Set up the indoor environment in separate learning areas because children work best in small groups. Keeping the environment organized helps provide a feeling of trust and safety in children. With separate learning areas, children will be more likely to focus on an activity which often results in more complex play. Creating interest areas will also give children more opportunities to make choices. Interest areas are usually quiet or active (which often times means noisier).
Some quiet interest areas may include: reading, art, and table toys (manipulatives). With a large space quiet areas can also include computers, science, and writing. More active interest areas may include: dramatic play, blocks, and movement for large muscles. With a larger space active interest areas may also include woodworking, music, sand & water, and cooking. Keeping the quiet areas near each other and the active areas together is not only wise but also good management!
Interest areas work well for both adults and children when well defined. So, are the areas clearly defined? Is it clear where the block area is? The art area? The reading area? Make sure that areas that need a plug in are near an electrical outlet and areas that need water are not on carpet and are near a water source. It’s nice to have a place where children can gather as a whole group. Use furniture, the floor, rugs, and shelves to separate areas.
Clearly defined interest areas helps children use the ideas they have about what to do so they can actually carry out their ideas. Interest areas give children opportunity to express their ideas and feelings while they use the interest area. Children also get to use their social skills by sharing, taking turns, and working together in their chosen interest area.
Creating an awesome learning environment starts with engaging interest areas!