This post is a bit different. I wanted to post some inspirational classroom designs. If I had an unlimited budget and resources, these are the rooms I would aspire to create. I have laid them out by “center” but in my ideal classroom one center would easily flow into the next. Materials can and should be shared within the centers because life isn’t cut and dry like that. I love spaces that reflect life and learning.
I love so many things about this space from Community Playthings. All of the materials a child could need are at their fingertips. They don’t need to ask an adult to help them retrieve materials. The materials that they do have are organized. I truly believe if you work with children, even young children, they can and will put things away where they found them. The board on the tan wall has pictures for the children to gain inspiration from. There is a handful of clipboards towards the bottom of the picture. Those along with the white board could be used for children to plan our their building before getting into it.
Planning out play helps children think before they jump into a material. It will give them a purpose when heading to a material rather than just dinking around. Purposeful play helps children helps children stay engaged in materials they have because they have a reason to play. They aren’t playing because they have to. They are playing because they want to.
If you read on their blog, this was done all by children. After reading the story it makes me love the space even more! There are wooden blocks to the left and it look like a marble run on the right. The main point of this picture is the center. The light blocks in the window.
How did the blocks get up their? By trusting children. The children put the blocks away like that by climbing up on the steps and standing on the counter. This picture is so beautiful to me. If we trust children enough beautiful, wonderful things happen.
Natural blocks. These are my favorites. They are sturdy enough for children to stand on, and can be built in so many different ways. Legos and other similar building blocks are great, but their movements can be limiting for children. I love the use of logs on the top shelf. Just like the first picture I showed everything is within the reach of children. They have put pictures onto the shelf to help prompt and guide children where and how to put materials away.
The hollow blocks on the bottom left are great for building and can be used as a little step for those who need a little boost. I’ve see children use the hollow blocks to make homes for people, tea lights light them up, and they are wide enough to climb on.
Scissors and tape are great additions to block play! A great way to work on fine motor and scissor skills. This doesn’t have to be attached to the block area, but they go together very well! Having materials like this open for children’s use tells them “Hey, I trust you to make great decisions during your play. I trust you to use scissors without constant supervision.” That doesn’t mean you ignore the tape and scissors. It just means you trust them to make creative decisions on their own. They are in the drivers seat of their play, we are just along for the ride.
The two above are from the same classroom showcased on Fairy Dust Teaching. Seriously, go check out this space. In the top picture, notice these writing materials are low. Why? So children can access them on their own! They also have different writing materials to choose from! Each writes a bit differently which is great practice for children. It promotes independence and early literacy skills.
The shelf of writing materials in the second picture is beautiful. It is so organized and isn’t smashed together. Having children organize by color helps keep the room clean and teaches them sorting by color and material and teaches color recognition naturally.
These two writing areas can be open for children to use as they please. There is always a child or two who loves art and will choose it before other materials. It encourages fine motor skills and shows them that art and writing should be valued and utilized. Allowing free-will like this encourages children to write. Miscellaneous mark making is the first step to forming letters.
I love the use of natural materials here. The baskets with materials and the little den. I know I’ve spoken about the use of natural materials on my Instagram. Using natural materials and neutral colors sets a tone for the room. The pillows have color, but they are a calming color.
Mirrors aren’t used enough in classrooms. They are a great scientific tools and can be used in so many different ways! Reflection, drawing, building- anything! Every classroom needs a space where children can decompress for a bit. They are processing so much throughout the day it can be overwhelming for them. Having areas like this (a lot are used for libraries) give children the opportunity to unwind and process what is going on around them.
This spot is so simple but so beautiful and calming. The shelves aren’t stuffed full, even though they are all facing into the area, materials can be accessed from both sides. While I was reading through before posting I noticed the spotlights in the shelves! It is a darker area (which adds to the coziness) so adding the lights does two things. It allows the items on the shelves to be seen while also adding low lighting to that area.
The rug and pillows gives this area a homey vibe which should be utilized throughout the room. I’ll talk more about that in the section below. Again, the shelves and materials are at a child’s level. Even the materials on the window sill can be easily accessible by children. Rooms where children can access things on their own are so important to promote independence, trust, and accountability.
These next few pictures are a few decor items and full view classrooms.
I love lofts. They add a different element to a classroom that many are lacking. If your space has high ceilings it gives you the opportunity to utilize the upper area of the room. As I have said about most pictures I love that everything is child-friendly. The chairs, shelves, and materials are all at a child’s level, they can grab them as desired. The table is great for meals, art, and play! The block and kitchen area seems to be one large dramatic play area. Which, is totally fine as the blocks on the shelf look to be loose parts which can and should be used wherever children deem necessary. It may be simple but the space allows children to move freely, explore, and be creative.
This space has great natural lighting with their large windows. Materials for children to use are at their level. The triangle can be used to crawl in or climb over! A great way to have gross motor practice inside. The block play area is large, the rug helps visually separate the blocks from the kitchen in the corner. The kitchen in natural and simple. The pops of color are naturally place in there. Pink on the kitchen, blue on the rug, rainbow shelf near the ceiling, green plants on top. Nothing seems forced or overwhelming in this space.
This shelf gives so much to a classroom. Pictures of families and parents in a classroom are comforting for children. It is hard for children to be away from family all day. All pictures are accessible for children. On my Pinterest I have a lot of different ideas on how to showcase pictures of children and family. Photographs make spaces look and feel homey. For children who might miss mom and/or dad, photos are great for them to look at.
Homey spaces create a calm environment because they encourage children through lighting, materials, and how the space is designed to slow down. Slowing down eliminates craziness that can ensue in loud environments. Loud environments are overwhelming for adults and children to process. If you think your kiddos are crazy more often than not, think about how the environment is set up, the colors on the wall, the time of day, the toys set out. All of these things influence how children and adults act.
I love outdoor classrooms. Outdoor classrooms are not utilized enough. They can and should be used in all seasons! Children are natural scientists and the best, most natural learning happens when engaged in nature. Why have a theme of seasons, when you can experience them as they occur naturally? I promise you will get better questions, more engaged minds, and the best discussions. So here are some inspirational outside spaces!
This is one of my favorite pictures. I can just picture their faces as they jump: pure joy. You can read Teacher Tom’s post about muddy play. There are great aspects of this space. The club house, the boat, and the windmill are all great additions to dramatic play. Gross motor is a big proponent of outside play. Children need to run, jump, scream, and stomp, if it happens to be in a mud puddle produced by mother nature, so be it. Teacher Tom is a great advocate for holistic teaching. If you ever want something to read, read his blog.
Again we have water being utilized. Why are adults so afraid of water and children other than the obvious drowning. Which in this case is very unlikely. Water is such an important part of life, it is a great sensory material, and can be used every day for just about anything. I love how natural this space is. Children have sticks to experiment with in the water. Further back they have branches and stumps to climb on. Flat surfaces are great, but uneven surfaces like these benefit children so much more physically and mentally.
This sand box is wonderful. I love that children can fully experience the sand. There are small world spaces, shells, trucks, bowls, and spoons. Doesn’t this picture make you want to take your shoes off and enjoy the sand? For places that get moisture, like me, they make tarps to cover sand boxes and other areas you don’t want to get moisture. Although, the best sand castles are made with water.
Why These are Inspirational Spaces
When I look at a space I ask myself these questions:
- How does this aid the child?
- Is it inviting?
- Does this make me feel calm and positive?
Aid the Child
I loves spaces that promote growth in all areas of development. I want to help children grow into well rounded adults. If a space doesn’t seem to aid children creatively, socially, physically, mentally and independently, it is hard for me to enjoy it. Just becasue I don’t find it inspiring doesn’t mean that children aren’t happy and safe. There are so many ways of designing a space, I prefer a multidimensional space.
Inviting spaces drive me. To me, inviting spaces provoke questions, promote independence while also cultivating a community. Inviting spaces make you want to explore and create. Spaces like these more often than not aid the child in all areas of development. They are thoughtfully planned out with a purpose. Materials are presented in intriguing ways for children to play and explore. Inviting spaces for me are often created with pillows, fairy lights, dim and/or natural lighting, and natural materials. Children are often able to move freely between spaces and can take materials with them to aid their play. Inviting spaces aren’t cut and dry, they are fluid and messy.
Calm and Positive
If a space makes me feel calm and positive, odds are children will feel the same. Children will reflect how an adult feels. They pick up on the vibes adults put out and react accordingly. If you want calm children it helps if you are calm. If you are agitated, children will be more agitated as well. Being in a calm space doesn’t mean the children can’t laugh and enjoy each others company. Being in a calm space influences how they play and interact with each other.
Little Wonders is a great example of the type of environment I want to cultivate. Here is a quick little video glimpse into their environment.
There are so many inspiring spaces and activities I wanted to share. However, you can find them all on my Pinterest!
Thank you for reading! Let me know what inspirational spaces you love!
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If you enjoyed this, check out these other bloggers!
The Repurposed Nanny – She has bits of everything from DIY, Lifestyle, Kids, Recipes, and Decor.
The Playful Learner – Words cannot express how much I love Amber’s blog. She sees childhood and learning just like I do! A time to play and explore through play. I urge you to check out her blog!