Posted by: devonteacherblog | March 7, 2012

Your classroom or theirs?

Your classroom or theirs?

So much is expected of primary aged children in terms of their attainment, progress, personal targets, social skills and extra curricular activities that it seems a daunting prospect to include ‘fun’ or ‘excitement’ in this busy schedule.

Children are just that though, children. They need an engaging learning environment where they can explore, question, challenge, play, learn and develop.

The classroom is one of these environments. The classroom is a place where children feel most comfortable to try new things. If children are given some ownership of their classroom, it’s layout, design and resources, then they are much more likely to feel at ease here and to blossom as young learners.

How can children take some ownership of the classroom?

  • When you have a new class of children, see it as a blank canvas (even if you have been in your classroom for years!) The children don’t want to come in to a classroom that has other children’s work on the walls.
  • Ask the children what they think should be included in their classroom (perhaps have some resources put away ready so you don’t need to make it all in the first week back). They may surprise you with some refreshing ideas.
  • If the children are unsure then you could suggest some ideas for certain areas (such as a small world area, an art corner, a writing table, a challenge area, an experiment corner, a role play corner etc) then they can decide on the theme of each area. They will love having different areas to go and explore. Make sure you add to them or change them regularly as children with particular interests will revisit the same area daily and may become bored if it isn’t updated.
  • Design a display together. Perhaps give the display a theme such as ‘how to be a good friend’ or ‘how to be a good learner’. Ask the children how we can show this in a fun and exciting way and give them as much freedom as possible in terms of the medium(s) they use to create it. Take some photographs of them role playing the theme of the display and add these to the display. If the children have chosen a theme such as ‘how to be a good learner’ then the display can stay there for a while as it useful for them and they will know that they created it themselves to help them learn.
  • Working walls for Literacy and Numeracy can be added to all the time. Give children post-it notes so they can jot down their ideas and add it to the working wall. Perhaps create an area for ‘Wow words’ so that their ideas can be celebrated. The children can refer to this when they do their work.
  • Ask the children to design a sign for the classroom door and stick photographs of them all around it.
  • Children love having ‘class jobs’. Each week choose some children to be special helpers or table monitors etc. They will feel important and it is a great way for them to take care of their own classroom. They should be proud of their learning space.
  • Create a ‘class contract’ together where the children design classroom rules. How do they expect others to act in their classroom? Get them to sign it in their favourite colour felt tip when it is completed and display it somewhere where they can see it so you can refer back to it during the year.
  • LABEL EVERYTHING! Okay, maybe you don’t need to label every single pencil but the more clear labels the better. I am a bit OCD about labels but it does seem to work. If children are constantly asking where to find resources then you need more labels! Even if a child isn’t sure where to find the glue sticks, if you have labelled the tray then they will be able to (eventually) locate them independently.
  • Include lots of bright, exciting resources on the walls and hanging from the ceiling. Link them in to the children’s learning so you can constantly refer to them (“Remember to use capital letters and full stops in your writing, just like the VCOP superheroes on our working wall”).
  • If you want to keep an area of the classroom for yourself (i.e. the desk and wall by the desk) then make this clear from the beginning. Perhaps create a ‘special box’ where the children can leave you notes and drawings as these tend to build up over the year and children don’t like the thought of you throwing these away. (“Oh thank you for making me this lovely card, can you put it in my special box so I can keep it safe please?”)
  • Where possible, ask the children to help you make resources. Websites such as sparklebox are fab for finding new resources but it’s also nice to have the children create some too. For example, if the children are learning to use adjectives then they could each write an exciting describing word on a big piece of paper and then cut it out in a cloud shape. These can then be laminated and hung from the ceiling. The children will then have a wonderful collection of adjectives (‘word clouds’) to peer up at if they ever get stuck for an adjective.
Allow children chance to add to their classroom. They can refer to their working wall to help them learn.

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Giving children ownership of their classroom gives them ownership of their learning.

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Responses

  1. Very nice post.

  2. hey your blog design is very nice, clean and fresh and with updated content, make people feel peace and I always like browsing your site.
    http://www.businesstraveltours.com is my website.

  3. I’m not being funny but you can’t compare numeracy and the IPC as numeracy is a core subject, IPC is bought in by schools that have a lot of money that they don’t need to spend there own time and resources developing a thematic curriculum that meets their leathers needs as opposed to a 1 size fits all curriculum.

    • I think you may have commented on the wrong post here. I have not compared numeracy and the IPC. Is what I was meaning is that if we became an academy I would be given freedom over what I teach and if I wanted to I could scrap my numeracy hour and just teach it within topic work. Also, we do buy into the IPC but we totally tailor it to the individual needs of each child so a lot of work goes in to resourcing the lessons, differentiating the planning and contacting national and international schools to involve them in our learning.


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