Chapter 5: The Transitional Kindergarten Learning Environment - TKIG - Lake Harding Association

Chapter 5: The Transitional Kindergarten Learning Environment – TKIG

Chapter 5: The Transitional Kindergarten Learning Environment – TKIG

By Micah Moen 0 Comment October 12, 2019

The Transitional Kindergarten classroom environment
sets the stage for both learning and student/adult interactions. Planning for the design and
organization of the learning environment is critical. The placement of furniture, tables,
and shelving can have a powerful effect on student behavior and learning. The same is
true for the placement of visual markers such as signs and carpet areas. I was able to visit, for example, with the
group, a preschool classroom that was all set up ready to go, and so I took pieces from
that classroom and I used what I had. I really think it’s key to set things up at their eye
level, so that they can see things, they can reach things, and so that was the main thing
that I took with me and used that to set up my classroom. It just really helps having the labels around
and the shelves on the tubs because once it comes to them putting their materials
away, it’s very easy for them to do. They can do it on their own, they don’t need to
come and get me, they can see the labels, see the picture, and know what activity or
what toy goes in which basket. The indoor classroom needs designated spaces
for large group instruction, small group learning, as well as individual exploration. So we paid a lot of attention to the centers,
the design; that there’s a lot of little nooks and crannies within the classroom where children
can go. And, that’s the kind of setting we wanted to create. We replaced the big old rectangular tables
with smaller round tables. Made more room, more open space. My husband built these nice
cubbies to go down the middle of the room. And so, I have an area that’s carpeted, where
there’s lots of centers over there, kids can come over and pull a box off the counter and
set up a center easily, and work there on the carpet. And other kids can be sitting
on the other side of that cubbie wall, and be doing something else. Maybe they’re working
with my aide or with me. And so, it sort of separated that noisier play from the quieter area. We needed small bookshelves that the children could
access. We needed little storage. We needed a play area, so we wanted house furniture.
We wanted the table and chairs. We wanted to have a wardrobe to put play clothes in.
And we set upon…I think there’s about 7 or 8 centers that we decided we would provide
and we’d tell our teachers, “You will provide these centers,” but we felt that since we
were telling them they needed to provide them, we needed to provide the materials. I have centers in the classroom and they are
positioned all around and in the middle. And the contents of those change but the centers
remain the same. At each center, we have a piece of paper that
has 5 slots, and so the kids have tickets, or their cards with their name on it, and
when center time begins, they grab their card, and they go ahead and put it in whatever center
that they would like to go to. We have a science center, you know we try to provide them with opportunities to get hands-on experiences
in science using all five senses. We have a writing center as far as… you know, fine
motor for letters. And math center is full of manipulatives for them to make patterns, to
sort, to count. We also tend to incorporate our smart board at the math center and put
up flip charts that have patterning, or adding or counting and so that is usually a part
of the math center. So we have an art center; usually there’s painting going on. Sometimes
we have cutting and gluing. Shaving cream on an easel where they put up shaving cream
and they make shapes or letters. High-quality early learning environments are
created through intentional planning, implementation and evaluation. Program design is a reflective
process. The classroom will evolve and change over time as the teacher grows and as student
needs change. TK teachers pay attention to students’ work and emerging interests. This
will inspire program planning and the development of learning areas throughout the school year. There are some centers that change according
to whatever lessons or themes that we’re working on. We have a listening center. And we have
a block center as well where the children have freedom to build whatever they want to. And then we have a
dramatic play center which when we started out in September was a house. And then it
turned into a medical center now, so we’re working on a health unit. That can include
a veterinarian’s office, it includes a doctor’s office, a dentist, and we try to supply them
with materials to be able to act out the different scenarios at a medical center, not just one specific type of office. TEACHER: “Do you think that shot will do for you?”
STUDENT: “Make you feel better and have no coughs.”
TEACHER: “There you go. Will it keep you healthy?”
STUDENT: “Yup.” TK students benefit from regular opportunities
to experience and explore the outdoor play yard. Student-initiated challenges in outdoor
environments permit them to push their limits and build awareness of their strengths and
emerging abilities. We know that children need a lot of large
motor developmental experiences in order to grow and develop. So before you can write,
you have to be able to do the big things, the brain needs that. Outdoors, we’re able to use our bodies in
a much more large motor skill fashion. And we have some small little garden spaces which
fit nicely in with our science curriculum. We’re able to plant seeds and watch the growth
of plants. We do some math and measurements with that over time. We do writing with our
garden by going out and recording and drawing pictures of what we see happening in the garden,
and then thinking about those words that we want to attach to those pictures. And, sometimes, activities that originate
in the indoor classroom can be extended into the outdoor environment. We take a lot of things that we use indoors
outdoors. For example, we have, music and musical instruments. We have books, we have
things for them to do art. We have lots of blocks. Besides, the playground equipment.
We have lots of sand toys out there. We do water-play outside sometimes. STUDENTS: “Let me try it everywhere. How much water is the most? This one or this one?” Science lends itself great to the outdoors,
math, physical education, of course. But even going outside and just making some observations
and then, bringing those ideas back into the classroom. Sometimes going out and taking
a breath of fresh air and then coming back in and having a conversation about it, is
enough to kind of re-energize the kids as well. So, I use it, outside, both in a very
planned manner but when I see that the kids are sort of falling apart with me, short-attention
spans and difficulties with whatever it is, taking a breath of fresh air, finding something
they will look at and then coming back in refreshed. “Let me see your dance!…
Lorenzo! Let me see your dance!…
Lorenzo! Let me see your dance!”

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