Four weeks into the school year, changes are already taking place in the classroom. I quickly discovered that hexagonal tables left too little space even for small grade one children. After a couple of weeks of pencil boxes falling off tables, the children and I decided to trade the hex tables for pods of desks. (Bringing the problem of table space to the children’s attention, they were excited at the idea of having the blue desks that they noticed in other classrooms.) Not only have the desks provided more individual desk space, but they’ve also reduced transitions as children retrieved and stowed their pencil boxes throughout the day.
The pods of desks take up more room than the hexagonal tables, so our meeting place had to shrink. We still have sufficient room for morning and afternoon meetings, though. The floor space at the front of the classroom was very important to me ??? and I’m glad we were able to retain it. The only tight space in the classroom seems to be the storybook corner. However, that space is normally used for smaller groups, and only occasionally for the whole class.
Our morning meetings have become very commonplace, and the children seem to enjoy beginning our day together in this way. This past week I introduced a greeting routine ??? whereby we sit in a circle and greet each other with a smile and a handshake. Since morning meetings provide opportunities for us to learn about everyone in the room (and not just our best friends), next week I will try prompting children to sit beside new friends each day.
The first major project of the school year centres around collecting and exploring stuff ??? recycled and reusable stuff. Showing the children the variety of materials that I had collected over the summer for use in the classroom, I invited them to add to our collection by searching for materials at home. Together, we crafted an invitation to families to help us look for and collect stuff that we can use in our classroom. On the grand opening day, we sat in a circle, opened the bags of stuff, and examined the “new” and fascinating materials. Lately, we have been revisiting these materials often to sort them. Here’s an example of some materials sorted by colour.
Stay tuned to the Room 145 blog for updates as we grow with this project.
In general, this first month of grade one has been strenuous and busy, but always exciting! I learn new things about how children in grade one learn every day. I’m looking forward to October as a month of settling routines, new learning activities for the children, and trying to figure out what place and space yoga has in the classroom.