This year I began a new position at Campbell Early Childhood Center as their Specials teacher. I teach all of our 4- and 5-year old students three times a week. With the support of our principal, Mrs. Flowers, I’ve been able to transform this position into one that focuses on meeting the socio-emotional and motor developmental needs of all of my students. I’ve been able to work as a part of our school’s behavior team to create a haven for all students to be successful in my classroom, but especially a special place to meet the needs of students who find success at school in non-traditional ways. I have also had the privilege this year of receiving focused Conscious Discipline coaching which has catalyzed innovative and developmentally-appropriate ways to continue setting a strong standard of quality early childhood education within Campbell and Springfield Public Schools.
Moving forward, I want to be creative in integrating developmental opportunities into my classroom itself, rather than simply planning activities to take place inside of a classroom. Along with a Conscious Discipline coach and my principal/Assistant Director of Early Childhood, I’ve chosen two pieces of furniture to become part of my permanent classroom setup to encourage gross motor, cognitive, and socio-emotional development.
The first piece of furniture is a four-piece, carpeted, stage riser set. This is essentially a portable stage, or carpet box, with ramps so the students can walk on and off. These risers are simple, yet remarkable. They will provide an vast landscape for dramatic play where the room itself is incorporated into my students’ development. Classroom read-alouds are elevated when my students can act-out their favorite books on stage, and essential gross-motor muscles are safely developed as students walk, crawl, tip-toe and balance. Literacy, dramatic play, and gross motor development becomes embedded in the classroom setting with the addition of these risers.
The second piece of furniture, is similar, though slightly less traditional. In addition to the classroom stage, I intend to add a classroom climbing structure to the room for the upcoming year. While this may not be as exciting as a rock wall, this play structure includes both stairs and a ramp, as well as a raised platform. Play structures are rarely seen in a traditional classroom setting, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to challenge my students to incorporate these structures into our time together. Ms. Tay’s classroom always boasts far more than just a traditional kitchen dramatic play center. This year my students got to enjoy a garden, a garage, a living room with a fireplace, an office, a school bus, a grocery store, a post office, a closet, a laundry room, a nursery, with even more planned for the year. New classroom furniture like this play gym provides endless opportunities for new dramatic play centers, while also adding gross motor development opportunities into play.
Play IS learning for early childhood students, and this furniture will help align my vision of my room as a hub for imagination, creativity, socio-emotional development, motor development, and behavior support. This project will support every single one of Campbell’s early childhood students in providing them the out-of-the-box education that is just-right for all learners in so many ways.
- Need Represented: The need for integrated, indoor classroom play that meets socio-emotional, cognitive, and motor needs.
- Academic Impact: Play is an essential part in early childhood learning. There are few indoor play activities that effortlessly integrate gross-motor development with socio-dramatic play. These pieces of furniture will provide my students with more opportunities to develop time-sensitive skills with access to an environment that traditional classrooms do not provide. The teacher will be able to plan dramatic and gross-motor activities using the stage and the play structure aligned with the Wonder Years ELLC curriculum.
- Student Population: I serve all of Campbell Early Childhood Center's students. There are over 100 four- and five- year old children who visit my classroom three times a week for lessons, time, and activities in all the "special" things. Many of our families face some sort of financial need, and many of the students are working with some sort of behavior need. I serve them all. Many of these students begin the school year with little or no experience in a classroom setting, and in one school year the Wonder Years program prepares them for kindergarten in so many ways.