Thursday, June 24, 2010

Step Six: Displaying and Labeling Materials with Creative Curriculum® for the Home

“Everything with a place and everything in its place.”  This is, indeed, the rule of any good early education classroom – and any well-organized home for that matter.  But, it is also a rule that we, unfortunately, have yet to fully apply in our home. So, stepping back inside after assessing our Outdoor Area during the last step, today, let's look at how we might apply Creative Curriculum® to displaying and labeling materials.

The Creative Curriculum® focuses on the "everything with a place and a place for everything" rule, reminding practitioners that children benefit from the consistency and predictability of an ordered environment.  It highlights that by knowing where to find things and how things are grouped, children can work independently and constructively and – bonus for the adults –can also care for and clean up their environment much more readily.  It suggests that by having clearly marked places for everything, children are afforded the flexibility of taking materials to areas beyond their “home” for play and learning, but, can also return the materials easier during clean-up time.

To store and display materials the Creative Curriculum® suggests five easy guidelines:

  1. Keep materials that go together in the same place – collage material with glue and paper; cars with blocks and so on.  This seems a no-brainer, but, I must confess, we have materials stored in some very illogical places in my home.  It’s high time, then, to go on a household hunt to group like objects together and put them in accessible places, pending the success of the big de-clutter of course.  No more materials for a single activity housed in four different rooms.  No more collections of everything-the-kids-have-gotten wild-with on top of the fridge. And no more basement disaster area.  A huge, but not insurmountable goal, that I will start tackling now - and, as baby allows - finish in the coming months.
  2. Use containers such as plastic dishpans, clear plastic containers, baskets and shoe boxes to hold materials toys with small pieces.  I love the aesthetic of baskets and other natural materials containers.  However, our limited family budget mandates some plastic and copious amounts of re-purposed materials.  So, baskets on hand, dollar store finds, recycled gift bags, re-purposed food containers, here we come!  As we purge our actual collection of “stuff”, we’ve got to add to our collection of baskets and bins in order to containerize, containerize, containerize.
  3. Hang items, such as dress up clothes, utensils, smocks and whatnot, on pegs, Velcro and child-sized clothes trees.  We love magnet hooks for the side of our fridge and the back of our front door.  Cup holder hooks, peg racks and the like work well in some other areas.  We simply need to discern the best areas for kid-level hung items and, then, go for it.
  4. Display materials on low shelves at children’s eye level and place books with covers facing out.  (Montessori ideals come in handy there)  We work with what we have and are managing, for the most part, to adhere to such guidelines...
  5. Store sharp items, such as knives and graters, out of reach, bringing them out as needed.  We are still working on our balance of child-proofing as versus teaching responsible, independent handling in our home. Here, we tend to ere on the side of independence, allowing the kids to use real glasses and to access some things that might cause others to draw their breath in sharply with an “oh no!”, but it works for us.  Still, with the new baby coming along, we’ll have to be more vigilant again...
    And, wherever materials are stored and displayed, the Creative Curriculum® asks that they be clearly labeled with both words and pictures both on the storage shelf itself, as well as on any containers that hold objects on the shelves.  That way, clean up becomes a matching and literacy game as well as merely an endeavor to care for the environment.   Now, there’s an idea.  On the container and on the shelf – at least for the kids toys – and label everything.  We’ve done this in the Music and Movement area and need to elsewhere.  So, break out the contact paper, packing tape and key chain circles.  Increased label madness, here we come!

    Now, enough theorizing, time to get to more display weeding and area labeling!  And, hopefully, to a further step on our CC journey within the next week.  Stay tuned for it, and, as always:

    One final note:  If you would like to join me on this CC journey, please leave comments.  Grab a copy of the book yourself to review and let me know what you're getting from it.  Or, use my summaries and posts as a starting point for thought.  Tell me how you're moving from theory to practice in your own home.  Cheer me on (or give me constructive criticism) about how I am doing.  Or, simply jot down whatever comes to mind.  Deep conversation or silly banter -- my adventures have always been all the better for sharing both along the way.  Thanks! 

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    1 comment:

    Unknown said...

    Hi Martianne, I've been following your blog for a little while (not sure if I've posted before). You've got some lovely ideas which I hope to come back to use someday *sigh*, but like you I'm also in the process of organising our work areas! We have a playroom-which due to unforeseen circumstances has become a storage room lately! My task over the next few days is to try to make it a livable/workable area again! I like your labeling idea-I've always drawn a picture on our storage boxes (ice-cream containers) but never thought of having a double label on the shelf. I'm going to see if this would work for us too.
    Thanks again, Nikki


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