Vanessa Bianchi
Educator and learner. The opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the York Region District School Board.

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The ladies of #4EverInspired have teamed up once again for a celebratory giveaway! We cannot believe that September is over already and thought that since we were getting together to share a few of our favourite classroom items that we would celebrate with you all as well by sharing them with you! Be sure to head over to Instagram to follow our accounts, share your favourite September moment and enter for a chance to win some of our very favourite classroom treats!

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I have written about classroom setup and the importance that I place on the environment being the third teacher before. I truly believe that when students are invited into spaces that are reflective of their learning needs, aesthetically pleasing and chalk full of inspiration, the sky’s the limit.

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With September almost behind us and likely with the emergent phases of inquiry beginning to take shape, the ladies of 4ever Inspired have decided to host another giveaway! This one will feature highlights from what each one of us deem as integral parts of our personal classroom setup and inventory. This list is by no means exhaustive, nor can it be considered a guide to “must-haves”, it is however, a curation of items that each of us deem essential to our individual practices and preferences. When designing and setting up a classroom.

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Creating and narrowing this list was tough and for this reason, it is in no particular order and has omitted things like art supplies and a variety of reading material:

  1. Fabric

My grandmother was a seamstress and growing up I spent much time watching her work with fabric. It was then that fabric became a part of my regular repertoire of art and crafting materials. I would make purses, draw, make clothes for my dolls and experiment with various art supplies on leftover pieces of fabric that fell from my grandmother’s sewing table. Fabric adds an element of whimsy to the regular offerings of paper in a Makerspace or supply atelier. It also adds warmth to provocations and can be sewn together to create masterpieces.

  1. Vintage Serving Pieces

I have always collected milk glass, teacups, and silver serving trays. I pick them up when I travel  or pass by antique shops and garage sales. When I began my classroom transformation some years ago (and also due to storage constraints in the condo in which I live) I started bringing these pieces into the classroom. They have been used to store art materials, as props in classroom presentations or even as discussion pieces or provocations.

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  1. Fresh flowers and plants

A few years back, when a friend of mine got married, she dubbed me her “flower captain”, this is because I love flowers! Whether it be plants or fresh cut, individual or elaborate arrangements, adding fresh flowers and greenery to a classroom changes the feeling and energy in the space. When I invite guests to dinner I always consider flowers in my meal planning and table setup. When I set up learning invitations and opportunities, it seems natural to me to consider the natural elements I can add as well. This year I will focus on adding fruit and vegetable bearing plants as well as herbs to our classroom garden, I hope that not only can these be used in our cooking club but that the fragrance can add sensory appeal to the classroom.  

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  1. Markers

I know I am not alone in loving novel writing utensils. I like to ensure a variety of high end writing materials are always on hand in the classroom. Sharpies, Mr. Sketch and Crayola are my preferred brands as they are long-lasting and write well. I also encourage educators to bring in high-quality pens and ink and quills for an added element of magic in the classroom.

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  1. Baskets, bins and crates

I hate clutter but in a classroom with 28 students, shared lockers and no storage in my desks or tables, it is often hard to find enough storage space for materials and student work. I have found baskets to be the easiest solution to this problem. They can be removed and brought to a work space and make it easy for students to return their materials. I also like the natural look of baskets and wicker bins on the shelf and have found that I can purchase them from thrift stores for a very reasonable price.

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6. Ambient Lighting

I cannot stress enough the importance of softening the lighting in classroom spaces. In my room we often work with all the overhead lighting off and only the lamps and LED tea lights on. This adds a cozy, warm and soft lighting to the space. When I do turn on overhead lights I find that the energy in the classroom changes and that student often become distracted or off task. I ensure that light bulbs are low-energy and give off low-no heat. While these light bulbs do cost a little bit more, they have lasted me for quite a while. Twinkle lights and lava lamps also add a special glow to the classroom. 

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7. Accessibility to Technology

Technology in a 21st century learning environment has now become an integral tool for learning and teaching. Whether it be computers for research and planning, cell phones for documenting or capturing notes and homework, there is no denying the impact and importance of accessibility to technology in the classroom context. Ipads, Makey Makeys, Drones, Little Bits, Squishy Circuits and the list goes on.

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8. Thank you cards

There are few things that delight me more than receiving or giving a thank you card. I believe that it is important to acknowledge when someone has done something to help you or that shows that they have thought about you. I enjoy the process of slowing down and letting someone know that something they have done has not gone unnoticed and for this reason I always have them on-hand. I also have cards for students to give to others as a sign of gratitude and in this way embed this notion into our classroom norms. You can even make and distribute your own thank you cards and notes.

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9. Coffee table, inspirational books, sketchbooks and resource books

Ok, so this one is a bit of a cheat but I couldn’t decide between them! Books, books, books! I love to have coffee table and inspirational books stacked on desks, tables and shelves. Students can access them when they are working, to spark writing ideas, to self-regulate or just to enjoy! Sketchbooks can be used during independent reading, art, planning or just to sort out thoughts. Resource books help me in my planning and to gain inspiration or reminders. There are no shortage of books on hand in my classroom and their uses are endless.

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10. Eachother!

My most essential resource is other educators. The importance of collaboration as an integral part of the practice of teaching! This ideology should be embedded into the fabric that is education and for this reason I mention it in this post. Speaking of collaboration, be sure to check out #4everInspired’s other members for more.

Be sure to check out Instagram for your chance at winning one of four amazing prizes as well as the other #4everInspired member’s pages to read about their top-ten favourites for classroom setup as well.

Kindie Korner’s Trista Dutt

Transform Ed.’s Joanne Babalis

Our Kindergarten Journey’s Jocelyn Schmidt

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Reflectively yours,

#4everInspired

The Evolving Educator

 

Filed under: 4ever inspired, classroom design, classroom materials, classroom setup, collaboration, growth mindset, literacy, modern learning, partnership, Resources

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  1. Maria Kollias:
    Hi: just wanted say... fabulous blog & thanx for Great Beginnings - I've implemented some of your great ideas!
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