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

Too (Louise) Kool For School

With the summer months winding down and warm weather slowly fading into a memory, hazy August days mean the start of classroom planning and design. Every year I start by taking a mental inventory of my current personal educational toolkit and then begin to fill in the gaps with wish list items I have been compiling all summer. It had been some time since 4ever Inspired had met, and when the invite to visit the Louise Kool & Galt showroom came from Joanne Babalis, I knew I couldn’t miss an exciting school planning opportunity. It seemed as though my classroom planning and a long overdue visit with the girls were serendipitously aligned.

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Louise Kool & Galt is a premier classroom resource, furniture, game, outdoor learning, and educational tools provider. When Joanne invited us to join her on a tour of their showroom, I knew we were in for an exciting afternoon. Jim Robb, President of Louise Kool & Galt, states that, “we respond to the needs of our customers and stay abreast of quickly evolving best-practices in early childhood education. One of the greatest progressions in educational is the movement toward natural classroom environments with the use of natural, realistic materials to engage curiosity and enhance learning”.

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Those who have followed this blog know that while I do not teach in the Kindergarten or Primary divisions, I do believe that a natural and open-ended learning environment as well as high-quality materials and curiosity, make for the best kind of learning. Leafing through Louise Kool & Galt’s catalogue, I see their items are a perfectly curated list of everything I was looking for heading into this school year.

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When we arrived at the showroom we were greeted by Cathy Elliott and Sonia Polak, two sales representatives with an in-depth knowledge of classroom design and the tools to facilitate the creation of a dream classroom experience. Cathy and Sonia, lead us through the showroom highlighting items such as magnetic blocks, light-tables, anatomically correct baby dolls, indoor-outdoor furniture and much more. Sonia and Cathy spoke to us about the importance of creating strong foundations for student learning and the value of creating spaces for child-centred, innovative learning experiences.

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Thank you to Louise Kool & Galt and Cathy and Sonia for the amazing tour, conversation and welcome. 4ever Inspired’s Jocelyn Schmidt, Trista Dutt, Joanne Babalis and I were buzzing with excitement when we left.

For our readers, the best part was that we did not leave empty-handed! Louise Kool & Galt generously gifted us with $50.00 gift certificates to give away to our readers as a thank you for following our adventures and hopefully inspire you in your practice and classroom setup this coming year. To help you with your shopping, have a look at my Top Ten Wish List Items, all of which are available at this amazing all-in-one store. Enter to win the contest on Instagram!

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10. Roomscapes Island 24″ H from Community Playthings

This amazing island can be used as a Makerspace, standing desk, collaborative table and storage space. Furniture that can be moved and re-imagined in the space is necessary in a classroom that evolves and changes as the needs of the learners do.

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  1. Model 2 Lofts from Community Playthings

I first saw a loft built-into a preschool classroom at the Seneca Lab School, I loved it! I immediately gravitated to the space and instantly knew that I would one day like to see one in my own space. If your classroom ceilings have an 8-foot clearance I would definitely look into having a loft find it’s way into your classroom learning space

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  1. Outlast Project Table Sets with Benches Community Playthings

Taking the learning outside can not only stimulate and refresh the brain, it can provide students with a much needed dose of inspiration. These outdoor project-tables are designed to allow for collaboration as well as to stand up to the elements. I would extend this wish list item to include the outdoor learning storage benches as the goal would be to create a garden that could be used by the entire school. (Think: science class, cooking club, math, literacy…the sky is LITERALLY the limit!)

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  1. K’NEX Intro to Simple Machines, K-8 Construction Set and Intro to Structures and Bridges

Ok, so I may have cheated on this one a little! K’Nex: simple machines, construction set and structures, oh my! This is the trifecta of building, the possibilities here are endless. I love the versatility of K’Nex in that it can be used in so many creative and imaginative ways, as well as the possibility to connect to curricular expectations in a very direct way.

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6. Lokon Sets

This 492 piece set of geometric construction materials can provide students with endless possibilities to create, invent and imagine. These unique shapes will have students designing and experimenting with the elements of design and creation.

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  1. Connecting Cuisenaire Rods Multi-Pack

These colourful blocks are based on a 1 cm unit and demonstrate the volume of a number. They aid in the development of concrete foundational knowledge and encourage students to manipulate numbers, build models, understand patterning and greater spatial awareness. Due to their versatility and cross-strand applicability, these blocks can truly go a long way in a math lesson.

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  1. Light Cube

I must admit, I have always wanted a light table in my classroom. I am not sure why this has been delegated as an early years tool exclusively? This durable cube features a long lasting LED light source, is portable for use indoors and outdoors and includes a rechargeable battery. Use all 5 sides of the easy-to-clean surface. It strobes, flashes and changes colour with the touch of a button! Ideal for art, exploration activities or adding interest to counting, sorting, sequencing and building activities.

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  1. Human X-Rays – Set of 18 and What’s Inside X-Ray Cards

These life-sized human X-rays offer a glimpse into the human body and can be viewed on a  light table to expose the authentic detail of a real skeletal system. Arrange the 18 pieces together to reproduce the entire body of a 1.5m (5′) tall young adult. The teacher’s guide includes reproducible artwork and information on radiography. The What’s Inside X-Ray Cards offers a glimpse into the human body while in motion. These super cool picture cards feature systems such as the skeletal, muscular and nervous systems.

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2. White Board Caddy

I often use white boards in my mini-lessons but have struggled with baskets and bins that can hold the boards, markers and erasers. This caddy keeps whiteboard supplies organized in a lightweight wooden caddy that can be easily transported from group to group. Small enough to place on a table or desk and provides easy access to materials.

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1. Indoor/Outdoor Pillows

These large versatile pillows will add comfort and durability to your classroom whether it is indoors or out! I love that they come in such calm colours and that they can travel with you on your learning journeys. Their size also means that they are as useful in Kindergarten classes through to Junior and Intermediate students.

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Happy shopping and don’t forget to check out the other members of 4ever Inspired to see what’s on their top 10 lists and to follow us on Instagram for a chance to enter the contest!

For Jocelyn’s Top Ten List click here

For Trista’s Top Ten List click here

For Joanne’s Top Ten List click here

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Thank you so much to Louise Kool & Galt for having us and for providing our readers with such an amazing opportunity.

 

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Contest details and entry criteria can be found on Instagram. Follow each of us and enter on each of our accounts for 4 chances to win!

Jocelyn‘s Instagram Account

Trista‘s Instagram Account

Joanne‘s Instagram Account

With thanks,

Vanessa Bianchi click for my Instagram Account

The Evolving Educator

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Filed under: 4ever inspired, classroom design, classroom materials, classroom setup, collaboration, louise kool and galt

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