Monday, July 14, 2014

The Environment as a Third Teacher: FDK Across Ontario

When I was introduced to the concept of the Environment as a Third Teacher it was through my Reggio Inspired book club locally. I was blown away by the beauty when visiting different child care centres in our area. The educators had thought deeply about their decisions and created spaces that were so inviting, warm, and welcoming for their children.

How could I bring this beauty into Full Day Kindergarten? What might it look like? How could I make the best use of our space?

Setting up a classroom environment is always a challenge, but an exciting one. The most incredible part for educators in Ontario is that you have a partner to do it with next year! What a blessing to have another educator who is equally invested in creating the best possible space for the young learners in your program.

At the beginning of the school year, I asked the educators in our building to open up their doors and share what their spaces looked like at the beginning of the year:

Reflections from our course:
  • Control what you can control...every room will come with challenges that are out of your control (# of windows, carpet, where the sink it, where plugs area...)
  • Great debate about concept of having a math and/or writing table. We had participants with excellent arguments for both - some felt the space invited those skills, others felt those skills were being addressed in depth in all areas of the room.
  • One step at a time! Changing and reflecting on your classroom can feel like an overwhelming process. Start with one area, one wall, one aspect - make it manageable for yourself!
  • Idea of having "open" provocation tables that are not designated for math, literacy, puzzles etc. Tables in the middle of the room that can be changed or altered based on interests and provocations throughout the year.
This summer, I reached out to some of the educators I know and collaborate with across Ontario. I thought it would be really helpful for the educators in our course to see the different ways that a room may be structured, set up, and created.

This video was powerful in showing what it really may look like in Full Day Kindergarten - and provided so much inspiration for the learners in our course that we wanted to share it!


  1. Wow! This was SO inspiring. How do you keep the logs that are on the floor from scratching the floor.

  2. Hi Rhonda! Our flooring is a vinyl "hardwood" so we haven't found that the logs scratched the surface. I have seen other classrooms cut out and glue a piece of felt to the bottom so that the log can be pushed easily on the floor without scratching it.

  3. Absolutely beautiful. I am inspired to look critically at our classroom when I go back in September. The drama centre has been a place I've neglected for too long... time to renovate, involving my soon-to-be FDK students!


  4. Stunning! Some new teachers will be joining my team in September & I will share this inspiring video to encourage them to think critically about their environments.

    Thank you so much for sharing!
    Rachel (",) - @HilaryWhite3