What should we call these areas?
Over the past week, we've been exploring these unique areas of the Tucker Room. As you know, many of our areas in the classroom have specific names that we use to identify them as we make our plans for the day, communicate where we are working, etc. For as long as these areas have "been in the works" (since last spring), they've yet to have defined names. We wanted to open this up to our observations of the children and their ideas once they were able to engage with the spaces and materials. Over the course of the past week, we've had a few conversations about these areas of the classroom, and we seem to have settled on "The Black Area" and "The White Area".
How they came to be...
An ongoing conversation here at St. John's is continually working to increase the complexity and uniqueness of what we offer the children in terms of environment and materials. I was inspired by classrooms, experiences, and materials displays set up in the schools and at the Loris Malaguzzi International Centre in Reggio Emilia, Italy in 2013 and 2018.
As a team, we've been discussing this idea, researching, and collecting materials since the spring of last school year.
Searching for materials was a wonderful journey as well. Based on the materials inspiration from Reggio Emilia, and the research (some of it seen above), we intended to fill the spaces with a variety of textures, materials (plastic, fabric, metal, wood, cardboard, paper, foam, stone, tile, etc.), shapes, and shades of white/black (white, off white, cream, etc.). We collected materials from Upcycle, thrift stores, Community Forklift, 3D printers, home, Tucker closet, and more. One unique experience was collecting pipes from an active construction site where a kind man named Keith cut custom shapes for our classroom (photos below); videos will be shared with the children soon.
When it came time to set it up in the classroom, we intentionally placed the white area by the window for additional lighting, and the black area across from it. This provided contrast and potential for cross "contamination" of the materials. Our original intention was also to have the dark space enclosed, but due to logistics and a desire to more easily observe the children's work, we have decided to wait. We also wanted to give the children an opportunity experience the spaces and make suggestions and additions as a group; perhaps they will suggest the idea to enclose it!
While the space has already changed a bit over the first week, here are the photos of our initial setup. We anticipate that this will evolve and change as our work progresses.
The most important component: The Children
We have been so excited for the children to see and experience this area. Though the initial research, materials collection, and set up came from us, the teachers, the children and families give it meaning and life. Their words, thoughts, structures, actions, etc. breathe life into the spaces and materials and propel our work forward.
Last Tuesday, as the children entered the classroom, the majority of them gravitated towards the black area while Violet went to the white area to investigate the white balls in the glass jar. After morning meeting, many of them took time to explore and build. Within minutes, white materials had been mixed with the white, and the complex structure and ideas were already in motion.
"There's so much black." - Lochie
"I think this [black, metal, circular object with a handle] might have been part of a bike once."- Jack
"I think this [circular bed riser] was a flower pot." - Lochie
"I see dancing rainbows." - Elle
How else has it been utilized so far?
“That isn’t just the power thing (tower). All of tis is powered by lightening. Then this whole thing has energy in it. The energy comes from here (pipe with tubes connected). It goes from here to here, and then that makes this get power (tower made of foam roller and grates). All the power gets into that , and comes from there (the white area).” - Giacomo
More to come soon!
Snack in the Tucker Room
Snack is such a wonderful gathering time for our children. We have been having some rich, meaningful, joyful conversations while enjoying some delicious foods. Some children have tried new things (e.g. purple carrots), and we've also discovered that we have some favorite foods!