Inviting and engaging learning spaces — Part 1 Our Animals Area

Animals

In our house we have a number of little “play spaces” that are designed to initiate learning. We rotate or add to the areas often. In Unschooling terms this is called “Strewing” which is simply placing items of interest where they will be found.

When you are creating a fun and engaging learning space:

  • Make it attractive — don’t over-clutter.
  • Choose a theme and stick to it!
  • Mix it up — use both “educational resources” and “toys”.
  • Include some “old favourites” — often if something they love is included, they will gravitate to the area.
  • Ensure that resources allow for a variety of play — the more they can “do” in the area, the longer it will keep their interest!
  • Use what you have  —  you don’t need a bunch of new things to make the area feel new.

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Make it attractive — don’t over-clutter.

Less is more, I struggle with this as I want to put EVERYTHING there! So what I do now is hold onto a few extra items to add once they have become bored with what is there.

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Choose a theme and stick to it!

This book Pop-up, Pull-out, Animal Atlas was the inspiration for this area. It is a lovely book with lots of engaging pages, that really keep the kids’ attention! As well as a really good way to continue to incorporate geography and the continents into their learning. So my theme is born! Now just look for things that are within the theme — I give the theme a little name (this one was “Animals and the world”) and when I am deciding on items I ask myself if it fits the name.

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Mix it up — use both “educational resources” and “toys”.

I believe that it is important that playing and learning are one and the same. Children then often feel that learning is as much fun as their favourite games and toys.

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Include some “old favourites” — often if something they love is included, they will gravitate to the area.

If your children often play with something that works with your theme include it! It is the best way to ensure that quickly find and become interested in the area. Both of my children can’t get enough elephants so it was an obvious choice for me to include a few of their favourites!

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Ensure that resources allow for a variety of play — the more they can “do” in the area, the longer it will keep their interest!

I always try to ensure that the space has something to engage them in as many ways as possible, the more senses they use, the more they will recall any learning that happens and it will keep them interested for weeks  :)

If you are stuck think about if you have items that encourage:

  • Creative play
  • Logical and critical thinking 
  • Reading and writing
  • Tactile learning

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Use what you have  —  you don’t need a bunch of new things to make the area feel new.

An area may be inspired by a new book, toy or activity although it is not necessary to use new items in your area. The only new item in this animals area is the Animal Atlas, everything else is something that we had already.

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April 27, 2014 - 10:42 am

Bek @ Just For Daisy - So many wonderful animals here! I love the concept of using what you have… we try to do that where we can too. And it helps you look at things in a new light if you really try to use them in new situations! :) Thanks for sharing!

April 27, 2014 - 9:35 pm

admin - I love it when you can create a “new” and exciting space from old things :) Thank you so much for your support!

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