Thursday, February 24, 2011

visit our preschool's indoor learning environment

It just occurred to me that because I write so much about what is happening outdoors at preschool you rarely get a glimpse of what our indoor learning environment looks like.  Come inside and I'll show you around.

We have two classrooms shaped like giant yurts.  We call them pods.  As you walk into our first pod you will see our block area:

And our collage / construction table:

The dolls house:

And the reading area:

 Now walk over with me to the second pod:

 And here you will find our dramatic play area:

Which flows through to the dress ups area:

There is a space for table top toys:

A construction mat:

A lounge area for chilling out:

A writing area:

And a second reading space / chill zone / spot to keep the children's journals:

Connecting our two pods is a covered veranda area.  It is here that we eat, relax, cook, paint and play with all the messy stuff:


So there you have it:  preschool at the start of the year.  The space evolves over time as the children's play and interests evolve and as the group changes. 

The children also mix things up and rearrange things day by day.  The writing area gets moved to a box:

Every cushion in the joint gets moved to the journal area for a slumber party with friends:

As in any play-based program, this process of place-making is dynamic and ongoing, driven by the children and adults using the centre.


  1. I'd love to be a child at your preschool Jenny. You have quite a gift for creating great environments. The pods look beautifully designed with great flow of space and lovely light filled windows, and the verandah area looks inviting too!

  2. What a fabulous space, the pod idea is very special. I wish we could come to play :)

  3. Wonderful, open plan, child centred learning environment! Particularly loving your wood block area and veranda! Oh to have such wonderful weather and beautiful spaces. Have you though of using real tools, work benches and hard hats in the construction area? We used to introduce a real tool each week over a 6 week period and they learned how to use them safely! There is a nursery school near to me in UK (2-5 yr olds) that even has kids glue guns, wood blocks and mini-saws in their workshop area! So much fun :-)

  4. Thanks for the glimpse inside! I have actually been contemplating a similar post, as the photos I have up of our space on the webpage are from a few years ago. I've been contemplating whether to just go with photos or a video tour of the place.

  5. Whoops! I was logged in under the conference ID when I posted that! That's what I get for working into the wee morning hours on my computer and forgetting to log off! The comment above was really from me!

  6. I love to see spaces set up before the kids arrive - and the picture of "after" too. Nothing like kids making a space their own! Thanks for sharing your space with us, Jenny.

  7. What amazing play spaces. How I wish I could have learned in a place like that when I was growing up.
    That is wonderful, thanks for sharing.

  8. I'd love to be a child there...and would like so much to have a place like that for my sons. Unfortunately schools here where I live are totally different. But thanks for letting us know how amazing a preschool place can be.

  9. Jenny,
    Thank you for your wonderful photos, of your creative, inviting, warm indoor spaces.

    How interesting to see some of the commonalities between early childhood environments across the world - in the use of natural, open ended materials,children's personal photos in frames, lots of books, etc, and as well differences due to locale and just different individuals

    Your children are very fortunate to have this beautiful environment, which is so well thought out and designed to be harmonious. I can just tell this is a relaxing, stressfree, and fun place to grow and be.

    Thanks again!

  10. Beautiful Jenny! would love to be a child at your centre

  11. Your yard is PARADISE! What a beautiful place, the children must love it, they look so happy!

  12. Beautiful! I had a few housekeeping questions about how you make it work;
    Do you have the kids tidy up at the end of the day/week or let things stay as is so kids can return to it? We have to make sure the floor is clear each afternoon for the cleaners so can't leave much out.
    Do you ever have problems with making sure there are enough staff inside and outside for supervising children in all areas?
    I would love to have a more progressive approach to the day but am often frustrated by the logistics of it. And advice would be great!

  13. The space is beautiful. I love the sofa and the art.
    I'm portuguese.


  14. Thanks for the lovely comments everyone. Erin: We start to tidy up at about 2pm with the kids (one pod at a time). At about 2.30ish one of us will have story /song time with the kids that are interested and the others get stuck into some more cleaning / tidying / packing away the outdoor area. We are lucky to have parents who sign up on a roster to pack away the outdoor area for us as well, so that is a big help. Cleaners come each night.

    It has taken a few years to get into the swing of making things work with 2 rooms and an outdoor area open all day long. We have one extra staff person than needed for regs, so that is a big help. Also rooms are designed so that we can see in / out at all times. We do find that we are always moving between the environments. We never have time to twiddle our thumbs! During lunch breaks we close off one pod, because we are one staff person down.

  15. Thanks Jenny, thats helpful :)

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  17. This environment is wonderfully DAP! I am an Early Childhood Lecturer in Jamaica. May I have your permission to use your pictures during my lectures? I would ensure that credit would be given to your school.