Our classes do not have that much space to construct and build with loose parts. We use the same space to build as our circle time space. This means that every time children are building something they have to break it apart again because of circle time and they need a place to sit down. I wanted to create a space where children could build and come back again for more.
Why do I find constructing with loose parts so important?
I got really excited thinking about creating a learning space in which children can construct, build and play with loose parts. Some people would ask, what is the big hype? It is just playing with blocks or.... whatever!
But the importance is that constructing with loose parts can help children develop skills they need later in life.
First of all, children are allowed to play and use their imagination. This is because loose parts are not fixed or in other words they are open ended materials. It can become anything the child wants it to become. Therefore, can have a purpose and a function, and it is up to the child's imagination what that will be. By using imagination, a child will have to think "out of" the box or probably even "beyond the" box. This will help them later in life to think critticaly and solve problems.
What you usually see is that children start to explain what they are making or what they have made to others. This will help them grow confidence in speaking skills without giving any pressure. To be able to explain your thinking to someone is a skill that we all need when we are adults.
Furthermore, loose parts give great opportunities for collaboration and we all know that collaboration is a skill we need at any stage of our life.
Creating the learning space...How it all started!
So there was a dilemma, because there was no space in our classrooms anymore. So I looked around Preschool and found a space that was right at the end of our hallway. There was nothing there to be found in this space and it was also a little dark. I am not a architect or designer, so I met up with my friend Feda. She is a good friend an architect and she made all the drawings for our book Jasmine & Kay. So we met and brainstormed my ideas for the learning space. I told Feda all my ideas and she started sketching it out.
Ideas for the learning space
So it was clear that I wanted a construction area. But I wanted a bit more than that. I wanted to have a Lego table on which children could build and I wanted them to be able to create things side ways as well. Not all children want to collaborate and construct, so for those children I wanted a space where they could sit down and read a book. I wanted to play with different levels to differentiate the spaces. Most of all, I wanted to see a learning wall. A big wall where children can draw and be creative.
Feda took everything in consideration and added some ideas like the drop down ceiling and the reading tree where we can place our books on shelves.
I was on a budget and fortunately Feda was able to get me good materials for cheap. I also shopped a few things at Ikea, Informa and Ace Hardware. It took about one and half week to put everything together. I was super proud of the area and has now become a popular place to construct and collaborate for all our students.