Classroom Design For Preschool

The classroom design, or way in which you set up your classroom, will determine how comfortable your students and families are and how productive you are!

Classroom design can decrease or increase negative behavior in the classroom! Too many open areas just scream “PLEASE! Run here!” or so it seems to the children!

When your classroom is set up with the goal of letting children know what can be done in each area, it sends a comforatable and secure message to them, the families and you and your co-teachers.

The design of your classroom will largely be determined by the amount of space you have, where the windows and doors are located and the type of flooring you have in each area.

Most classrooms are organized around Interest Learning Centers Let's talk about where the best space for each interest center is in the classroom to help determine the best classroom design for your space.

Below we’ll review each area. The Art Center, Easel and Sand and Water table(s) are potentially "messy” activities and are best set up on flooring rather than on a carpet for obvious reasons!

Library and Block areas are best set up on a carpeted area for comfort and noise control with regard to the blocks!

Dramatic Play can be anywhere in your classroom as can your math/manipulatives center and your computer, if you have one.

When determining your classroom design, think about how each interest center is used and, therefore, the activity level desired in each.

The reason for this is to ensure that you do not put a center that is active and, at times, loud (like your dramatic play area) next to your library area or computer where the children are trying to listen to a story or computer story.

Once you have determined which areas to keep away from each other, draw it out on paper.

How does it look to you? Is there a natural flow from interest center to interest center and throughout the classroom?

Below are some questions to consider for each Interest Learning Center. You can click on each Interest Center and a new window will open giving you suggestions for materials and supplies to have in that specific interest center as well as some activities for the that interest center. The Art Center:

Where will children put their finished art? Can they get to the finished art spot without having to carry a very, heavily painted paper through ALL of the other interest centers (this could be messy!)?

Is the Art Area close to the hand washing sink or bathroom? This will be important on days that you fingerpaint!

The Block Center

I recommend this area to be against a wall, preferably a corner of the room. This allows enough storage by having 2 corners of wall.

It also provides a space for the children to build without other children knocking down their structures as would happen if this were in the middle of the room.

Cooking Area

Again, this area should be somewhere close to a hand washing sink or bathroom so the children do not have to carry food or walk with sticky hands through the entire classroom!

Dramatic Play

This is a very active area! It can be anywhere in your classroom! The only place I do not recommend is near an area that is meant to be a quiet, relaxing area such as the Library or the Computer.

Fine Motor or Manipulatives Interest Center

It would be great to have shelving to place the games and activities on for the children to choose.

Provide a table and chairs near the area that the materials are so that the children do not have far to walk with the box or bin of items in their hands.

Library

It would be best for this area to be on a carpeted area of the room, however, that is not necessary. You can provide small area carpets or carpet squares for the children to lay on while reading as well as chairs, a small table for audio books, or a child sized couch.

Math Center

This center is usually combined with the Fine Motor Activities Center (or also called the Manipulatives or Table Toy Center).

Like the manipulatives center, the items should be placed where the children can see them and choose from them. Be sure to provide a comfortable place with a table and chairs near the area for the children to use the materials at.

Sand and Water Table

Preferably, this area should be on a floor where clean up is quicker, that is not always possible.

Our classroom had indoor/outdoor commercial carpeting throughout the entire room!

Having a plastic mat (such as a tablecloth or other NON absorbent covering ) under the table works just fine. Be sure to have clean-up materials nearby such as towels, a bucket, adult and child-sized mops, brooms and dustpans. DON’T BE AFRAID TO CHANGE THE CLASSROOM DESIGN……….OFTEN!

If the set up doesn’t work for your group, change it! Some reasons to change or modify your classroom design may be:

Too much running in classroom: This is a sign that areas of your classroom just scream "RUN HERE! RUN HERE! to the children. You may need to reduce your "runway" space by either modifying that area or adding something in the middle. You could add a table for playdough or puzzles.

The Library has become a dramatic play area: Is your library located near your dramatic play area? If so, the children may naturally use your library as an extension area of play. If you expect your library to be a quiet area, it is important to locate it near other quite learning centers.

Also, do you use your library as circle time? If so, the children have "learned" that this is a place where we sing, dance and move around a lot!

We change or modify our room design often. Dramatic Play moves from one end of the room to the other about once a month!

Yes, children like consistency, but change is not taboo! When we have made changes to our environment, we talk with the kids about it right away! One of their favorite circle time activities has been when the teacher asked them, “Does anyone notice anything different about our room today?”.

Classroom design, when determined based on how the space should be used, will help your children to know what they can do in what area. This will help them to feel confident in their preschool environment and reduce negative behavior.

Having well defined plans will also help you and your co-workers to feel calm and peaceful because you have thoughtfully considered the flow of the traffic in your classroom and is will show in your classroom design!

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