How to choose carpets?

Carpets are an important part of an elementary and daycare classroom. With the rise in popularity of alternative seating students need a comfortable and safe space on the floor and not all classrooms are equipped. Whether it is doing group work or whole class discussion, a floor space is necessary.

I love using the carpet for whole class discussion. We have less distractions, we can hear each other better and we tend to be more focused. For whole class discussion, carpets give those students who need to move, the ability to sit on the edge of the carpet and get up and stretch when they need to, without disrupting their peers. When we do need to stand up and stretch as a whole class we can do it quickly and easily on the carpet. Fidgets can be easily distributed on the carpet too. If centers needed to be set up before hand, having a space students can come directly to and avoid their desks is also helpful. The reasons to have a carpet space are endless!

There are lots of things to consider when buying a carpet for your learning space:

Size

If you will only be using it for small groups, a smaller carpet is more practical. For whole class discussions, more space is needed. Classroom carpets run between 4′ x 6′ to 8′ x 12′ with lots of options in between. Make sure you measure up, mark out and order the correct size for your space.

Shape

Rectangular, oval and circle are all possibilities. Is carpet time for whole class discussion in rows, sharing circles or circle time games?  Think about what you will primarily be using the carpet for then choose the size that works for you and your students.

ABC Caterpillar Rug

Where the carpet will be situated in the classroom can also impact the shape. Circles and ovals are more conducive to middle of the room class movement, while straight edges are convenient for a corner classroom location.

Student spots

Do you want a spot for each student? These are available for row seating, semi-circles or circles too.

Alphabet Seating Kids Value Plus Rug - 6' x 9'

This carpets has 25 spaces but is only 6′ by 9′ so the students need to be young.

Rainbow Seating

28 spots here organised in semi-circles.

Lots of Dots - 7'7" Round

This carpet is perfect for small sharing circles. It has twelve dots and students can be given a specific colour to sit on to make transitions easier.

Lots of Dots

This larger Lots Of Dots 7’8″ X 10’9″ Rectangular Carpet has 30 spots for the larger classes. Clear boundaries tends to make for less arguments over space.

Warranty

Many carpets come with a warranty of up to 10 years. Carpets are an investment and we want them to last. We all know once a carpet starts to fray, little hands will quickly help them along!

Low VOCs

Many carpets are now Green Label Plus certified. This means you are buying the  lowest emitting carpet available in the market. Considering the amount of time we spend indoors, indoor air quality can be important.

Theme

Carpets can be pretty and educational as well.

Noteworthy Rug

Music inspired: this rug could be used for composition.

Lengualink

Bilingual:  includes basic French words and numbers.

Medicine Wheel/Seven Teachings Carpet

Medicine Wheel: The Seven Teachings identify the core values of truth, honesty, love, courage, respect, humility and wisdom.

Canada Carpet

Social Studies: Canada or world maps are available.

Give the Planet a Hug

 

Friendship: Give the Planet a Hug carpet!

There are lots of considerations and lots of options.

Happy carpet shopping!

Do you have favourites?

 

 

 

 

 

Alternative Seating

Giving students choices on where they can sit is becoming more popular. Why? Allowing students to choose their best way to learn is believed to improve behaviour and academic success. Some students find sitting “criss-cross apple sauce” on the carpet very challenging while others detest sitting in a chair. This can result in standing, rocking unsafely and stooped posture while writing. The way students are learning has also evolved. Gone are the lessons when students would sit and listen to the teacher lecture for 20-30 minutes and then write what they have learned or complete written exercises for 60 minutes. Our teaching and learning involves more short bursts of learning and activity, catering more to the developing capabilities of our students. Teaching students to know their best way of learning in multiple skills situations is essential. This includes finding the best body position for the learning situation too.

I will be trying alternative seating in my classroom at NEEDS over the next few months and let you know how it is going. Some of the types of seating we will be trying include:

Scoop Rocker Case

Scoop Rocker, a very popular seating choice for under 50 lb.

Mini Throw Pillows

Pillows.

Jive Balance Stool 21"

A Balance Stool.

Spiky Tactile Cushion

Spiky Tactile Cushion.

Multi Fold Padded Seat

A Multi Fold Padded Seat.

The Scoop Rockers are a huge hit already:

What are your experiences of trying alternative seating?

 

Montessori Inspired Learning (Part 1)

I had the pleasure of visiting Riverview Montessori last month with my youngest two children. As it was ‘bring someone you love to school’ day we felt particularly honoured to be joining friends and excited to play/work Montessori for an hour.

The individualized learning process particularly appealed to Rose.

photo 1 (3)

She was very excited to choose her activities and after watching how the other children were selecting their resources and finding a place to sit, either on the floor or at a table she did the same.

photo 2 (4)

She worked at a table to begin with, counting and sorting.

photo 3 (4)

Investigating fossils.

photo 2 (3)

Sorting and matching keys.

photo 1 (4)

Rose then moved to the carpet and unrolled her mat with the help of a friend to begin a letter puzzle. Yes, that is Freddy trying to ‘help’.

photo 3 (3)

Dancing and singing with friends was wonderful fun.

Rose did not need guidance with activities and she was immersed in her learning for the full hour. Getting her to leave was a challenge!

We all thoroughly enjoyed our visit. Thank you Riverview Montessori.

She did however ask in the car on the drive home “How come nobody played with me, Mama?’ which I considered quite insightful. I explained that her friend’s school works a little bit differently to her nursery program, friends tend to choose their activities and do them independently. It is more about free choice. She seemed fully satisfied with this answer.

Have a look at Quality Classrooms’ selection of resources suitable for Montessori here.

A second post exploring more of what Maria Montessori’s theory of teaching is about and what it can look like in a classroom, will follow.

 

Reading nooks

Finding a great place to curl up with a good book is rewarding. If it is cozy and feels like you can escape from the world, even better.

Have a look at these:

book nook examples

Taken from:

Inspiring classroom or home reading nooks need to have:

  • a quiet space
  • a comfortable seat (chair, beanbag, cushion)
  • book storage
  • good light

We decided to make a reading area in the living area. Daisy has always loved books but her reading has begun to develop in leaps and bounds recently and she enjoys independent reading now, as well as being read to.

We have a gown up space for reading; two comfy chairs, a footstool, good light and a place to put your coffee or tea and book. Often the kids join us with a request to read but we wanted to create a reading space just for them.

This corner area of the living room is a dead space:

Reading nookAlthough the chairs are suitable, their positioning blocks access to the toys. The red chair on the right is one of our reading chairs (they are rather old but much loved).

An extra bookshelf, allows more book space. Toys are moved to the other side of the fireplace, a light, chair and cushions are added:

Reading nookWe now have a dedicated spot for children’s reading.

In my classrooms I enjoyed setting up reading areas, making them inviting, comfortable spaces to curl up with a good book.

Here are some options from Quality Classrooms to add to your reading corner or nook:

Playhouse Hideaway Bookshelves

The Playhouse Hideaway Bookshelves.

Imagination Nook with Storage

Imagination Nook with Storage.

Sit & Store Reading Centre

Sit and Store Reading Centre.

Happy Reading!

 

Look what I did, Mama! (organisation)

To follow on from the post two weeks ago on storage aand organisation, I am sharing how I tamed piles of gorgeous art work that were building in our home office.

As a teacher I didn’t think too much about the work I was sending home. I was glad to send home folders and collections of writing, hoping the students were proud to share their work with family. As to where it went at home…. no idea. Now I am on the other side of the fence and getting buried under “Look what I did, Mama!” crafts, art, pictures and writing. Time to organize!

Last year I received a folder of Daisy’s work and photos of her in daycare. It was lovingly put together by her room teachers and makes all of us happy to flick through it.

They used card in plastic sheet protectors and added photos and crafts on top of the card. This inspired me to continue the effort. Twice a month or so the pile of work gets sorted into three piles:

  • Keep
  • Photograph
  • Recycle
Asking a four year old to help with this can be a challenge as she wants to keep everything. Every time we do it she is getting better at letting things go. As for the photographs of work she can part with but wants to remember, I keep a folder on my desktop for each month and then each academic year. Eventually a CD can be burned or USB added to the collection.

The folders are labelled and easy to find. I am hoping eventually Daisy will be able to do this process with less and less guidance. When gets bored watching me organize she looks though last years folder and her sister’s folder, proudly explaining what Rose has scribbled.

The pile of art work, which comes home every few days, now has a contained home and does not overflow its basket!

We have a easy to maintain record of the girls work to keep. We add dates and comments to explain the work if necessary. We love finding out how Daisy entertained her preschool room. Her teachers often send home notes to share a comment Daisy has made that entertained. These are treasured and also stuck into the folder. With these notes comes the realization that our daughter is spending less time with us and more time with her peers. Realization and acceptance are two different things!

What do you do to organize the ‘bring home’ or ‘send home’ work chaos?