April 7, 2008

Afterschool design

Create a regular schedule and a well organized room so the children develop a familiarity and sense of comfort with their environment. Begin and end sessions in "circle", where you plan and reflect.

1. Reflect light into the room with mirrors and light colored murals. Allow free air flow through the room. Grow live plants, Keep washable surfaces clean. Avoid fabrics and rugs (allergy and asthma triggers)

2. Use moveable mats, shelves, play areas.

3. Color code areas for free play, art, reading, math, plants, kitchen, dress up. Paint or decorate each area with a color theme. Create a map of the room with these colors.

4. Have a familiar schedule that the room fits. Circle, snack, free play, rest time, outdoor play are all familiar and comforting. Create a "circle" area with shelves stocked with calendars, reading and math games, musical instruments, large story books.

Make a list of things you need and break them into categories:

1. Things you can buy used from thrift stores, flea markets, garage sales and Goodwill. These include hard (cleanable) toys like blocks, trucks, legos, kitchen play areas, washable rubber mats, plastic and rubber numbers and letters, and hard plastic or rubber animals. Wash everything with soap and hot water even if it seems clean to you.

2. Things people will donate. Make a list of things you need and post it everywhere. For example: art supplies (scrap paper, washed out tin cans for holding paint and brushes, rubber bands, string, fabric), books (specify ages).

3. Things you should buy new. a) Indoor moveable play areas. Soft vinyl covered foam works well for all ages. It can double as a play area and a rest and reading area. These should be new (for safety and cleanliness). b) educational supplies, like calendars, flash cards, puzzles. Montessori materials are often good, and check out science supply houses. Here is a comparison shopping web site. Just search for "play mats" or "educational supplies" http://www.nextag.com/