concepts. Adding pencils, pads, literature books, and other print materials encourages children’s voluntary use of literacy and numeracy. Prop boxes are appropriate in this center and enhance children’s creative work.

Library and Literacy Center

This center invites children to read a variety of print materials and should be located in a quiet area of the classroom. It should be an attractive, inviting, aesthetically pleasing area stocked with books as well as digital and visual images such as graphics, animation sound, and video that match children’s interests and their topics of study. Some teachers use a rocking chair, a seat removed from a car, or an old bathtub filled with pillows as well as displays of children’s art that illustrates book jackets or characters from their favorite books to create a comfortable area for browsing and reading.

The center should also contain printed signs and questions that invite children to explore the book selections. Some teachers use the Sunday comics, old catalogs, puppets and prop boxes for retelling stories, recycled copies of children’s magazines, and mobiles of information about a featured author. Interesting writing materials, such as recycled colored paper from a print shop and unusual pens and pencils, should be available. For younger children, this center encourages early literacy play—an important precursor to learning to read and write. For older children, this center provides opportunities to self-select books that range from easy-to-read materials to high-quality literature, to match students’ ability and interest levels as well as opportunities to discuss, share, and enact literature. Literacy centers can display photographs of children and families in the classroom, classroom events, and a class photo album to stimulate conversation about the classroom community and to build cultural awareness.

A literacy center should invite children to enjoy books together.

Manipulative and Math Center

Manipulative and Math Center

This center should capture children’s natural curiosity to observe, classify, sort, and order. It should contain materials and provide experiences that help children inquire and solve mathematical problems.

Manipulative materials such as buttons, colored blocks, counting rods or frames, cubes, and geoboards encourage children’s growing mathematical understandings such as numbers, geometry, measurement, classification, ordering, and comparing. Locate the center near low, open shelves that contain an organized system for storing manipulatives and math games such as dominoes. Writing materials, a whiteboard, and a flannel board should also be available for children to create their own math stories and explore and practice mathematical skills and concepts (Pollman, 2010). In this center, for example, younger children might measure objects and determine the longest or shortest using nonstandard units of measure such as picture cards or buttons; older children can estimate in standard units and compare and record their findings using a ruler, recording the data, and explaining their strategy. You will also want to include a variety of quality children’s books that reinforce mathematical concepts, such as One Dragon’s Dream, A Counting Book (Pavey, 2009), Emily’s First 100 Days of School (Wells, 2000), or Anno’s Counting Book (Anno, 1977) for counting; books for problem-solving such as Monster Math Picnic (Maccarone, 1998); books for sorting and classifying such as Together (Hutchins, 2009); or books for creating patterns such as Growing Patterns (Campbell, 2010). For more specific suggestions on math center activities, search the website for K-5 Math Teaching Resources.

Media and Music Center

This center should offer children something to do such as inventing music with simple musical instruments or PVC pipes; something to listen to such as music and instruments from other cultures; something to learn about such as composers or instruments; and something to share or take home such as drawings of instruments or a take-home bag containing materials to make a homemade instrument (Jalongo & Isenberg, 2012; Saracho, 2012). Electronic media, such as CDs, computers, audiotapes, MP3 players, and videotapes can be used as vehicles for playful expression with music and movement. The center needs to be located near an electrical outlet. Many teachers use laminated posters with rebus-type instructions on operating and caring for the equipment. Computers, placed on tabletops at eye level, should be arranged so that two or three children may work together at any one time. The media and music center activates children’s musical intelligence and offers diverse learners an important avenue for learning. It should be as open and accessible as other centers so that children can use the equipment for play and investigation.

Sand, Water, and Sensory Center

In this center that can be used both indoors and outdoors, children use sensory materials to control their world and think creatively. Indoor sensory centers that use sand and water need a table located near a water source and away from a wall so children can work on all four sides. Accessories for sand and water centers include assorted cups and molds, small vehicles, bulbs and syringes, and assorted sifters and funnels. Sensory centers that use dry, tactile materials can use any type of plastic tub or even a sturdy cardboard box. Materials for sensory exploration may include rice, assorted papers and fabrics of different textures (hard, soft, bumpy, rough, smooth, silky), or Styrofoam peanuts. Figure 9.10 shows four-year-old Trevor’s drawing of playing at the sand table and Trisha’s drawing of herself at the water table.

Figure 9.10 Head Start Children’s Interpretation of the Sand and Water Table

(a) Four-year-old Trevor illustrates a sand table. Notice the enclosed area for the table with the sand inside.

Technology Center

The technology center can expand a child’s understanding about a topic or reinforce concepts already learned. Age-appropriate software maximizes children’s inventive thinking, spatial and visual learning, self-expression, ability to be part of a team, and creation of high-quality products, all of which are essential skills for the 21st century (NAEYC & Fred Rogers Center, 2012). Selecting appropriate apps, Internet sites, or virtual manipulatives is also important. Whether it is an information site, which helps children gain new knowledge and answer questions; a communication site, which puts children in touch with others; or a publication site, which provides a place for children to post their work, all sites must be evaluated using stringent criteria and specific evaluation tools.

Writing Center

In this center children experiment with writing and illustrating in many forms, from scribbling or drawing to composing poems and stories. Sometimes they come here from other centers to make signs or captions for their work. Arts-based writing centers contain whiteboards, staplers, glue, pencils, markers and crayons, and an assortment of papers in various sizes, shapes, and colors for creating, writing, and illustrating. Magazines, newspapers, and old catalogs are also available for children to illustrate stories or add to their creations. Some teachers keep a box of children’s drawings for others to use to create stories.

Arts-based centers offer children more than just opportunities to engage in an activity; they offer children the chance to explore, investigate, and think in new and creative ways. It is unlikely that you will use all of these centers simultaneously. Most teachers use about six permanent centers that align with their curriculum and periodically transform them to support ongoing units of study.

Find out more about centers for preschool children by watching this video. How do these centers accommodate children’s diverse ways of learning? What other arts-based materials would you add?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xCCBIvgWQ0

Be sensitive to children’s pace of learning and help them move comfortably from one activity to another by paying attention to transitions and routines.

Transitions and Routines in a Creative Environment

Transitions are times during the day when children move from one activity to the next. Routines are regular and predictable events that form the basis of the daily, weekly, and monthly schedule. They are integral to a safe and supportive creative learning environment. Clear transitions and routines help children sense the passage of time (such as snack follows cleanup or math follows lunch), prepare for the day (such as singing a good morning song or chant), stay focused, and anticipate events (such as playing a musical selection at the end of each day).

Transitions and routines consume 20 to 35% of a preschooler’s day and about 15% of an elementary child’s day. Unless intentionally planned, they can be difficult and stressful periods for both children and teachers. Developmentally appropriate transitions and routines are essential and differ from other activities in purpose, length, frequency, children’s ages, and the available physical facilities. Thoughtfully planned transitions and routines provide a predictable environment that minimizes chaos and empowers children.

Incorporating the arts for transitions and routines engages children and adds meaning to the experience. For example, you can use familiar music to move young children to a new activity, such as singing the song “Riding in an Airplane” by Raffi, for preschool children who then can pretend to fly to the art tables equipped with paper, markers, and photographs of airplanes and make appropriate airplane noises along the way. This will connect their study of transportation with music and art and assure a positive transition. For elementary children, you can use drama to create a morning class news show with children assuming different roles such as news reporter, weather reporter, and travel reporter who can report on characters from literature or events from social studies. Figure 9.11 provides tips for managing transitions and routines in a creative environment.

Just as teachers regularly consider designing the indoor environment, they need to consider the design of the outdoor environment. An engaging outdoor environment stimulates innovative and imaginative thinking and other creative habits of mind. In the next section, we examine the outdoor environment.

Figure 9.11 Tips for Managing Transition and Routines

Sources: Based on Bullard (2014); Clayton (2001); Copple & Bredekamp, 2009; Hemmeter, Ostosky, Artman, & Kinder (2008); Howell & Reinhard, 2015; NAEYC (2005).

Outdoor Environments That Foster Creativity and Arts-Based Learning

Outdoor environments that foster creativity and arts-based learning require you to decide how you and the children may use the space. Outdoor spaces open possibilities for children to explore, investigate, follow their interests, and perhaps start an authentic project (Frost, Wortham, & Reifel, 2012; Garrick, 2009; Kuh, 2014; Rivkin & Stein, 2014; Tovey, 2007).

Research shows that outdoor learning improves children’s ability to focus, pay attention to “green spaces” that influence their health and well-being, and improve their achievement, autonomy, sense of responsibility, and behavior. Outdoor learning also contributes to children’s ability to problem-solve, cooperate, observe, and navigate with challenging and novel materials. These skills are foundational to early childhood practice (Beames, Higgins, & Nicol, 2012; Davies et al., 2013).

Well-planned outdoor spaces stimulate children’s sense of wonder, imagination, and appreciation of their natural world. They offer more complexity, such as uneven ground, different plants and colors, or weather changes. They also allow children to use natural materials and focus more on challenges and problem-solving skills. During outdoor play, children have large spaces for whole body movement, such as running and climbing, can engage with nature and the outdoors, such as examining local animals, habitats, seeds, bugs, or other vegetation, focus on child-initiated activity, and have fewer noise restrictions than they do indoors. Learning outdoors helps children to make connections using many multiple intelligences (Gardner, 2009) and promotes the 21st-century skills of creativity and innovation, communication and collaboration, and critical thinking, and problem-solving (Partnership for 21st Century Learning Skills, 2012). Thus, you will need ample time for children to explore, investigate, experiment, and problem-solve in space that is flexible. Outdoor environments benefit all children and should be utilized year-round.

Features of Creative Outdoor Environments

Think about what Ms. Ogur, a preschool teacher did to enrich her outdoor space by adding some complexity and variety to it. She brought out a wagon; created an obstacle course from old, worn tires; and made some simple traffic signs out of scrap lumber and paint. She also brought out the police officer’s hat from the dramatic play center and markers and scrap paper from the literacy center. From these simple additions, the children created elaborate play about accidents, parking, and speeding. Some children even created and handed out parking tickets. On other occasions, the children used the wagon as an ambulance to transport an accident victim to the hospital, where another elaborate scenario was enacted. Ms. Ogur even used the traffic signs to reinforce bicycle safety.

Ms. Ogur illustrates how a resourceful teacher can create a stimulating outdoor environment even with limited resources. She also demonstrates how well-planned outdoor spaces can spark children’s curiosity, imagination, and problem-solving ability with a variety of stimulating materials and equipment. Good outdoor spaces promote all forms of play (functional, constructive, dramatic, and games), offer children numerous possibilities for social interaction and gross motor development, and are developmentally appropriate and aesthetically pleasing (Frost, Wortham, & Reifel, 2012; Garrick, 2009; Greenman, 2005; Rivkin & Stein, 2014).

Creative outdoor environments have three features that enhance creativity and arts-based learning. They include nature, equipment and materials, and safety and supervision.

Nature

Nature is an overlooked learning tool. It provides opportunities for children to carefully observe specific sensory elements in the environment and is a natural place for all children to investigate objects and living things. Smelling flowers, collecting leaves, acorns, or bugs, or listening to birds all delight children, spark their imaginations and interest, and inspire their sense of wonder and capitalize on their naturalistic intelligence (Gardner, 2009; Rivkin & Stein, 2014; Wilson, 2012; Wirth & Rosenow, 2012).

Using nature as a learning tool has many benefits. Children of all ages learn to appreciate nature, improve their concentration, engage in more imaginative and constructive play, problem-solving, and positive social behaviors. Although access to nature and natural outdoor spaces varies based on where your school or center is, every teacher can create natural spaces that range from very simple to moderately or very complex spaces. These spaces can be used on blacktops, rooftops, fields, or woods. In Figure 9.12, Leanna’s Tree Collage, 5-year-old Leanna uses different-colored tissue paper or cotton to show what trees look like in different seasons. Notice also how she adds a snowman to the winter picture and flowers to the spring picture.

You can transform any outdoor space with some of the following:

· Use container gardens of edible plants, flowers, or spices in small spaces or where you only have a blacktop.

· Provide small pails for children to collect items on a scavenger or a treasure hunt.

· Plant a class or school garden with vegetables or flowers.

· Take nature hikes and provide ziplock bags to collect natural items.

There are many resources for nature-based learning. Community Playthings in collaboration with the Nature Action Collaborative for Children has a practical booklet entitled The Wisdom of Nature, which you can download from the Community Playthings website. This site also has several nature-based articles and blogs with ideas and resources for the outdoor environment. For other resources, explore the website for children and nature.

Equipment and Materials

Outdoor equipment and materials can be fixed or complex. Fixed equipment has an obvious use such as a swing or a tricycle; complex equipment has two or more different materials to manipulate such as water and a bucket or sand, digging tools, and water. The more complex the equipment or material, the more opportunities children have to use their imaginations and solve authentic problems. Equipment and materials should invite children to play, hold their interest over time, and promote creative thought through all four forms of play (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009; Frost & Woods, 2015; Garrick, 2009; Greenman, 2005). Because materials and space can often be used more flexibly in outdoor spaces, children naturally use their imaginations and invent their own games with found materials, such as stones, flowers, or leaves.

Equipment should be sturdy, safe, and age appropriate. Materials should be open-ended and have movable parts, complexity, and diversity.

Movable parts are pieces that children can manipulate and use to improvise. Lightweight objects of different sizes, shapes, and textures; boards or ramps; and organic materials such as sand and water can be moved from place to place within the area as children choose. They add complexity, flexibility, diversity, novelty, and challenge to the environment—all important ingredients for creativity, socialization, and learning.

Complexity refers to the number of possibilities of the material.. The more possibilities the material has, the more likely it is to hold children’s interest and attention because children can do more with it (Kritchevsky et al., 1977). For example, a large tire swing that can hold two or more children offers more options than a swing on a swing set.

Diversity includes the number of ways materials can be used, regardless of their complexity. It influences how children get started in their activity and offers children necessary choices to create their own forms of play (Frost, Wortham, & Reifel, 2012; Kuh, 2014). Many teachers use play crates to add diversity to the outdoors. Figure9.13 provides examples of outdoor props and play crates.

Figure 9.13 Props and Play Crates for the Outdoor Environment

Safety and Supervision

When children are outdoors they are more likely to engage in gross motor play and take different risks from indoors. You will want to ensure that children have adequate sunscreen before venturing outdoors. Providing safe equipment and materials and overseeing children is essential.

The National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS) has identified four elements of playground safety. These include Supervision, Age-appropriate designs, equipment, and materials, Fall surfaces, and Equipment and materials. These SAFE elements apply to children of all ages and abilities and all types and locations of playgrounds. You can access safety tips by age level, resources, and an annual report card to assess your own playground’s safety at the website for the National Program for Playground Safety.

Safe outdoor environments

· Are well designed and adequately maintained.

· Have storage facilities, suitable surfacing materials, and accessibility.

· Provide features children prefer, such as dramatic play materials and nature areas.

· Focus on all developmental areas.

· Are developmentally appropriate.

· Contain 8 to 10 inches of fall-absorbing material, such as pea gravel, under and around all moving equipment because falls are the number one cause of playground injuries to children (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 2010). Be sure to include a retaining border to hold the material and replenish it frequently.

Children need to be safe and well-supervised while outdoors.

A well-supervised environment is also essential and has the same ratio of adults outdoors as indoors. Well- supervised spaces have adults who do the following:

· Monitor the outdoor environment.

· Have knowledge of injury prevention and first aid.

· Inspect equipment and materials for safety and need of repair.

· Circulate around the area rather than standing in a group and talking.

· Set clear, reasonable limits about what children may do, such as sitting down on the slide.

· Ensure that children use the equipment and materials safely.

· Challenge children’s physical, cognitive, social, and emotional skills.

Figure 9.14 is a checklist of criteria to use for your outdoor space.

These features of creative outdoor environments apply to all children. However, some adaptations may be needed for specific age groups and children with special needs.

Creative Outdoor Spaces for Children of Different Ages and Abilities

Like indoor environments, creative outdoor environments must be designed with children’s ages and developmental levels in mind. They support a range of goals, including a sense of competence, cooperation, creativity, and problem-solving through a variety of activities.

Infant to Toddler Years

Outdoor spaces for infants and toddlers should meet their rapidly increasing motor and social development, their boundless energy and curiosity, and their clear need for autonomy. Infant and toddler outdoor environments have unique safety issues (Bullard, 2014; Frost, Wortham, & Reifel, 2012; Gonzalez-Mena, 2013). For this age group, pay special attention to the following:

· Ground cover that cannot be ingested, such as pea gravel.

· Hazardous material that may have accumulated overnight, such as broken objects, sharp edges, or foreign objects.

· Swing seats that include a strap to prevent falling.

· Safety barriers that protect infants and toddlers from traffic, falls, and pools of water.

· Shade for sun- and heat-sensitive infants.

· Hard-surfaces for wheel toys to push and pull.

Infants and toddlers also need opportunities for a range of sensory exploration with a few simple, safe, age-appropriate choices. Adding materials of different textures, such as sticks, bugs, or tree bark, or clear pathways to walk on, touch, and explore, inspires exploration and play. They need stimulating equipment close to the ground, such as tunnels or simple climbing structures; dramatic play options; movable parts for stacking, gathering, and dumping; and natural experiences with living plants and animals (Frost, Wortham, & Reifel, 2012; Rivkin & Stein, 2014).

Intriguing additions for toddler outdoor environments include the following:

· Hanging inflatable objects from a tree and having children try to “catch one” with a cardboard tube.

· Painting the pathways, equipment, or fence with small buckets of water and large brushes.

· Washing dishes and furniture with pans of warm, soapy water, sponges, and scrub brushes.

Preschool to Kindergarten Years

Creative outdoor environments for preschoolers and kindergartners should promote all four forms of play: functional, constructive, dramatic, and games with rules to support these children’s need for vigorous gross motor play and increased interest in role-playing and games. It should contain an accessible storage facility for portable materials, a grassy area for group games, a place for privacy to meet children’s need for solitary and parallel play, and a variety of child-sized equipment for motor development (Debord, Hestenes, Moore, Cosco, & McGinnis, 2002; Frost, Wortham, & Reifel, 2012). The best outdoor spaces for preschool and kindergarten children include a complex superstructure with a combination of movable parts (e.g., raw materials such as sand, water, and assorted boards) and climbing structures with many moving parts, such as swings, bars, ladders, and structures with potential for dramatic play.

Try some of these activities to add novelty and complexity to the outdoor environment:

· Create nature areas for children to focus on the aesthetic aspects of the outdoors.

· Use shoebox lids and white glue to make collages of natural materials found on or near the outdoor environment.

· Turn wheeled vehicles into another vehicle by taping on a sign and adding appropriate props nearby to stimulate dramatic play.

· Provide a large, empty carton and other appropriate props to create a service station area for wheeled vehicles, a bank drive-through, or a roadside produce stand.

· Add props and play crates designed for outdoor play that stimulate creativity and the imagination as shown in Figure 9.13.

· Provide bubbles with an assortment of recycled materials, such as berry baskets and straws, for bubble wands.

· Encourage children to paint along the fence by clipping easel paper on it; leave the paintings up for an art show.

· Read A Rose for Pinkerton (Kellogg, 1981) and Pet Show (Keats, 1972); then have a pet show with children’s stuffed animals. Make judges’ clipboards out of cardboard and clothespins, stands for the animals out of recycled ice-cream tubs, and prize ribbons out of recycled gift wrap.

First Grade to Fourth Grade

Creative outdoor environments for school-age children should promote investigation, problem-solving, and imagination. These children prefer structures with numerous physical challenges, such as climbers, equipment, and spaces for social development, and safe places for group games. Some suggestions that challenge school-age children in outdoor areas include the following:

· Plan and conduct a scavenger hunt. Use a variety of clues that incorporate riddles, listening, or writing. Tie the scavenger hunt into the unit of study where possible.

· Provide chalk so that children can make outdoor games, such as hopscotch or foursquare, or create shadow drawings.

· Tie-dye old T-shirts and dry them along a fence. Then use another color for more complex and symmetrical designs.

· Do a shadow play in the afternoon. Invite children to enact various roles and use cardboard silhouettes for props. Have the audience watch the show on the ground.

· Assign “fitness” homework, such as walking, hopping, jumping rope, counting steps, or stretching that improves fitness.

· Create a nature area, such as a butterfly garden, to connect with classroom projects.

Creative outdoor environments foster children’s creative thinking and arts-based learning through intentional uses of space, activities, experiences, and materials. Teachers who believe in the power of the environment for learning assume roles that guide children’s creativity.

Outdoor environments have many benefits and should be utilized year-round.

Teachers’ Roles: Designing a Creative Environment

What teachers believe about creativity and the arts influences the classroom environment. Much of what you have already read in this chapter and in previous chapters should help you design your own creative learning space. Teachers like Ms. Lynette, Ms. Keier, Mr. Rapoza, and Ms. Ogur, whom you met earlier in this chapter, intentionally plan environments that support children’s creativity and imagination. They know that the more children can wonder, be curious, and make connections to possibilities, the more they will develop their creativity. Research shows that children’s creative and critical thinking skills develop early and that these skills provide the foundation for their later learning and development across all domains and across all content areas (Epstein, 2014; Frost, Wortham, & Reifel, 2012; Garrick, 2009; Kuh, 2014; Tovey, 2007; Whittaker, 2014). Early childhood teachers, who intentionally plan and arrange environments, support the development of these characteristics. Making decisions about what to use, how to use it, and when to use it reflect your beliefs and values.

Environments that foster creativity and arts-based learning also address 21st-century skills and standards. These skills include the innovative skills of creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication as well as a focus on the STEAM content areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math (Lindeman & Anderson, 2015; Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2012). Other skills, such as imagination, curiosity, self-regulation, and collaboration are also crucial (Garriock, 2011; Jerald, 2009).

Picture the following second-grade classroom. The day begins with centers containing activities and projects selected by the children as part of their unit of study on the solar system. Some children are constructing models of planets; others are researching the distances between each planet and the sun; still others are investigating moon shapes and illustrating the different phases; and some are publishing original books, plays, and poetry about what they see in the night sky. Following centers, the children gather in a circle for their morning meeting. Mrs. Lee, the teacher, likes the group circle arrangement for whole group because it minimizes distractions and creates a sense of belonging. She places traditional, whole-group activities (such as problem-solving, planning events of the day, sharing, and academic or social skill development) after centers to capture children’s high interest in starting to learn early in the day.

Notice how Mrs. Lee’s second graders choose of selected learning activities and have many opportunities to talk with their teachers and peers. Her classroom has a flexible schedule and organization, contains a variety of interest centers, and has well-managed transitions and routines. Mrs. Lee’s arrangement supports children’s creativity.

An environment that fosters creativity and the arts is a mind-set—a way of thinking about how to teach and what is important for all children to learn. The following suggestions will help promote children’s creative habits of mind and allow them to function comfortably, productively, and effectively together.

1. Consider the environment a powerful learning tool. Knowledgeable teachers anticipate how children might use space, time, relationships, and materials. Predicting behavior in this way promotes children’s independence, active involvement, and sustained attention. The environment can also be used to manage tasks. A predictable schedule, for example, helps children learn the rhythm of the day and feel able to participate. Carefully arranged and displayed materials invite children’s participation with a minimum of adult intervention. One preschool teacher uses children’s photographs for taking attendance and rebus recipes for preparing snacks. Such tools reduce the amount of time teachers devote to routine administrative tasks, freeing them to focus on children’s creativity and the arts. What other aspects of room arrangement might be important to consider when teaching young children?

2. Ensure that your classroom climate supports children’s risk-taking. When teachers celebrate children’s ideas and thinking, they send the message that creative thinking is valued. In such an environment, children are more likely to try new materials and express themselves in different ways. Teachers who encourage children’s creative expression are more likely to emphasize the importance of the process children use in creating rather than on the final product, supporting children’s thinking by asking open-ended questions, using rich language and new vocabulary, and developing children’s background knowledge.

3. Model and promote the 21st-century skills of critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. To model critical thinking and problem-solving you might think out loud and say, “I know we want to have birds come to our outdoor space. I wonder what we can do to invite them. What would they like to have? What do they eat? Do they play?” For communication, provide opportunities for children to present their work for an authentic audience. Consider inviting children to design, make, and present a book as a gift to a younger child, or share work with a partner or the class. You can also ensure opportunities for collaboration that encourage working together in small groups toward a common goal. As children work together, their self-expression and originality increase as they build upon each other’s ideas. And finally, you will want to tap into children’s creativity with open-ended materials and tools, such as multimedia, clay, recycled items, wood pieces, or wire to articulate their ideas and thoughts.

4. Use the virtual world appropriately.  Virtual worlds provide an important environment for children to develop their creativity and learn across all domains. Just as face-to-face environments differ according to age and developmental needs, so should virtual environments. Developmentally appropriate virtual environments provide opportunities for children to engage in experiences that would not otherwise be available to them (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009; Kuh, 2014).

Watch this video, which shows elementary-school children exploring a website with galleries of instruments created by children all over the United States. How is this teacher promoting 21st-century skills in the children as they locate materials, design, and pitch levels of instruments before they design their own?

Teachers who design creative learning environments maximize student participation and engagement, support learner-centered teaching, reward imaginative ideas, and encourage children’s self-evaluation.

Adapting Creative Environments for Diverse Learners

All children need environments that foster a sense of curiosity, wonder, and acceptance of cultural diversity and disabilities. With some simple adaptations, it is easy to create arts-based environments that support diverse learners (Deiner, 2013; Salend, 2016; Saracho, 2012). We first suggest modifications for indoor physical environments, then suggest ways to modify center activities, and finally suggest ways to modify outdoor environments to meet the needs of diverse learners.

Tips for Modifying the Indoor Physical Environment to Support Diverse Learners

Use the following tips to modify the indoor physical environment to ensure greater inclusivity:

· Understand the child’s exceptionality so that appropriate accommodations allow for full participation and a focus on the child’s abilities.

· Provide a “buddy” who can help introduce and model classroom routines and activities.

· Modify the space, furniture location, noise, and light.

· Adjust centers with some simple changes in materials, equipment, and careful planning.

· Use technology and interactive media to provide equitable access for all children.

Adaptations for Children with Physical Disabilities

· Provide large spaces in which children can easily move and work.

· Maintain clear pathways in the classroom for easy movement.

· Position tables so that children in wheelchairs are at the same level as their peers.

Adaptations for Children with Hearing Impairments

· Seat children away from noisy backgrounds, such as windows, doors, and heating or cooling systems.

· Encourage children to move freely so they can hear better and see the faces of their peers.

· Use carpet and corkboard walls to reduce classroom noise.

Adaptations for Children with Visual Impairments

· Orient children to the location of materials, centers, pathways, and exits using the child’s seat as a focal point.

· Familiarize children to the school environment once they are oriented to the classroom.

· Designate a peer “sight guide” for special activities, such as fire drills and assemblies.

· Use lighting that does not cast shadows or a glare on schoolwork and activities.

· Play tactile games with blocks, toys, and materials with a variety of textures and forms.

Tips for Modifying Specific Centers for Diverse Learners

Be sure that all materials, question charts, and center instructions contain both text and visual icons to illustrate concepts and problems to solve. You will also want to provide audio-recorded directions so that both readers and nonreaders know what to do. Use the tips that follow to m modify center activities for greater inclusion.

Art Center

· Provide textured papers for children with visual impairments.

· Have books from different cultures and countries that have engaging illustrations.

· Offer large paper for children with small motor challenges.

· Use glue sticks instead of liquid glue.

Literacy and Writing Centers

· Integrate art, music, or drama as a way to respond to a book, poem, or other literacy activity.

· Use pencil grips, pads of paper and large-lined paper (lines may need to be of a different color or “raised” off the paper).

· Have felt-tip pens instead of pencils for children with limited motor abilities.

· Provide letter magnets, stamps, and stencils to encourage exploration of letters and their placement within words.

Math/Science Center

· Integrate the arts through content area study.

· Provide a wide range of differently sized manipulatives to accommodate students with fine motor or dexterity challenges as well as to understand basic, abstract, and symbolic concepts.

· Arrange activities so other students can model or assist struggling peers in a group setting.

· Include a variety of measuring instruments such as rulers, tape measures, and yardsticks.

Technology Center

· Incorporate websites or software that can read directions or text on the screen.

· Choose software that has levels of difficulty ranging from easy to hard.

· Teach children to enable the computer to read back what they have written. Most word processing products have this capability built in.

Tips for Modifying the Outdoor Environment to Support Diverse Learners

To meet the American with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) (1990) requirement for accessibility and to provide an inclusive environment, outdoor spaces must be accessible to all children. This includes developmentally appropriate access to materials, equipment, and natural features including gardens, sand, and water (Frost, Wortham, & Reifel, 2012; Rivkin & Stein, 2014; Wellhousen, 2002). Consider the following tips to modify outdoor environments for greater inclusivity:

· Ensure opportunities for quality social interactions by having enough resources to promote social play skills such as balls, bean bags, and play crates for imaginative play.

· Consider access (e.g., all entryways should be as level as possible) and surfaces (e.g., children with mobility challenges need a smooth, stable surface to walk on and something relatively soft to fall on).

· Provide challenges with differing degrees of difficulty, such as balance beams of different lengths, simple obstacle courses, or noncompetitive games.

· Visit sites such as the Discovery Garden, an inclusive outdoor space located at the University of Wisconsin–Madison or the Camden Children’s Garden to explore and discover the natural world to learn about gardening for children

Adaptations for Children with Physical Challenges

· Position playground equipment so that children can attain maximum range of reach, motion, muscle control, and visual contact.

· Place equipment on a low table at wheelchair height that is sturdy enough to withstand leaning for a child in a wheelchair.

· Define areas with visible barriers, marked pathways, and widened pathways. Take special safety precautions for children with mobility devices if they have to navigate grassy or pebble surfaces.

Adaptations for Children with Visual or Hearing Impairments

· Mark areas with audible and visual cues (such as wind chimes or bells) or have a playmate wear a brightly colored vest to provide visual clues.

· Attach Braille labels to materials to help children with low vision.

Adaptations for Children with Diverse Cognitive Needs

· Keep vocabulary simple, incorporate noncompetitive games, and shorten obstacle courses.

· Provide additional supervision for monitoring safety on equipment, limiting the number of materials available for choice, and communicating clear boundaries to those children who require it.

· Offer games that meet children’s varying needs. Games with simple rules and simple equipment can be technology based, movement oriented, or role plays. They motivate children to practice skills and concepts and optimize cooperation. For children with an intellectual disability, play games that have simple rules and use simple equipment such as tag or simple toss and throw games. You can use yarn balls, a balloon, underinflated beach balls, and scoopers for catching made from recycled bleach bottles. An obstacle course for children with hearing impairments helps them learn prepositions such as over, under, and through. A relay race for children with visual impairments during which children walk, run, and hop with a partner develops both large motor skills and cooperation with peers.

All children need to learn in a carefully designed environment. That kind of environment builds trust, supports creativity and the arts and reflects national standards.

Check Your Understanding 9.5

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Meeting Standards for Creative Environments

Professional organizations for teachers and most states have standards for high-quality classroom environments. These standards indicate that the environment should support children’s self- expression and thinking. It should also help children feel ownership in their learning by having some input into their work and its completion, assessment, and display.

Figure 9.15 provides quality indicators of classroom environments, guided by national standards. It includes examples that foster positive relationships, positive learning outcomes, a positive emotional climate, and a positive physical environment. Use Figure 9.15 to discuss other examples that contribute to these key indicators of creative environments.

Figure 9.15 Indicators of Creative Environments

While the following four standards come from different professional organizations, each addresses the same essential elements. Read the standards to identify the common elements among them. What else would you add from this chapter? Then, choose an age level (infants–toddlers, preschool–kindergarten, first–fourth grade) for which you will create a “state-of-the-art” environment. Now, write a scenario for one of the following that includes:

· All indicators for a particular age level.

· Some indicators for the same age level.

· No indicators for the same age level.

Compare and contrast your scenario with a peer and recommend three changes based on your conversation. Be willing to add other indicators and examples from the chapter that would provide evidence for your choices.

National Standards on Classroom Environments

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

Standard 1: Learning and Development

Teachers use their understanding of young children’s characteristics, needs, and the multiple interacting influences on development and learning to create environments that are healthy, respectful, supportive, and challenging for each child.

Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Initial Preparation

Standard 2: Learning Environments

Teachers create active learning environments that promote students’ cognitive, social, and emotional growth.

The Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) Model Core Teaching Standards

Standard 3: Learning Environments

Teachers Create Active Learning Environments That Promote Collaboration, Positive Social Interactions and Self-Motivation.

Conclusion

The environment has an important role in promoting creative thought and the arts. It is generally a child-centered, active place that meets children’s needs. Creative environments should be filled with numerous materials, resources, and opportunities for children to invent, solve problems, and communicate their ideas and work with a variety of audiences. They should also be places for children to work with peers collaboratively to solve open-ended, authentic problems.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONSAbout Creative Environments

Can I have a creative learning environment even if I am not particularly creative?

In her book Why Our Schools Need the Arts, Jessica Hoffman Davis (2008) talks about how every teacher, regardless of artistic ability, needs to teach the arts. Early childhood educators cannot be an expert in all the subjects they teach, including the arts. But every early childhood teacher can capitalize on young children’s natural creativity with a variety of artistic media and observe what children are learning. Ask yourself some of these questions: In what ways do I support children’s learning and build an arts-based environment? Do I provide opportunities for children to respond in unusual ways to projects and activities? Can I identify the most creative children in my class? An arts-based environment helps children learn how to learn. You want to feel comfortable inviting children into arts-based and to model appropriate attitudes toward the arts. By respecting children’s works of art as their way of interpreting their world, promoting children’s imagination and expression through “what if” questions and activities, and encouraging children’s imaginative ideas and self-evaluation, you can surely view yourself as a creative teacher.

Is recess necessary for today’s elementary classroom?

According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE, 2012), daily physical activity for children of all ages is important. Recess should be at least 20 minutes per day, which meets one-third of the recommended daily 60 minutes of regular, age-appropriate physical activity including outside play when possible. Even with the endorsements of various other national associations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the International Play Association, recess has been jeopardized as important. Recess is an essential component of the total educational experience for preschoolers, kindergartners, and school-age children. It provides them with discretionary time and opportunities to engage in physical activity that develops healthy bodies and minds (NASPE, 2012); improves children’s ability to perform academically (Pellegrini, 2005); influences children’s behavior and learning; and contributes to their social development. (Barros, Silver, & Stein, 2009). Unstructured physical play is a developmentally appropriate outlet for reducing stress in children’s lives; it improves children’s attentiveness, decreases restlessness, and improves resilience (NAECS-SDE, 2002). Unstructured recess periods with choices and free play combined with structured physical activity are the best for children. Unfortunately, recess is being cut to allow for more academic time focused on test preparation.

How can I ease English language learners into my classroom routines?

Only when students feel comfortable with your classroom routines will optimal second-language acquisition and academic learning occur. Using Maslow’s (1970) hierarchy of human needs as a foundation, you want to ensure safety, security, and a sense of belonging. To help second-language learners feel safe and secure, you might assign a personal buddy, who speaks the child’s language and follows the predictable routines in your classroom, to each newcomer. This plan creates a sense of security for all students but is especially important for students who are new to the language and culture of the school. In fact, your predictable routines may be the first stable feature some students have experienced in a long time. To help second-language learners achieve a sense of belonging, you might seat new students in the middle or front of the room, integrating them early in cooperative groups, and help them follow predictable routines.

All children need environments that foster creativity and the arts in which they can plan for their own learning, identify resources and materials, and interact with one another.

Chapter Summary

· Explain the theoretical and research base of creative learning environments. The works of Urie Bronfenbrenner (2004), Maria Montessori (1909, 1964), Loris Malaguzzi (1995), and Lev Vygotsky (1967, 1978), among others, provide important insights into designing creative environments that engage all children. Each theorist helps us understand the impact of the physical, social, cognitive, and digital environments that together support children’s creativity growth and arts-based learning.

· Plan an indoor environment for creativity and arts-based learning, Designing the indoor environment for creativity and arts-based learning begins with knowing the children, what they need to learn, and how they best can learn. Important components of indoor environments are room arrangement, a positive management system, arts-based centers, and transitions and routines.

· Create an outdoor environment that supports creativity and the arts. Outdoor environments need the same attention to equipment and materials, safety, space, supervision, and storage as indoor environments. Children need an outdoor environment that holds their interest over time and challenges their imagination.

· Identify teachers’ roles in providing an inviting, creative learning environment.  Teachers intentionally plan environments so that children can wonder, be curious, and make connections to possibilities in order to develop their creativity. Research shows that children’s creative and critical thinking skills develop early and provide the foundation for their later learning and development across all domains and across all content areas.

· Adapt the learning environment to meet the needs of each child. With some simple adjustments to the indoor and outdoor environments, it is easy to adapt arts-based and creative environments to support the needs of diverse learners.

Chapter Quiz 9:

 Click here to gauge your understanding of the concepts in this chapter.

Discuss: Perspectives on Creative Environments

1. Visualize your ideal classroom, both indoors and outdoors. Select an age range. How will you arrange desks or tables? Are there centers available? What else do you see in your “minds-eye”? Describe your rationale for your environment. Then create a digital representation of it. Use a word processing program, presentation software, or a concept map for this. You may also want to download classroom architect, a tool to outline your environment, from the website classroom4teachers.

2. Some teachers admit that they never think much about the outdoor environment and treat it only as a way to have children expend energy. What do you think of this practice? Why?

3. In your creative environment, what would you say to a parent or a colleague who said, “But they are just playing or drawing or making music! When will they learn something?”

4. Locate a teacher’s blog discussing one of the important features of creative environments. How do the blog entries compare to what you have just read in this chapter?

Assess: Using Published Rating Scales to Assess Classroom Environments

1. Published rating scales and accreditation procedures provide guidelines and indicators for assessing creative environments for children of all ages. These scales provide the salient items and criteria needed to evaluate high-quality classroom environments. From your library, select one of the following eight scales to evaluate a virtual classroom environment or your classroom’s indoor or outdoor environment.

§ DeViney, Duncan, Harris, Rody, & Rosenberry (2010). Rating Observation Scale for Inspiring Environments (ROSIE). Lewinsville, NC: Gryphon House.

Focuses on evaluating what is aesthetically beautiful and inspiring in the classroom environment through different lenses of color, light, furnishings, displays, textures, and focal points.

§ Frost, J. L. (1997). Playground Rating System (revised). In Frost, Wortham, & Reifel (2012). Play and Development (appendix). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill-Prentice Hall.

This appendix, which may be downloaded as a pdf, serves as a planning and evaluation tool for playgrounds. It contains 51 items to evaluate three different areas of playground quality. These areas are playground contents, playground safety, and the role of the adult on the playground. Each item is rated on a scale from 0 (“nonexistent”) to 5 (“All elements exist: Excellent function).

§ Harms, T., & Jacobs, E. V. & White, D. R. (2013). School-Age Care Environment Rating Scale: Updated Edition. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Contains 47 items organized within seven categories that include Space and Furnishings, Health and Safety, Activities, Interactions, Program Structure, Staff Development, and Special Needs.

§ Harms, T., Cryer, D., & Clifford, R. M. (2007). Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale (rev. ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Provides ratings for space, materials, and learning activities among the six categories addressed to ensure that the environment is developmentally appropriate for young children. Each item is rated “Inadequate” (does not meet custodial needs) to “Excellent” (high-quality care).

§ Harms, T., Cryer, D. & Clifford, R. M. (2004). Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (rev. ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Provides guidelines for assessing the quality of the physical and social environments for young children in seven areas, such as room arrangement, furnishings, displays, and creative activities.

§ Harms, T., Cryer, D., & Clifford, R. M. (2006). Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Contains criteria for furnishings and displays for children, space, learning activities, and program structure rated from “Inadequate” (not meeting custodial care needs) to “Excellent” (describing high-quality care).

§ Jones, E. (1977). Dimensions of teaching-learning environments.Pasadena, CA: Pacific Oaks. Describes the physical setting and the teacher’s behavior along four dimensions: soft/hard, simple/complex, intrusion/seclusion, and high mobility/low mobility.

§ National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2005). NAEYC early childhood program standards and accreditation criteria: The mark of quality in early childh     

c

Hide Rubrics

Rubric Name: Assignment 8 Rubric

This table lists criteria and criteria group name in the first column. The first row lists level names and includes scores if the rubric uses a numeric scoring method.Criteria

Exemplary

Satisfactory

Unsatisfactory

Unacceptable

Part 1: Art-Based Centers Nurture Creative Expression

20 points

The student provides a clear explanation of how art-based centers nurture creative expression.

15 points

The student provides a mostly clear explanation of how art-based centers nurture creative expression.

10 points

The student provides a weak or unclear explanation of how art-based centers nurture creative expression.

0 points

The student does not provide an explanation of how art-based centers nurture creative expression.

/ 20

Part 2: Adapting Art-Based Centers

30 points

The student provides a clear description of how teachers must adapt art-based centers for toddlers through fourth grade.

20 points

The student provides a mostly clear description of how teachers must adapt art-based centers for toddlers through fourth grade.

10 points

The student provides a weak or unclear description of how teachers must adapt art-based centers for toddlers through fourth grade.

0 points

The student does not provide a description of how teachers must adapt art-based centers for toddlers through fourth grade.

/ 30

Part 3: Managing a Center- Based Environment

30 points

The student provides a clear discussion of techniques teachers can use to manage a center-based environment in the creative classroom.

20 points

The student provides a mostly clear discussion of techniques teachers can use to manage a center-based environment in the creative classroom.

10 points

The student provides a weak or unclear discussion of techniques teachers can use to manage a center-based environment in the creative classroom.

0 points

The student does not provide a discussion of techniques teachers can use to manage a center-based environment in the creative classroom.

/ 30

Mechanics – Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling

5 points

Student makes no errors in grammar, punctuation, or spelling that distract the reader from the content.

4 points

Student makes 1-2 errors in grammar, punctuation, or spelling that distract the reader from the content.

2 points

Student makes 3-4 errors in grammar, punctuation, or spelling that distract the reader from the content.

0 points

Student makes more than 4 errors in grammar, punctuation, or spelling that distract the reader from the content.

/ 5

Writing Style – Organization, Transitions, Tone

5 points

The assignment is written with excellent organization, thoughtful transitions, and the appropriate tone.

4 points

This writing assignment is adequately organized, but has some errors in the transitions or the tone.

2 points

This writing assignment is poorly organized, or it contains ineffective transitions and/or inappropriate tone.

0 points

This writing assignment displays little to no organization or transitions, and/or does not use the appropriate tone.

/ 5

APA Format – Margins, Font, Spacing, Headings and cover page.

5 points

The margins, font, spacing, headings, and cover page are all formatted properly.

4 points

There are 1-2 errors in the formatting of the margins, font, spacing, headings, or cover page.

2 points

There are 3-4 errors in the formatting of the margins, font, spacing, headings, or cover page.

0 points

There are more than 4 errors in the formatting of the margins, font, spacing, headings, or cover page.

/ 5

APA Format – Citations and References

5 points

All sources used for quotes and facts are credible and cited, and the references and in-text citations are all properly formatted. Each reference has an in-text citation and in-text citation has a reference.

4 points

All sources used for quotes and facts are credible and cited, but slight errors are present in the format of the in-text citations or references. Or there may be one in-text citation or reference missing.

2 points

Some sources used for quotes and facts are either not credible or there are significant errors in the in-text citations and/or references. Or there are multiple missing in-text citations or references.

0 points

The sources used for quotes and facts are not credible and/or not cited. The in-text citations and/or references are not present.

/ 5

Total

Lesson 7

Theoretical and Research Base: Creative Learning Environments

The work of Urie Bronfenbrenner (2004), Maria Montessori (1909, 1964), Loris Malaguzzi (1995), and Lev Vygotsky (1967, 1978), among others, provide important insights into creative environments that engage all children. Following is a brief statement of each of these theorists’ assumptions about the influence of the environment on children’s creativity and how their theories might look in early childhood classrooms.

Bronfenbrenner

From Bronfenbrenner we learn about the important interactions of many environments, such as the family, school, neighborhood, peers, and media that are all connected and influence not only one another but also the developing child. His theory provides one way to view the effects of the social contexts of children’s lives on the child in the classroom.

An early childhood classroom influenced by Bronfenbrenner’s theory would include:

· Strong connections between home and school by listening to what families have to say about their children and their home interests so that both teachers and children can learn about every child’s community and culture.

· Families that are involved in children’s learning activities that you send home.

· Family members that are involved in a variety of roles in the classroom.

· Strong relationships with the community.

Montessori

From Montessori we learn that children need a carefully prepared, well-organized environment with authentic, homelike materials to reflect order and calm. The environment contains aesthetically pleasing and sensory-rich materials, child-sized furnishings, and self-correcting materials to be used in a specific way. Teachers carefully structure the environment for the children to complete tasks and develop at their own pace.

This girl is building a tower using Montessori cylinders in a prepared environment

A classroom environment influenced by Montessori would have:

· An aesthetically pleasing classroom with a wide selection of sensory materials and experiences for self-expression.

· Low shelves with materials that children can access easily and return materials to their original place.

· Large, open floor spaces.

· Considerable freedom for children to choose activities that have been prepared by the teacher.

· Teachers who respect children, guide their use of materials, and offer help if asked.

Malaguzzi and Reggio Emilia Schools

Malaguzzi calls the classroom environment the child’s “third teacher,” which conveys its powerful impact on children’s thinking and feeling. In Reggio schools, environments are places of beauty that are designed to promote children’s relationships, sense of community, and aesthetics. They are also places that value children’s relationships as a basis of learning. Reggio teachers respect children’s curiosity, ask focused questions, document children’s learning, and display children’s work that reflects their conversations, interests, and experiences.

This video shows key principles of the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. Notice the Reggio environment. How does it impact children’s creative thinking?

Classrooms inspired by Malaguzzi and Reggio Emilia schools would have:

· An aesthetically pleasing environment with lots of light and welcoming entryways.

· Children collaboratively exploring topics of interest to them for long periods of time.

· A variety of open-ended materials and media that stimulate children’s senses and curiosity and encourage investigation, inquiry, and discovery.

· Places for children’s “in progress” projects or products.

· Displays of children’s work that show children and their work are valued and respected.

Vygotsky

Vygotsky theorizes that a hands-on, interactive environment is children’s opportunity to work together. Teachers scaffold children’s thinking and relationships with one another. They guide children in creating themes based on their interests and focus on child-directed play for preschool children and productive activities in the primary grades.

Environments based on Vygotsky’s ideas would have:

· Small-group work that focuses on social interaction and learning from one another.

· Choices of projects for which children can seek help if needed.

· Dramatic play that includes children’s plans of what they want to do to increase the complexity of their play.

· Teachers who serve as partners in learning until children can apply a skill on their own.

Each of these theorists helps us understand the importance of the environment in promoting children’s creative thinking. Now, recall some of your own classrooms in which you were comfortable, felt valued, and looked forward to learning as compared to those in which you were uncomfortable, felt devalued, and felt like learning was a chore. Think about those classrooms as you read about the elements of creative classroom environments.

An aesthetically pleasing environment with lots of light impacts children’s creativity

Elements of Creative Learning Environments

Every learning environment contains physical, social, emotional, and virtual elements that support creative thinking and arts-based learning. Four main elements are climate, relationships, space, and time (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999; DeViney, Duncan, Harris, Rody, & Rosenberry, 2010; Davies et al., 2013; Kuh, 2014; Starko, 2014). Each of these is discussed next.

Climate

Climate is the emotional and academic feeling one gets from the environment and dictates to what extent children can be productive, engaged thinkers and learners. A classroom climate that promotes children’s creativity and the arts has the following:

· Teachers who care about children’s creative expression, intentionally plan active learning experiences that engage children in interesting projects, have high expectations for all students’ success, support children’s efforts in both the art forms and the subject areas, and create aesthetically stimulating classrooms.

· Children who feel safe enough to take risks, feel valued and appreciated, can invent, explore and initiate ideas, become engaged in learning, feel supported by the people in the environment, and have choices about work to be done. Asking questions, finding and solving problems are enthusiastically welcomed.

· Materials that capture and sustain children’s interest and imagination, are stored attractively and orderly, and spark ideas and active learning.

· Spaces that are aesthetically pleasing and evoke a warm, homey quality such as carpeted surfaces; soft, interesting colors and textures; multiple sources of light, and comfortable furniture in a safe, flexible, and orderly environment.

Classroom climate is greatly influenced by children’s relationships and by an environment’s aesthetic appeal (DeViney, Duncan, Harris, Rody, & Rosenberry, 2010; Gandini, Hill, Cadwell, & Schwall, 2005; Isbell & Raines, 2012; Kuh, 2014; New & Kantor, 2013). For example, Reggio schools explicitly create environments to build positive relationships and also appeal to children’s aesthetic senses. A visitor to such a school might see environments full of light, color, plants, and mirrors selected for their aesthetic characteristics. Great care is taken to create a beautiful environment—detail is given even to such seemingly inconsequential considerations as how bathrooms are decorated, how materials are stored, and how lunches and snacks are presented. Children are supported by the other children, the teachers, and the families for their unique ideas and abilities. The Reggio environment is caring, warm, and beautiful and is taken as seriously as is instruction.

Relationships

Guideline 1 of developmentally appropriate practice explains the importance of a caring classroom (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009). Such an environment values children’s relationships with each other, with teachers, and within their families. Relationships affect all aspects of children’s development and learning and school success. Environments with high-quality relationships affirm diversity, have an “ethic of care,” and connect with children’s families.

· Affirm diversity: High-quality relationships help children feel valued so they can be productive learners. They affirm the diversity of each child, provide equal access to learning opportunities, and educate children for a diverse world. The children live values of cooperation, equality, tolerance, and shared learning (Bullard, 2014; Copple & Bredekamp, 2009; Williams & Cooney, 2006).

· Have an ethic of care: Caring is at the heart of healthy relationships. You can show care by learning about children’s interests and offering enough support so children can become responsible learners. The ethic of care is aptly discussed by Nel Noddings (1995), who states that caring teachers are an essential part of responsible education.

· Connect with children’s families: It is well accepted that strong families make strong environments for learning. Involving families shows that you value their children and want to build respectful, two-way communication about their children’s learning (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009; National Association for the Education of Young Children [NAEYC], 2005). Sending home positive notes, emails, or hands-on learning activities to be used at home lets families know that you care about their child’s progress.

Positive relationships among all the people in the learning environment directly affect how children learn to think, develop, create, and grow.

Space

Space sends a message to children about creative thinking. Space should be organized, have a purpose, respect children, enhance their learning and creative thinking, and be aesthetically pleasing. At a minimum, you will need space that accommodates different numbers of children as well as some open space where children can engage in dramatic retellings, share their learning through movement, and enjoy each other’s creative work. Most teachers use classroom space quite inventively (Clayton, 2001; Crawford, 2004; DeViney, Duncan, Harris, Rody, & Rosenberry, 2010; Starko, 2014).

Consider the following types of spaces you will need in your environment.

· Spaces for a range of group sizes. Children need spaces to work alone and in small and large groups. Teachers can use flexible materials and furnishings, such as easels, movable cabinets, storage shelves, and tables to define areas and maximize the potential of any room regardless of its size or shape. If, for example, children are in a school building that is undergoing renovations and want to reconstruct what they are seeing with blocks or other large materials, flexible furnishings allow for spaces to be increased and decreased in response to the children’s current project needs and interests.

· Spaces for quiet and noisy activities. Well-balanced classroom space separates quiet and noisy activity and creates safe traffic patterns. It also provides small spaces necessary for young children to create imaginative play worlds in which they can engage for long periods of time. These arrangements give both children and teachers more control and choice over their creative work and their play.

· Spaces for privacy. Some children need a periodic rest from the activity of the classroom in a place to restore energy or to think quietly before resuming classroom work. Certain activities, such as listening to a story tape, may be enjoyed more fully in a secluded place. It is important to have a special, comfortable place with pillows, soft animals and furnishings, and soft lighting where children can be alone. If classrooms lack such places, children often create their own, such as the first graders who found that the space underneath their teacher’s seldom used desk was a favorite place to read. Figure 9.1 lists ways of creating small spaces to increase the quality of children’s play and creative thought.

Figure 9.1 Suggestions for Creating Small Spaces

Spaces for sharing work. These spaces may be physical, such as bulletin boards or display cases, or virtual such as wikis or blogs where children can share their learning. Sharing work helps children stay engaged and communicate their learning—an important 21st-century skill.

Children often need time alone before resuming classroom work.

· Spaces that accommodate children with special needs. Adapting space for children with special needs helps them feel part of the classroom community. A child in a wheelchair, for example, needs additional space to maneuver or sit at a table. Children who are impulsive often need two distinct spaces—one space to work alone and one space to be in a group. Children who are ELLs need spaces where they can collaborate with peers in English so they are not always working alone. How you arrange and use space impacts how you will use your time to nurture children’s creative work.

Time

Time conveys the importance of an activity or experience. More than 200 years ago, Benjamin Franklin referred to time as “the stuff of life.” The same could be said about time and teaching, for many teachers think there never is enough time to cover the material.

There is no doubt that the creative process takes time. Children need enough time to explore and examine many ideas before completing them. Time influences three aspects of creative thinking: self-expression and self-regulation, attention span, and complex thinking.

· Time influences children’s self-expression and self-regulation. When children have enough time during the school day to think creatively, they become more self-directed learners. Long blocks of time build children’s ability to persist, concentrate, and stay motivated with an experience. Teachers who are sensitive to time factors must decide when to extend or stop an activity or when to capitalize on a “teachable moment.” Classroom environments need ample time to foster children’s imaginative spirit and original thinking.

· Time affects children’s attention span. Many teachers erroneously believe that because children have short attention spans, activities must be changed constantly. When children are engaged in meaningful learning, they can concentrate for comparatively long periods of time. In the schools of Reggio Emilia, for example, very young children remain with a topic for as long as they show an interest in it. Often these topics last for several months (Edwards, Gandini, & Forman, 1998; New & Kantor, 2013). In elementary schools, children remain with highly interactive and engaging projects and investigations for long periods of time.

· Time affects the complexity of children’s thinking. With ample time, children can use the kinds of complex thinking processes used by inventors—curiosity, persistence, imagination, communication, and problem-solving. Higher levels of play, such as sociodramatic play, require considerable amounts of time to plan and carry out an activity that is particularly engaging and meaningful to the child (Edwards, Gandini, & Forman, 1998; Garreau & Kennedy, 1991). Long-time blocks increase children’s ability to move from exploration to more complex investigative play with materials, people, and events. To illustrate, one primary-grade teacher helped her children observe and record changes of plant growth over time. The children classified those data by similarities and differences in types of plants, answered questions using scientific processes, and concluded their study with cooking, dramatizing, and illustrating the plant growth cycle. In this example, long blocks of time investigating a process (change in plant growth) helped the children deepen their conceptual understanding. These influences on the learning environment—climate, relationships, space, and time—are critical for children’s creative processes. Classrooms that value children’s exploration and inquiry within safe and secure settings support children’s sense of wonder and their changing needs, interests, and abilities. Figure 9.2 contains a checklist for identifying key elements that affect creative learning environments. What questions do you have about implementing these environmental factors?

Figure 9.2 Checklist for Elements of Creative Learning Environments

Climate

· Have I created an aesthetically pleasing environment that stimulates children’s imagination, supports learning, and inspires creativity?

Yes No In Progress

· Does my environment reflect the identity of the family and community of the children?

Yes No In Progress

· Do the colors, furnishings, natural objects, texture, and lighting inspire children’s sense of wonder?

Yes No In Progress

Relationships

· Do the children feel a sense of belongingness and community?

Yes No In Progress

· Am I regularly showing respect about children’s sense of wonder, curiosity, and creative problem-solving?

Yes No In Progress

· Am I promoting appreciation and respect among the children and families?

Yes No In Progress

Space

· Is my space organized so the materials are accessible to all children?

Yes No In Progress

· Am I using children’s work to personalize the space?

Yes No In Progress

· Have I defined areas that are clear, safe, and that encourage individual, small group, and large group work?

Yes No In Progress

Time

· Does my schedule encourage creative activity through hands-on learning, in-depth projects, and more complex play?

Yes No In Progress

· Is there enough uninterrupted time for children to explore, experiment, and problem-solve during selected activities?

Yes No In Progress

· Am I maximizing flexibility with the time that I have to use?

Yes No In Progress

Sources: Based on Bullard (2014); Copple & Bredekamp (2009); DeViney, Duncan, Harris, Rody, & Rosenberry (2010a, 2010b); Isbell & Raines (2007); Jacobs & Crowley (2007).

Teachers’ Reflections on Classroom Environments

Preservice Teachers

“As a student teacher, I noticed the children often started cleaning up at centers almost as soon as they initiated an activity because so little time was allotted there. When I had responsibility for full-time teaching, I extended the time blocks and saw its benefits on children’s creative thinking.”

“I used to think that classrooms should be serious, ‘no nonsense’ places to learn. I now believe that warm, safe, and homey environments are more beneficial to fostering creative thinking.”

Inservice Teachers

“The idea of the environment as the ‘third teacher’ has prompted joyful wanderings in my own head of the possibilities associated with this notion. How to make this happen in my kindergarten class is daunting to me now, but I am convinced of the need for it and am pursuing it.”

“As a school board member, I was asked to examine the playground space at one of our elementary schools and hesitated at first. Playground space just did not shout out creative thinking or priority to me in this time of standards and accountability. Now, I realize how the playground can hold the key to hands-on extensions and expand children’s view of their life, the world, and the future.”

Your Reflections

· What do you think is the impact of the classroom environment on children’s and teachers’ creative thinking?

· How might your knowledge and beliefs about creative environment affect children’s self-expression, and learning?

· Explain how you would go about designing your own classroom environment and provide a rationale for your decisions.

Indoor Environments That Foster Creativity and Arts-Based Learning

Designing the indoor environment for creativity and arts-based learning begins with knowing the children, what they need to learn, and how they best can learn. The next consideration includes four interlocking environments—the physical, social, cognitive, and digital environments—that together support children’s creative growth and arts-based learning (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009; Kuh, 2014; Saracho, 2012). The physical environment includes such arrangements as furniture placement, accessibility of stimulating materials, pathways, and large- and small-group meeting and work areas. It must be a safe place to be and provide novel and flexible opportunities for creating. There is also the social environment that involves interactions among the people. It includes the kinds of relationships, respect, and acceptance of individuals, families, and communities that children experience as well as children’s culture and language. The cognitive environment includes those learning experiences, materials, and opportunities that enhance creativity. It focuses on the knowledge, skills, and abilities children need to acquire in order to think and behave creatively. And the digital environment is a simulated, virtual place accessed through computers. It uses various technology tools, websites, and devices to access virtual worlds through which children learn and develop. How these four environments are designed directly affects children’s creativity and arts-based learning.

Classroom environments that value curiosity and eagerness to learn provide children with a balance of self-selected, self-directed, and teacher-selected activities. The following section describes two important components of indoor environments that nurture creativity and the arts: room arrangement and arts-based centers.

Room Arrangement

Room arrangement refers to the way space is organized. It can be planned, such as the art center and the areas around it, or unplanned, such as a cubbyhole between two shelving units that attracts children. Room arrangement affects children’s creativity, productivity, and interactions with one another and with materials (Bullard, 2014; Copple & Bredekamp, 2009; Jacobs & Crowley, 2007; Kuh, 2014).

When arranging space for creative experiences, keep in mind the following:

1. The environment communicates expectations. If you are invited to dinner, you would behave differently at a cookout with paper plates and plastic utensils from a formal dinner party with china, silver, and crystal. Room arrangement works in the same way. Well-organized, carefully arranged space dictates how children may behave, interact, and use materials, and affects their work pace. It fosters self-regulation and student engagement, which creativity and arts-based learning require. In contrast, poorly organized space invites interruptions, decreases children’s attention spans, increases the likelihood of conflicts, and demands more teacher direction.

2. Space must be easy to supervise. Teachers need to be able to scan the room from all vantage points. In this way, you can facilitate children’s behaviors that support learning goals and redirect those that do not. It is equally important to distinguish between the child’s and the adult’s environment. Adults and children view their surroundings from different perspectives. Both usually attend to what is at their eye level.

3. Materials must be accessible, appropriate, and easy to use. Make sure you have plenty of shelves so that children can reach and see the materials that are there. One preschool teacher arranged the manipulative materials such as large Tinkertoys and shape sorters along low, open shelves that face a carpeted area away from traffic flow. Because children need a lot of floor space to play with them, this teacher provided the space for them to do so. She made her appropriate materials accessible and easy to use, which enhanced children’s sense of ownership, encouraged creative problem-solving, and fostered exchanges of materials from one part of the classroom to another.

4. Be alert to traffic patterns. Clear pathways provide for a smooth and easy flow of traffic throughout the room. When centers are too close to one another or crowded around the outside of the room, children cannot freely move among them. To maintain freedom of movement that keeps children focused on their creative processes, paths should not be used for any other purpose. Unclear paths often distract children on their way to a space or lead children to intrude in others’ ongoing activities and concentration.

Room arrangement is a powerful environmental tool that affects children’s creativity. Figure 9.3 shows room arrangements for three age groups: toddlers, preschoolers/kindergartners, and children in grades 1 to 4. You can also download free PDF guides for room plans for children from birth through age 5 by going to the website for Environments and choosing planning guides.

Figure 9.3 Room Arrangements

This video describes seven principles of design for creating inspiring and inviting spaces for children. How does Principle 3, Furnishings Define Space, affect children’s creative thinking? What other principles capture your attention?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RD9XOow20E

Arts-Based Centers

Arts-based centers are inviting, self-contained spaces where children engage in creative activities. These activities can reinforce skills and concepts or spur new interests while promoting children’s critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity (Bullard, 2014; Copple & Bredekamp, 2009; Isbell & Exelby, 2001; Mayesky, 2015; NAEYC, 2015b; Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2012); Saracho, 2012). Good arts-based centers contain a variety of learning experiences, easily accessible arts-based books, materials, resources, and supplies that accomplish the following:

· Promote active learning, planning, decision-making, problem-solving, and originality in all subject areas.

· Increase social and verbal interaction and various forms of play among peers.

· Offer choices to increase children’s creative thought and help them manage their time.

· Reflect children’s interests, families, and cultural backgrounds to motivate learning.

Arts-Based Centers for Different Age Levels

Arts-based centers are appropriate for every child. Each requires a clear purpose, a range of materials and activities, and a means of assessment or evaluation. While centers must take into account individual needs, interests, and levels of learning, there are unique considerations for children at different ages.

Toddlers need centers that contain a variety of sensory materials with different levels of complexity, as well as time for exploration. They must have low, open shelves to display and help the children find materials that reflect familiar people and places matched to their developmental level. Toddlers also need materials that encourage exploration and large motor development with climbing and push–pull toys, provide a private space to watch others play or to rest with a soft toy, and offer sensory and creative experiences with music, science, pretense, construction, manipulatives, and sand and water to encourage different types of play.

Preschoolers and kindergartners need centers that meet all of the requirements for toddlers and contain a variety of interesting materials and experiences that can be used to role-play (such as hats and shoes) and to construct (such as wood, glue, and blocks). The materials must reflect the expanding world of their community, their culture, and their increasing interest in all subject areas; the activities must promote creative problem-solving, communication, and collaboration.

First and second graders need centers that enhance their developing logical thinking and engage them in focused learning that supports critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. Centers help integrate subjects meaningfully across the curriculum, help children demonstrate competence in a particular area, and feel part of a peer group. Their active learning experiences should capitalize on their need to feel competent and successful.

Third and fourth graders like resources in their centers that include literacy materials, challenge cards, hands-on learning, and ongoing projects. They need opportunities to conduct experiments, work on long-term projects, and use data to support their learning. Regardless of age, all children require centers to explore opportunities to connect their learning through art, drama, music, and play.

This child is using modeling material to create.

As you watch this video about preschool centers, notice how the teacher creates multiple areas for centers. What do you see as the purpose of her centers, and how do the learning activities promote creative problem-solving?

Teachers need systems for managing centers. The following section provides suggestions for managing arts-based centers in your classroom.

Managing Arts-Based Centers

You will want to introduce centers slowly and teach children the basic skills and expectations needed to participate in a center activity. Arts-based centers should promote children’s self-expression through an art form such as art, music, drama, and play and contain all the materials needed to complete an activity, including instructions, checklists, progress sheets, and options for exploring the concepts and theme. The following strategies will help you manage an arts-based center (Bullard, 2014; NAEYC, 2015; Saracho, 2012; Starko, 2014).

1. Create centers that are appropriate for a particular group of children. Centers that reflect your children’s needs, interests, and cultures invite participation. You might ask, “What is appropriate for children to learn at this center?” “What is its purpose?” “How will the children express what they know?” Managing centers involves assessing what children know and can do, inviting their ideas about units of study and help in collecting items for that unit, and involving children in planning procedures for its use. For example, in Mr. Kennedy’s second-grade classroom there are two large child-created displays related to their unit on insects. One display contains a variety of three-dimensional imaginative insects that children created at the art center. Another shows children’s illustrated stories about their creations. These centers contain interesting and accessible materials that invite children’s participation, are attractively stored in color-coded plastic baskets and tubs, and are clearly labeled to help children keep them properly organized.

2. Provide guidelines for using the center. Some teachers provide mini “field trips” before using a center. These excursions help children understand the center’s boundaries, highlight the use of materials and equipment, suggest roles and activities, and give children a sense of how much time they have for sustained play, exploration, and investigation. They also help children know what learning goals are expected. In Mr. Kennedy’s second grade, he organizes children’s work as well as materials. Children use individual mailboxes made from recycled 2-liter or gallon jugs with the tops cut off, egg cartons as scissors holders, and a clothesline to display their art. Organizing children’s work provides children with a sense of order that helps them gain a sense of control over their environment, as illustrated here.

Use planning tools. Planning tools, such as planning boards, procedure charts, and learning contracts, are visual and concrete ways to help children focus on the beginning and end of an activity, develop organizational skills related to their own activities, manage their time, work independently and with others, assume responsibility for their own activities, and reflect on their decisions. Planning boards help teachers limit the number of children in a center activity at any one time, evaluate and change centers as needed, and observe children’s choices.

Planning boards and procedure charts can be easily made from pegboard or tagboard, pictures or labels for centers, and name tags. Some teachers use a magnetic board with small magnets or magnetic tape strips on the board and paper clips glued on the back of cards. For children who are not yet readers, children’s names and the names of the centers can be illustrated pictorially. Figure 9.4 illustrates a planning board used with preschoolers, kindergartners, and first graders; Figure 9.5 illustrates procedure charts used with primary-grade children.

Figure 9.4 A Planning Board

Figure 9.5 Procedure Charts

1. Learning contracts are organizational tools to guide independent study, promote autonomy, differentiate instruction, and provide opportunities for self-assessment (Tomlinson, 2014). Contracts allow children to choose what work to do, when to work, with whom to work, and where to work. For example, after studying different animals, some second graders contracted to extend their knowledge through art by making drawings or constructing models of their favorite animal; others chose to write original songs and raps; still others asked to create scenarios, such as “Meet My Pet Boa Constrictor.” Figure 9.6illustrates learning contracts for preschoolers and kindergartners; Figure 9.7shows learning contracts for first and second graders; and Figure 9.8illustrates learning contracts for third and fourth graders.

2. Assess and facilitate learning. You can use arts-based centers to observe, assess, and document children’s learning related to specific outcomes. Centers can also be used to guide children’s choices, to model behavior for children who are reluctant to participate in a center project, or to support children’s ideas and projects. Children can also self-assess their own progress.

Figure 9.6 Learning Contract for Preschoolers and Kindergartners

Figure 9.7 Learning Contract for First and Second Graders

Figure 9.7 Learning Contract for First and Second Graders

Name:   Week of:  

Topic:  

What do I want to know?  

How will I find out?  

How will I share my learning?  

What will I do if I need help?  

Teacher signature:  

Figure 9.8 Learning Contract for Third and Fourth Graders

1. Document children’s progress and evaluate center use. Because children are engaged in a variety of center experiences at the same time, it is important to have a system in place to show what children can do, such as a checklist for documenting children’s literacy learning through play or understanding mathematical concepts through art. Carefully designed displays provide another catalyst for student learning. They inspire curiosity and underscore children’s accomplishments and pride in their work. Documentation also helps teachers ask themselves whether children are engaged in meaningful activity and whether the centers provide ongoing opportunities and challenges.

All centers can offer children opportunities to engage in meaningful learning. Next we discuss the development of arts-based centers.

Creating Arts-Based Centers

Centers can be permanent, temporary, portable, or rotating. They include commonly found materials and activities to support children’s creative processes. The best centers have a clear purpose, a rich variety of safe materials that invite exploration, experimentation, problem-solving, and connections to real life, and a means of assessment or evaluation.

Art Center

The art center enables children to investigate, plan, and make art using a wide variety of materials, including children’s literature with engaging illustrations. Some teachers display works from famous artists in or near the center to enhance aesthetic appreciation. The art center should be located near a water source. If not, use plastic sheeting to cover carpeted areas or tables when children are using messy materials.

In the art center, children should be actively learning and express that learning. To illustrate, two preschoolers were making a menu for their Mexican restaurant theme center. They used the art center to illustrate the menu and then used it to elaborate on their play. In a third-grade class, Keenan used the art center to create a glove finger puppet as a prop for his story on dragons, while Mrs. Ritchie’s fourth graders created flyers advertising pets available for adoption to help the local animal shelter as a follow-up to reading Shiloh (Naylor, 1991). The children researched facts about the available pets and created an advertisement for one of them, which included a drawing of the animal, its age, and what it likes to eat and play with. In these classrooms, the art center provided a vehicle for integrating the curriculum.

Block and Construction Center

The block and construction center helps children develop essential 21st-century, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics) skills and concepts. It also increases children’s social and problem-solving skills and expands their design and engineering skills by representing or communicating their ideas through blocks. The center should be located away from busy traffic areas and with ample space for construction. It should contain a wide assortment of blocks and accessories, such as human figures, road signs, and small-wheeled vehicles for young children and a variety of construction sets and materials for older children. Literacy materials and tools encourage children to sketch their “blueprints” on paper, label a building they’ve created, or write or recreate a story about their experience and share their constructions with a friend. The book Block City (Stevenson, 2005) stimulates children’s imaginations about block use. Math and science materials and tools in this center help children use knowledge of structures and functions by making designs with blocks, graphing attributes and types of blocks used in a construction, or building a maze. Blocks should be accessible on open shelves marked with paper silhouettes of each block size and shape. Placing the center near the dramatic play center for younger children increases the interchange among centers (Hirsch, 1996; NAEYC, 2015a; Pollman, 2010).

Cooking and Baking Center

This center piques children’s curiosity about food and food preparation and can promote their thinking about healthy eating. Children should be carefully supervised and use safe cooking utensils. By making age-appropriate, healthy recipes, children learn many skills and concepts in the core subject areas as well as in the arts. For example, when they measure, count, cut a whole into parts, or divide ingredients, they are doing math; when they observe changes in foods as they mix, taste, or cook it, they are doing science; and when they read a recipe as they prepare food, they are engaged in literacy. The cooking and baking center should contain recipe books for children at all developmental levels, such as The Early Sprouts Cookbook (Kalich, Bauer, & McPartlin, 2010) or Family Fun Cooking with Kids (Cook, 2006) and a pictograph of the recipe that children are making if they cannot read or a standard recipe for those who can read.

Figure 9.9 shows a pictograph for making Stone Soup based on the popular folktale Stone Soup (Brown, 1997).

Discovery and Science Center

In this “hands-on” center, children develop scientific and conceptual understandings by actively exploring materials and activities that bring science to life. Children gain firsthand experiences with concepts about animals, vegetation, and minerals, as well as the equipment used to study them such as scales, magnets, and simple measurement tools. Materials in this center may include boxes of collected items, such as shells or rocks, for sorting, classifying, comparing and contrasting, old appliances or radios with different tools to take apart the used items, and games for classifying or categorizing objects from the natural environment (like seeds, leaves, or insects). Often children use these materials for ongoing projects in other centers. To illustrate, one kindergartner took the magnifying glass from the discovery center to examine sick animals she was tending in the dramatic play area. A fourth grader added information about his plant’s growth to the classroom graph. The discovery and science center also includes experiences with sand, rice, and water that offer many opportunities for teaching about safety issues with the materials being used.

Children develop scientific understandings by exploring scientific materials.

WavebreakMediaMicro/Fotolia

Figure 9.9 Recipe for Stone Soup

Drama Center

The drama center encourages children to use their imagination and problem-solving ability while experimenting with roles, behaviors, social skills, and communication. It also promotes career and cultural awareness as children explore various occupations and cultures. Drama centers are often transformed into thematic units of study, such as a bakery during a unit on economics, a shoe store during a unit on measurement, and an artist’s studio during a unit on famous artists. Whatever the theme, a drama center provides rich opportunities for building literacy and math skills and concepts. Adding pencils, pads, literature books, and other print materials encourages children’s voluntary use of literacy and numeracy. Prop boxes are appropriate in this center and enhance children’s creative work.

Library and Literacy Center

This center invites children to read a variety of print materials and should be located in a quiet area of the classroom. It should be an attractive, inviting, aesthetically pleasing area stocked with books as well as digital and visual images such as graphics, animation sound, and video that match children’s interests and their topics of study. Some teachers use a rocking chair, a seat removed from a car, or an old bathtub filled with pillows as well as displays of children’s art that illustrates book jackets or characters from their favorite books to create a comfortable area for browsing and reading.

The center should also contain printed signs and questions that invite children to explore the book selections. Some teachers use the Sunday comics, old catalogs, puppets and prop boxes for retelling stories, recycled copies of children’s magazines, and mobiles of information about a featured author. Interesting writing materials, such as recycled colored paper from a print shop and unusual pens and pencils, should be available. For younger children, this center encourages early literacy play—an important precursor to learning to read and write. For older children, this center provides opportunities to self-select books that range from easy-to-read materials to high-quality literature, to match students’ ability and interest levels as well as opportunities to discuss, share, and enact literature. Literacy centers can display photographs of children and families in the classroom, classroom events, and a class photo album to stimulate conversation about the classroom community and to build cultural awareness.

A literacy center should invite children to enjoy books together.

Manipulative and Math Center

Manipulative and Math Center

This center should capture children’s natural curiosity to observe, classify, sort, and order. It should contain materials and provide experiences that help children inquire and solve mathematical problems.

Manipulative materials such as buttons, colored blocks, counting rods or frames, cubes, and geoboards encourage children’s growing mathematical understandings such as numbers, geometry, measurement, classification, ordering, and comparing. Locate the center near low, open shelves that contain an organized system for storing manipulatives and math games such as dominoes. Writing materials, a whiteboard, and a flannel board should also be available for children to create their own math stories and explore and practice mathematical skills and concepts (Pollman, 2010). In this center, for example, younger children might measure objects and determine the longest or shortest using nonstandard units of measure such as picture cards or buttons; older children can estimate in standard units and compare and record their findings using a ruler, recording the data, and explaining their strategy. You will also want to include a variety of quality children’s books that reinforce mathematical concepts, such as One Dragon’s Dream, A Counting Book (Pavey, 2009), Emily’s First 100 Days of School (Wells, 2000), or Anno’s Counting Book (Anno, 1977) for counting; books for problem-solving such as Monster Math Picnic (Maccarone, 1998); books for sorting and classifying such as Together (Hutchins, 2009); or books for creating patterns such as Growing Patterns (Campbell, 2010). For more specific suggestions on math center activities, search the website for K-5 Math Teaching Resources.

Media and Music Center

This center should offer children something to do such as inventing music with simple musical instruments or PVC pipes; something to listen to such as music and instruments from other cultures; something to learn about such as composers or instruments; and something to share or take home such as drawings of instruments or a take-home bag containing materials to make a homemade instrument (Jalongo & Isenberg, 2012; Saracho, 2012). Electronic media, such as CDs, computers, audiotapes, MP3 players, and videotapes can be used as vehicles for playful expression with music and movement. The center needs to be located near an electrical outlet. Many teachers use laminated posters with rebus-type instructions on operating and caring for the equipment. Computers, placed on tabletops at eye level, should be arranged so that two or three children may work together at any one time. The media and music center activates children’s musical intelligence and offers diverse learners an important avenue for learning. It should be as open and accessible as other centers so that children can use the equipment for play and investigation.

Sand, Water, and Sensory Center

In this center that can be used both indoors and outdoors, children use sensory materials to control their world and think creatively. Indoor sensory centers that use sand and water need a table located near a water source and away from a wall so children can work on all four sides. Accessories for sand and water centers include assorted cups and molds, small vehicles, bulbs and syringes, and assorted sifters and funnels. Sensory centers that use dry, tactile materials can use any type of plastic tub or even a sturdy cardboard box. Materials for sensory exploration may include rice, assorted papers and fabrics of different textures (hard, soft, bumpy, rough, smooth, silky), or Styrofoam peanuts. Figure 9.10 shows four-year-old Trevor’s drawing of playing at the sand table and Trisha’s drawing of herself at the water table.

Figure 9.10 Head Start Children’s Interpretation of the Sand and Water Table

(a) Four-year-old Trevor illustrates a sand table. Notice the enclosed area for the table with the sand inside.

Technology Center

The technology center can expand a child’s understanding about a topic or reinforce concepts already learned. Age-appropriate software maximizes children’s inventive thinking, spatial and visual learning, self-expression, ability to be part of a team, and creation of high-quality products, all of which are essential skills for the 21st century (NAEYC & Fred Rogers Center, 2012). Selecting appropriate apps, Internet sites, or virtual manipulatives is also important. Whether it is an information site, which helps children gain new knowledge and answer questions; a communication site, which puts children in touch with others; or a publication site, which provides a place for children to post their work, all sites must be evaluated using stringent criteria and specific evaluation tools.

Writing Center

In this center children experiment with writing and illustrating in many forms, from scribbling or drawing to composing poems and stories. Sometimes they come here from other centers to make signs or captions for their work. Arts-based writing centers contain whiteboards, staplers, glue, pencils, markers and crayons, and an assortment of papers in various sizes, shapes, and colors for creating, writing, and illustrating. Magazines, newspapers, and old catalogs are also available for children to illustrate stories or add to their creations. Some teachers keep a box of children’s drawings for others to use to create stories.

Arts-based centers offer children more than just opportunities to engage in an activity; they offer children the chance to explore, investigate, and think in new and creative ways. It is unlikely that you will use all of these centers simultaneously. Most teachers use about six permanent centers that align with their curriculum and periodically transform them to support ongoing units of study.

Find out more about centers for preschool children by watching this video. How do these centers accommodate children’s diverse ways of learning? What other arts-based materials would you add?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xCCBIvgWQ0

Be sensitive to children’s pace of learning and help them move comfortably from one activity to another by paying attention to transitions and routines.

Transitions and Routines in a Creative Environment

Transitions are times during the day when children move from one activity to the next. Routines are regular and predictable events that form the basis of the daily, weekly, and monthly schedule. They are integral to a safe and supportive creative learning environment. Clear transitions and routines help children sense the passage of time (such as snack follows cleanup or math follows lunch), prepare for the day (such as singing a good morning song or chant), stay focused, and anticipate events (such as playing a musical selection at the end of each day).

Transitions and routines consume 20 to 35% of a preschooler’s day and about 15% of an elementary child’s day. Unless intentionally planned, they can be difficult and stressful periods for both children and teachers. Developmentally appropriate transitions and routines are essential and differ from other activities in purpose, length, frequency, children’s ages, and the available physical facilities. Thoughtfully planned transitions and routines provide a predictable environment that minimizes chaos and empowers children.

Incorporating the arts for transitions and routines engages children and adds meaning to the experience. For example, you can use familiar music to move young children to a new activity, such as singing the song “Riding in an Airplane” by Raffi, for preschool children who then can pretend to fly to the art tables equipped with paper, markers, and photographs of airplanes and make appropriate airplane noises along the way. This will connect their study of transportation with music and art and assure a positive transition. For elementary children, you can use drama to create a morning class news show with children assuming different roles such as news reporter, weather reporter, and travel reporter who can report on characters from literature or events from social studies. Figure 9.11 provides tips for managing transitions and routines in a creative environment.

Just as teachers regularly consider designing the indoor environment, they need to consider the design of the outdoor environment. An engaging outdoor environment stimulates innovative and imaginative thinking and other creative habits of mind. In the next section, we examine the outdoor environment.

Figure 9.11 Tips for Managing Transition and Routines

Sources: Based on Bullard (2014); Clayton (2001); Copple & Bredekamp, 2009; Hemmeter, Ostosky, Artman, & Kinder (2008); Howell & Reinhard, 2015; NAEYC (2005).

Outdoor Environments That Foster Creativity and Arts-Based Learning

Outdoor environments that foster creativity and arts-based learning require you to decide how you and the children may use the space. Outdoor spaces open possibilities for children to explore, investigate, follow their interests, and perhaps start an authentic project (Frost, Wortham, & Reifel, 2012; Garrick, 2009; Kuh, 2014; Rivkin & Stein, 2014; Tovey, 2007).

Research shows that outdoor learning improves children’s ability to focus, pay attention to “green spaces” that influence their health and well-being, and improve their achievement, autonomy, sense of responsibility, and behavior. Outdoor learning also contributes to children’s ability to problem-solve, cooperate, observe, and navigate with challenging and novel materials. These skills are foundational to early childhood practice (Beames, Higgins, & Nicol, 2012; Davies et al., 2013).

Well-planned outdoor spaces stimulate children’s sense of wonder, imagination, and appreciation of their natural world. They offer more complexity, such as uneven ground, different plants and colors, or weather changes. They also allow children to use natural materials and focus more on challenges and problem-solving skills. During outdoor play, children have large spaces for whole body movement, such as running and climbing, can engage with nature and the outdoors, such as examining local animals, habitats, seeds, bugs, or other vegetation, focus on child-initiated activity, and have fewer noise restrictions than they do indoors. Learning outdoors helps children to make connections using many multiple intelligences (Gardner, 2009) and promotes the 21st-century skills of creativity and innovation, communication and collaboration, and critical thinking, and problem-solving (Partnership for 21st Century Learning Skills, 2012). Thus, you will need ample time for children to explore, investigate, experiment, and problem-solve in space that is flexible. Outdoor environments benefit all children and should be utilized year-round.

Features of Creative Outdoor Environments

Think about what Ms. Ogur, a preschool teacher did to enrich her outdoor space by adding some complexity and variety to it. She brought out a wagon; created an obstacle course from old, worn tires; and made some simple traffic signs out of scrap lumber and paint. She also brought out the police officer’s hat from the dramatic play center and markers and scrap paper from the literacy center. From these simple additions, the children created elaborate play about accidents, parking, and speeding. Some children even created and handed out parking tickets. On other occasions, the children used the wagon as an ambulance to transport an accident victim to the hospital, where another elaborate scenario was enacted. Ms. Ogur even used the traffic signs to reinforce bicycle safety.

Ms. Ogur illustrates how a resourceful teacher can create a stimulating outdoor environment even with limited resources. She also demonstrates how well-planned outdoor spaces can spark children’s curiosity, imagination, and problem-solving ability with a variety of stimulating materials and equipment. Good outdoor spaces promote all forms of play (functional, constructive, dramatic, and games), offer children numerous possibilities for social interaction and gross motor development, and are developmentally appropriate and aesthetically pleasing (Frost, Wortham, & Reifel, 2012; Garrick, 2009; Greenman, 2005; Rivkin & Stein, 2014).

Creative outdoor environments have three features that enhance creativity and arts-based learning. They include nature, equipment and materials, and safety and supervision.

Nature

Nature is an overlooked learning tool. It provides opportunities for children to carefully observe specific sensory elements in the environment and is a natural place for all children to investigate objects and living things. Smelling flowers, collecting leaves, acorns, or bugs, or listening to birds all delight children, spark their imaginations and interest, and inspire their sense of wonder and capitalize on their naturalistic intelligence (Gardner, 2009; Rivkin & Stein, 2014; Wilson, 2012; Wirth & Rosenow, 2012).

Using nature as a learning tool has many benefits. Children of all ages learn to appreciate nature, improve their concentration, engage in more imaginative and constructive play, problem-solving, and positive social behaviors. Although access to nature and natural outdoor spaces varies based on where your school or center is, every teacher can create natural spaces that range from very simple to moderately or very complex spaces. These spaces can be used on blacktops, rooftops, fields, or woods. In Figure 9.12, Leanna’s Tree Collage, 5-year-old Leanna uses different-colored tissue paper or cotton to show what trees look like in different seasons. Notice also how she adds a snowman to the winter picture and flowers to the spring picture.

You can transform any outdoor space with some of the following:

· Use container gardens of edible plants, flowers, or spices in small spaces or where you only have a blacktop.

· Provide small pails for children to collect items on a scavenger or a treasure hunt.

· Plant a class or school garden with vegetables or flowers.

· Take nature hikes and provide ziplock bags to collect natural items.

There are many resources for nature-based learning. Community Playthings in collaboration with the Nature Action Collaborative for Children has a practical booklet entitled The Wisdom of Nature, which you can download from the Community Playthings website. This site also has several nature-based articles and blogs with ideas and resources for the outdoor environment. For other resources, explore the website for children and nature.

Equipment and Materials

Outdoor equipment and materials can be fixed or complex. Fixed equipment has an obvious use such as a swing or a tricycle; complex equipment has two or more different materials to manipulate such as water and a bucket or sand, digging tools, and water. The more complex the equipment or material, the more opportunities children have to use their imaginations and solve authentic problems. Equipment and materials should invite children to play, hold their interest over time, and promote creative thought through all four forms of play (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009; Frost & Woods, 2015; Garrick, 2009; Greenman, 2005). Because materials and space can often be used more flexibly in outdoor spaces, children naturally use their imaginations and invent their own games with found materials, such as stones, flowers, or leaves.

Equipment should be sturdy, safe, and age appropriate. Materials should be open-ended and have movable parts, complexity, and diversity.

Movable parts are pieces that children can manipulate and use to improvise. Lightweight objects of different sizes, shapes, and textures; boards or ramps; and organic materials such as sand and water can be moved from place to place within the area as children choose. They add complexity, flexibility, diversity, novelty, and challenge to the environment—all important ingredients for creativity, socialization, and learning.

Complexity refers to the number of possibilities of the material.. The more possibilities the material has, the more likely it is to hold children’s interest and attention because children can do more with it (Kritchevsky et al., 1977). For example, a large tire swing that can hold two or more children offers more options than a swing on a swing set.

Diversity includes the number of ways materials can be used, regardless of their complexity. It influences how children get started in their activity and offers children necessary choices to create their own forms of play (Frost, Wortham, & Reifel, 2012; Kuh, 2014). Many teachers use play crates to add diversity to the outdoors. Figure9.13 provides examples of outdoor props and play crates.

Figure 9.13 Props and Play Crates for the Outdoor Environment

Safety and Supervision

When children are outdoors they are more likely to engage in gross motor play and take different risks from indoors. You will want to ensure that children have adequate sunscreen before venturing outdoors. Providing safe equipment and materials and overseeing children is essential.

The National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS) has identified four elements of playground safety. These include Supervision, Age-appropriate designs, equipment, and materials, Fall surfaces, and Equipment and materials. These SAFE elements apply to children of all ages and abilities and all types and locations of playgrounds. You can access safety tips by age level, resources, and an annual report card to assess your own playground’s safety at the website for the National Program for Playground Safety.

Safe outdoor environments

· Are well designed and adequately maintained.

· Have storage facilities, suitable surfacing materials, and accessibility.

· Provide features children prefer, such as dramatic play materials and nature areas.

· Focus on all developmental areas.

· Are developmentally appropriate.

· Contain 8 to 10 inches of fall-absorbing material, such as pea gravel, under and around all moving equipment because falls are the number one cause of playground injuries to children (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 2010). Be sure to include a retaining border to hold the material and replenish it frequently.

Children need to be safe and well-supervised while outdoors.

A well-supervised environment is also essential and has the same ratio of adults outdoors as indoors. Well- supervised spaces have adults who do the following:

· Monitor the outdoor environment.

· Have knowledge of injury prevention and first aid.

· Inspect equipment and materials for safety and need of repair.

· Circulate around the area rather than standing in a group and talking.

· Set clear, reasonable limits about what children may do, such as sitting down on the slide.

· Ensure that children use the equipment and materials safely.

· Challenge children’s physical, cognitive, social, and emotional skills.

Figure 9.14 is a checklist of criteria to use for your outdoor space.

These features of creative outdoor environments apply to all children. However, some adaptations may be needed for specific age groups and children with special needs.

Creative Outdoor Spaces for Children of Different Ages and Abilities

Like indoor environments, creative outdoor environments must be designed with children’s ages and developmental levels in mind. They support a range of goals, including a sense of competence, cooperation, creativity, and problem-solving through a variety of activities.

Infant to Toddler Years

Outdoor spaces for infants and toddlers should meet their rapidly increasing motor and social development, their boundless energy and curiosity, and their clear need for autonomy. Infant and toddler outdoor environments have unique safety issues (Bullard, 2014; Frost, Wortham, & Reifel, 2012; Gonzalez-Mena, 2013). For this age group, pay special attention to the following:

· Ground cover that cannot be ingested, such as pea gravel.

· Hazardous material that may have accumulated overnight, such as broken objects, sharp edges, or foreign objects.

· Swing seats that include a strap to prevent falling.

· Safety barriers that protect infants and toddlers from traffic, falls, and pools of water.

· Shade for sun- and heat-sensitive infants.

· Hard-surfaces for wheel toys to push and pull.

Infants and toddlers also need opportunities for a range of sensory exploration with a few simple, safe, age-appropriate choices. Adding materials of different textures, such as sticks, bugs, or tree bark, or clear pathways to walk on, touch, and explore, inspires exploration and play. They need stimulating equipment close to the ground, such as tunnels or simple climbing structures; dramatic play options; movable parts for stacking, gathering, and dumping; and natural experiences with living plants and animals (Frost, Wortham, & Reifel, 2012; Rivkin & Stein, 2014).

Intriguing additions for toddler outdoor environments include the following:

· Hanging inflatable objects from a tree and having children try to “catch one” with a cardboard tube.

· Painting the pathways, equipment, or fence with small buckets of water and large brushes.

· Washing dishes and furniture with pans of warm, soapy water, sponges, and scrub brushes.

Preschool to Kindergarten Years

Creative outdoor environments for preschoolers and kindergartners should promote all four forms of play: functional, constructive, dramatic, and games with rules to support these children’s need for vigorous gross motor play and increased interest in role-playing and games. It should contain an accessible storage facility for portable materials, a grassy area for group games, a place for privacy to meet children’s need for solitary and parallel play, and a variety of child-sized equipment for motor development (Debord, Hestenes, Moore, Cosco, & McGinnis, 2002; Frost, Wortham, & Reifel, 2012). The best outdoor spaces for preschool and kindergarten children include a complex superstructure with a combination of movable parts (e.g., raw materials such as sand, water, and assorted boards) and climbing structures with many moving parts, such as swings, bars, ladders, and structures with potential for dramatic play.

Try some of these activities to add novelty and complexity to the outdoor environment:

· Create nature areas for children to focus on the aesthetic aspects of the outdoors.

· Use shoebox lids and white glue to make collages of natural materials found on or near the outdoor environment.

· Turn wheeled vehicles into another vehicle by taping on a sign and adding appropriate props nearby to stimulate dramatic play.

· Provide a large, empty carton and other appropriate props to create a service station area for wheeled vehicles, a bank drive-through, or a roadside produce stand.

· Add props and play crates designed for outdoor play that stimulate creativity and the imagination as shown in Figure 9.13.

· Provide bubbles with an assortment of recycled materials, such as berry baskets and straws, for bubble wands.

· Encourage children to paint along the fence by clipping easel paper on it; leave the paintings up for an art show.

· Read A Rose for Pinkerton (Kellogg, 1981) and Pet Show (Keats, 1972); then have a pet show with children’s stuffed animals. Make judges’ clipboards out of cardboard and clothespins, stands for the animals out of recycled ice-cream tubs, and prize ribbons out of recycled gift wrap.

First Grade to Fourth Grade

Creative outdoor environments for school-age children should promote investigation, problem-solving, and imagination. These children prefer structures with numerous physical challenges, such as climbers, equipment, and spaces for social development, and safe places for group games. Some suggestions that challenge school-age children in outdoor areas include the following:

· Plan and conduct a scavenger hunt. Use a variety of clues that incorporate riddles, listening, or writing. Tie the scavenger hunt into the unit of study where possible.

· Provide chalk so that children can make outdoor games, such as hopscotch or foursquare, or create shadow drawings.

· Tie-dye old T-shirts and dry them along a fence. Then use another color for more complex and symmetrical designs.

· Do a shadow play in the afternoon. Invite children to enact various roles and use cardboard silhouettes for props. Have the audience watch the show on the ground.

· Assign “fitness” homework, such as walking, hopping, jumping rope, counting steps, or stretching that improves fitness.

· Create a nature area, such as a butterfly garden, to connect with classroom projects.

Creative outdoor environments foster children’s creative thinking and arts-based learning through intentional uses of space, activities, experiences, and materials. Teachers who believe in the power of the environment for learning assume roles that guide children’s creativity.

Outdoor environments have many benefits and should be utilized year-round.

Teachers’ Roles: Designing a Creative Environment

What teachers believe about creativity and the arts influences the classroom environment. Much of what you have already read in this chapter and in previous chapters should help you design your own creative learning space. Teachers like Ms. Lynette, Ms. Keier, Mr. Rapoza, and Ms. Ogur, whom you met earlier in this chapter, intentionally plan environments that support children’s creativity and imagination. They know that the more children can wonder, be curious, and make connections to possibilities, the more they will develop their creativity. Research shows that children’s creative and critical thinking skills develop early and that these skills provide the foundation for their later learning and development across all domains and across all content areas (Epstein, 2014; Frost, Wortham, & Reifel, 2012; Garrick, 2009; Kuh, 2014; Tovey, 2007; Whittaker, 2014). Early childhood teachers, who intentionally plan and arrange environments, support the development of these characteristics. Making decisions about what to use, how to use it, and when to use it reflect your beliefs and values.

Environments that foster creativity and arts-based learning also address 21st-century skills and standards. These skills include the innovative skills of creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication as well as a focus on the STEAM content areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math (Lindeman & Anderson, 2015; Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2012). Other skills, such as imagination, curiosity, self-regulation, and collaboration are also crucial (Garriock, 2011; Jerald, 2009).

Picture the following second-grade classroom. The day begins with centers containing activities and projects selected by the children as part of their unit of study on the solar system. Some children are constructing models of planets; others are researching the distances between each planet and the sun; still others are investigating moon shapes and illustrating the different phases; and some are publishing original books, plays, and poetry about what they see in the night sky. Following centers, the children gather in a circle for their morning meeting. Mrs. Lee, the teacher, likes the group circle arrangement for whole group because it minimizes distractions and creates a sense of belonging. She places traditional, whole-group activities (such as problem-solving, planning events of the day, sharing, and academic or social skill development) after centers to capture children’s high interest in starting to learn early in the day.

Notice how Mrs. Lee’s second graders choose of selected learning activities and have many opportunities to talk with their teachers and peers. Her classroom has a flexible schedule and organization, contains a variety of interest centers, and has well-managed transitions and routines. Mrs. Lee’s arrangement supports children’s creativity.

An environment that fosters creativity and the arts is a mind-set—a way of thinking about how to teach and what is important for all children to learn. The following suggestions will help promote children’s creative habits of mind and allow them to function comfortably, productively, and effectively together.

1. Consider the environment a powerful learning tool. Knowledgeable teachers anticipate how children might use space, time, relationships, and materials. Predicting behavior in this way promotes children’s independence, active involvement, and sustained attention. The environment can also be used to manage tasks. A predictable schedule, for example, helps children learn the rhythm of the day and feel able to participate. Carefully arranged and displayed materials invite children’s participation with a minimum of adult intervention. One preschool teacher uses children’s photographs for taking attendance and rebus recipes for preparing snacks. Such tools reduce the amount of time teachers devote to routine administrative tasks, freeing them to focus on children’s creativity and the arts. What other aspects of room arrangement might be important to consider when teaching young children?

2. Ensure that your classroom climate supports children’s risk-taking. When teachers celebrate children’s ideas and thinking, they send the message that creative thinking is valued. In such an environment, children are more likely to try new materials and express themselves in different ways. Teachers who encourage children’s creative expression are more likely to emphasize the importance of the process children use in creating rather than on the final product, supporting children’s thinking by asking open-ended questions, using rich language and new vocabulary, and developing children’s background knowledge.

3. Model and promote the 21st-century skills of critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. To model critical thinking and problem-solving you might think out loud and say, “I know we want to have birds come to our outdoor space. I wonder what we can do to invite them. What would they like to have? What do they eat? Do they play?” For communication, provide opportunities for children to present their work for an authentic audience. Consider inviting children to design, make, and present a book as a gift to a younger child, or share work with a partner or the class. You can also ensure opportunities for collaboration that encourage working together in small groups toward a common goal. As children work together, their self-expression and originality increase as they build upon each other’s ideas. And finally, you will want to tap into children’s creativity with open-ended materials and tools, such as multimedia, clay, recycled items, wood pieces, or wire to articulate their ideas and thoughts.

4. Use the virtual world appropriately.  Virtual worlds provide an important environment for children to develop their creativity and learn across all domains. Just as face-to-face environments differ according to age and developmental needs, so should virtual environments. Developmentally appropriate virtual environments provide opportunities for children to engage in experiences that would not otherwise be available to them (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009; Kuh, 2014).

Watch this video, which shows elementary-school children exploring a website with galleries of instruments created by children all over the United States. How is this teacher promoting 21st-century skills in the children as they locate materials, design, and pitch levels of instruments before they design their own?

Teachers who design creative learning environments maximize student participation and engagement, support learner-centered teaching, reward imaginative ideas, and encourage children’s self-evaluation.

Adapting Creative Environments for Diverse Learners

All children need environments that foster a sense of curiosity, wonder, and acceptance of cultural diversity and disabilities. With some simple adaptations, it is easy to create arts-based environments that support diverse learners (Deiner, 2013; Salend, 2016; Saracho, 2012). We first suggest modifications for indoor physical environments, then suggest ways to modify center activities, and finally suggest ways to modify outdoor environments to meet the needs of diverse learners.

Tips for Modifying the Indoor Physical Environment to Support Diverse Learners

Use the following tips to modify the indoor physical environment to ensure greater inclusivity:

· Understand the child’s exceptionality so that appropriate accommodations allow for full participation and a focus on the child’s abilities.

· Provide a “buddy” who can help introduce and model classroom routines and activities.

· Modify the space, furniture location, noise, and light.

· Adjust centers with some simple changes in materials, equipment, and careful planning.

· Use technology and interactive media to provide equitable access for all children.

Adaptations for Children with Physical Disabilities

· Provide large spaces in which children can easily move and work.

· Maintain clear pathways in the classroom for easy movement.

· Position tables so that children in wheelchairs are at the same level as their peers.

Adaptations for Children with Hearing Impairments

· Seat children away from noisy backgrounds, such as windows, doors, and heating or cooling systems.

· Encourage children to move freely so they can hear better and see the faces of their peers.

· Use carpet and corkboard walls to reduce classroom noise.

Adaptations for Children with Visual Impairments

· Orient children to the location of materials, centers, pathways, and exits using the child’s seat as a focal point.

· Familiarize children to the school environment once they are oriented to the classroom.

· Designate a peer “sight guide” for special activities, such as fire drills and assemblies.

· Use lighting that does not cast shadows or a glare on schoolwork and activities.

· Play tactile games with blocks, toys, and materials with a variety of textures and forms.

Tips for Modifying Specific Centers for Diverse Learners

Be sure that all materials, question charts, and center instructions contain both text and visual icons to illustrate concepts and problems to solve. You will also want to provide audio-recorded directions so that both readers and nonreaders know what to do. Use the tips that follow to m modify center activities for greater inclusion.

Art Center

· Provide textured papers for children with visual impairments.

· Have books from different cultures and countries that have engaging illustrations.

· Offer large paper for children with small motor challenges.

· Use glue sticks instead of liquid glue.

Literacy and Writing Centers

· Integrate art, music, or drama as a way to respond to a book, poem, or other literacy activity.

· Use pencil grips, pads of paper and large-lined paper (lines may need to be of a different color or “raised” off the paper).

· Have felt-tip pens instead of pencils for children with limited motor abilities.

· Provide letter magnets, stamps, and stencils to encourage exploration of letters and their placement within words.

Math/Science Center

· Integrate the arts through content area study.

· Provide a wide range of differently sized manipulatives to accommodate students with fine motor or dexterity challenges as well as to understand basic, abstract, and symbolic concepts.

· Arrange activities so other students can model or assist struggling peers in a group setting.

· Include a variety of measuring instruments such as rulers, tape measures, and yardsticks.

Technology Center

· Incorporate websites or software that can read directions or text on the screen.

· Choose software that has levels of difficulty ranging from easy to hard.

· Teach children to enable the computer to read back what they have written. Most word processing products have this capability built in.

Tips for Modifying the Outdoor Environment to Support Diverse Learners

To meet the American with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) (1990) requirement for accessibility and to provide an inclusive environment, outdoor spaces must be accessible to all children. This includes developmentally appropriate access to materials, equipment, and natural features including gardens, sand, and water (Frost, Wortham, & Reifel, 2012; Rivkin & Stein, 2014; Wellhousen, 2002). Consider the following tips to modify outdoor environments for greater inclusivity:

· Ensure opportunities for quality social interactions by having enough resources to promote social play skills such as balls, bean bags, and play crates for imaginative play.

· Consider access (e.g., all entryways should be as level as possible) and surfaces (e.g., children with mobility challenges need a smooth, stable surface to walk on and something relatively soft to fall on).

· Provide challenges with differing degrees of difficulty, such as balance beams of different lengths, simple obstacle courses, or noncompetitive games.

· Visit sites such as the Discovery Garden, an inclusive outdoor space located at the University of Wisconsin–Madison or the Camden Children’s Garden to explore and discover the natural world to learn about gardening for children

Adaptations for Children with Physical Challenges

· Position playground equipment so that children can attain maximum range of reach, motion, muscle control, and visual contact.

· Place equipment on a low table at wheelchair height that is sturdy enough to withstand leaning for a child in a wheelchair.

· Define areas with visible barriers, marked pathways, and widened pathways. Take special safety precautions for children with mobility devices if they have to navigate grassy or pebble surfaces.

Adaptations for Children with Visual or Hearing Impairments

· Mark areas with audible and visual cues (such as wind chimes or bells) or have a playmate wear a brightly colored vest to provide visual clues.

· Attach Braille labels to materials to help children with low vision.

Adaptations for Children with Diverse Cognitive Needs

· Keep vocabulary simple, incorporate noncompetitive games, and shorten obstacle courses.

· Provide additional supervision for monitoring safety on equipment, limiting the number of materials available for choice, and communicating clear boundaries to those children who require it.

· Offer games that meet children’s varying needs. Games with simple rules and simple equipment can be technology based, movement oriented, or role plays. They motivate children to practice skills and concepts and optimize cooperation. For children with an intellectual disability, play games that have simple rules and use simple equipment such as tag or simple toss and throw games. You can use yarn balls, a balloon, underinflated beach balls, and scoopers for catching made from recycled bleach bottles. An obstacle course for children with hearing impairments helps them learn prepositions such as over, under, and through. A relay race for children with visual impairments during which children walk, run, and hop with a partner develops both large motor skills and cooperation with peers.

All children need to learn in a carefully designed environment. That kind of environment builds trust, supports creativity and the arts and reflects national standards.

Check Your Understanding 9.5

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Meeting Standards for Creative Environments

Professional organizations for teachers and most states have standards for high-quality classroom environments. These standards indicate that the environment should support children’s self- expression and thinking. It should also help children feel ownership in their learning by having some input into their work and its completion, assessment, and display.

Figure 9.15 provides quality indicators of classroom environments, guided by national standards. It includes examples that foster positive relationships, positive learning outcomes, a positive emotional climate, and a positive physical environment. Use Figure 9.15 to discuss other examples that contribute to these key indicators of creative environments.

Figure 9.15 Indicators of Creative Environments

While the following four standards come from different professional organizations, each addresses the same essential elements. Read the standards to identify the common elements among them. What else would you add from this chapter? Then, choose an age level (infants–toddlers, preschool–kindergarten, first–fourth grade) for which you will create a “state-of-the-art” environment. Now, write a scenario for one of the following that includes:

· All indicators for a particular age level.

· Some indicators for the same age level.

· No indicators for the same age level.

Compare and contrast your scenario with a peer and recommend three changes based on your conversation. Be willing to add other indicators and examples from the chapter that would provide evidence for your choices.

National Standards on Classroom Environments

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

Standard 1: Learning and Development

Teachers use their understanding of young children’s characteristics, needs, and the multiple interacting influences on development and learning to create environments that are healthy, respectful, supportive, and challenging for each child.

Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Initial Preparation

Standard 2: Learning Environments

Teachers create active learning environments that promote students’ cognitive, social, and emotional growth.

The Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) Model Core Teaching Standards

Standard 3: Learning Environments

Teachers Create Active Learning Environments That Promote Collaboration, Positive Social Interactions and Self-Motivation.

Conclusion

The environment has an important role in promoting creative thought and the arts. It is generally a child-centered, active place that meets children’s needs. Creative environments should be filled with numerous materials, resources, and opportunities for children to invent, solve problems, and communicate their ideas and work with a variety of audiences. They should also be places for children to work with peers collaboratively to solve open-ended, authentic problems.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONSAbout Creative Environments

Can I have a creative learning environment even if I am not particularly creative?

In her book Why Our Schools Need the Arts, Jessica Hoffman Davis (2008) talks about how every teacher, regardless of artistic ability, needs to teach the arts. Early childhood educators cannot be an expert in all the subjects they teach, including the arts. But every early childhood teacher can capitalize on young children’s natural creativity with a variety of artistic media and observe what children are learning. Ask yourself some of these questions: In what ways do I support children’s learning and build an arts-based environment? Do I provide opportunities for children to respond in unusual ways to projects and activities? Can I identify the most creative children in my class? An arts-based environment helps children learn how to learn. You want to feel comfortable inviting children into arts-based and to model appropriate attitudes toward the arts. By respecting children’s works of art as their way of interpreting their world, promoting children’s imagination and expression through “what if” questions and activities, and encouraging children’s imaginative ideas and self-evaluation, you can surely view yourself as a creative teacher.

Is recess necessary for today’s elementary classroom?

According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE, 2012), daily physical activity for children of all ages is important. Recess should be at least 20 minutes per day, which meets one-third of the recommended daily 60 minutes of regular, age-appropriate physical activity including outside play when possible. Even with the endorsements of various other national associations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the International Play Association, recess has been jeopardized as important. Recess is an essential component of the total educational experience for preschoolers, kindergartners, and school-age children. It provides them with discretionary time and opportunities to engage in physical activity that develops healthy bodies and minds (NASPE, 2012); improves children’s ability to perform academically (Pellegrini, 2005); influences children’s behavior and learning; and contributes to their social development. (Barros, Silver, & Stein, 2009). Unstructured physical play is a developmentally appropriate outlet for reducing stress in children’s lives; it improves children’s attentiveness, decreases restlessness, and improves resilience (NAECS-SDE, 2002). Unstructured recess periods with choices and free play combined with structured physical activity are the best for children. Unfortunately, recess is being cut to allow for more academic time focused on test preparation.

How can I ease English language learners into my classroom routines?

Only when students feel comfortable with your classroom routines will optimal second-language acquisition and academic learning occur. Using Maslow’s (1970) hierarchy of human needs as a foundation, you want to ensure safety, security, and a sense of belonging. To help second-language learners feel safe and secure, you might assign a personal buddy, who speaks the child’s language and follows the predictable routines in your classroom, to each newcomer. This plan creates a sense of security for all students but is especially important for students who are new to the language and culture of the school. In fact, your predictable routines may be the first stable feature some students have experienced in a long time. To help second-language learners achieve a sense of belonging, you might seat new students in the middle or front of the room, integrating them early in cooperative groups, and help them follow predictable routines.

All children need environments that foster creativity and the arts in which they can plan for their own learning, identify resources and materials, and interact with one another.

Chapter Summary

· Explain the theoretical and research base of creative learning environments. The works of Urie Bronfenbrenner (2004), Maria Montessori (1909, 1964), Loris Malaguzzi (1995), and Lev Vygotsky (1967, 1978), among others, provide important insights into designing creative environments that engage all children. Each theorist helps us understand the impact of the physical, social, cognitive, and digital environments that together support children’s creativity growth and arts-based learning.

· Plan an indoor environment for creativity and arts-based learning, Designing the indoor environment for creativity and arts-based learning begins with knowing the children, what they need to learn, and how they best can learn. Important components of indoor environments are room arrangement, a positive management system, arts-based centers, and transitions and routines.

· Create an outdoor environment that supports creativity and the arts. Outdoor environments need the same attention to equipment and materials, safety, space, supervision, and storage as indoor environments. Children need an outdoor environment that holds their interest over time and challenges their imagination.

· Identify teachers’ roles in providing an inviting, creative learning environment.  Teachers intentionally plan environments so that children can wonder, be curious, and make connections to possibilities in order to develop their creativity. Research shows that children’s creative and critical thinking skills develop early and provide the foundation for their later learning and development across all domains and across all content areas.

· Adapt the learning environment to meet the needs of each child. With some simple adjustments to the indoor and outdoor environments, it is easy to adapt arts-based and creative environments to support the needs of diverse learners.

Chapter Quiz 9:

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Discuss: Perspectives on Creative Environments

1. Visualize your ideal classroom, both indoors and outdoors. Select an age range. How will you arrange desks or tables? Are there centers available? What else do you see in your “minds-eye”? Describe your rationale for your environment. Then create a digital representation of it. Use a word processing program, presentation software, or a concept map for this. You may also want to download classroom architect, a tool to outline your environment, from the website classroom4teachers.

2. Some teachers admit that they never think much about the outdoor environment and treat it only as a way to have children expend energy. What do you think of this practice? Why?

3. In your creative environment, what would you say to a parent or a colleague who said, “But they are just playing or drawing or making music! When will they learn something?”

4. Locate a teacher’s blog discussing one of the important features of creative environments. How do the blog entries compare to what you have just read in this chapter?

Assess: Using Published Rating Scales to Assess Classroom Environments

1. Published rating scales and accreditation procedures provide guidelines and indicators for assessing creative environments for children of all ages. These scales provide the salient items and criteria needed to evaluate high-quality classroom environments. From your library, select one of the following eight scales to evaluate a virtual classroom environment or your classroom’s indoor or outdoor environment.

§ DeViney, Duncan, Harris, Rody, & Rosenberry (2010). Rating Observation Scale for Inspiring Environments (ROSIE). Lewinsville, NC: Gryphon House.

Focuses on evaluating what is aesthetically beautiful and inspiring in the classroom environment through different lenses of color, light, furnishings, displays, textures, and focal points.

§ Frost, J. L. (1997). Playground Rating System (revised). In Frost, Wortham, & Reifel (2012). Play and Development (appendix). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill-Prentice Hall.

This appendix, which may be downloaded as a pdf, serves as a planning and evaluation tool for playgrounds. It contains 51 items to evaluate three different areas of playground quality. These areas are playground contents, playground safety, and the role of the adult on the playground. Each item is rated on a scale from 0 (“nonexistent”) to 5 (“All elements exist: Excellent function).

§ Harms, T., & Jacobs, E. V. & White, D. R. (2013). School-Age Care Environment Rating Scale: Updated Edition. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Contains 47 items organized within seven categories that include Space and Furnishings, Health and Safety, Activities, Interactions, Program Structure, Staff Development, and Special Needs.

§ Harms, T., Cryer, D., & Clifford, R. M. (2007). Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale (rev. ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Provides ratings for space, materials, and learning activities among the six categories addressed to ensure that the environment is developmentally appropriate for young children. Each item is rated “Inadequate” (does not meet custodial needs) to “Excellent” (high-quality care).

§ Harms, T., Cryer, D. & Clifford, R. M. (2004). Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (rev. ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Provides guidelines for assessing the quality of the physical and social environments for young children in seven areas, such as room arrangement, furnishings, displays, and creative activities.

§ Harms, T., Cryer, D., & Clifford, R. M. (2006). Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Contains criteria for furnishings and displays for children, space, learning activities, and program structure rated from “Inadequate” (not meeting custodial care needs) to “Excellent” (describing high-quality care).

§ Jones, E. (1977). Dimensions of teaching-learning environments.Pasadena, CA: Pacific Oaks. Describes the physical setting and the teacher’s behavior along four dimensions: soft/hard, simple/complex, intrusion/seclusion, and high mobility/low mobility.

§ National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2005). NAEYC early childhood program standards and accreditation criteria: The mark of quality in early childhood education. Washington, DC: Author. Standard 9, Topic 9A, The Physical Environment, contains 15 criteria for assessing the equipment, materials, and furnishings of the indoor and outdoor environment.

2. Revisit Figure 9.15 on p. 364, Indicators of Creative Environments, to assess the quality of the physical environment, relationships, climate, and learning outcomes in your field experience or student teaching classroom. What changes would you recommend after reading this chapter?ood education. Washington, DC: Author. Standard 9, Topic 9A, The Physical Environment, contains 15 criteria for assessing the equipment, materials, and furnishings of the indoor and outdoor environment.

2. Revisit Figure 9.15 on p. 364, Indicators of Creative Environments, to assess the quality of the physical environment, relationships, climate, and learning outcomes in your field experience or student teaching classroom. What changes would you recommend after reading this chapter?

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