We get lots of questions about our classroom design. Specifically, the how and why of each area of the classroom. Today we’re doing to show you our whole group instruction area and give you some specifics on why we set up our whole group instruction area the way we do and how it works.
Our whole group area is the heart of our classroom. This is where we gather for our morning meetings to start our day. We end our day here with a dance party. And this is where we listen to stories, work on phonics and sight words, and learn how to add and subtract. If we’re doing a whole group lesson, we’re in this area!
Classroom Design: Whole Group Area
The first thing to notice about our whole group instruction area is that it is in the center of the classroom. This is a very deliberate choice. You see, I believe that in everything we do in our classrooms, we must put our students at the center of those decisions. Having this whole group area in the physical center of our space serves as a constant reminder of that motto: keep the kids at the center of it all.
Whole Group Area: How And Why
So let’s discuss our whole group area specifics!
The rug is an interactive rug from Alive Studios. It features 26 animals that come alive in augmented reality using the app. The animals also make it easy for the kids to find a spot. Our rule is to sit or stand on an animal. And they can choose any seat they want, there are no assigned seats on the rug.
The trampoline is used as a behavior incentive. I might see someone doing something kind and I say: “Thank you for helping your friend, go bounce!” Or “great answer! Go bounce!” That’s it. No one is allowed on the trampoline without permission. If we break that rule, it immediately goes away for the day. The trampoline is placed in the center of the carpet for safety.
Another reason for the placement of our whole group area is design and logistics. Our smartboard is placed in this spot so of course, we want our whole group area at the smartboard. The stages were built by my dad and me. The stages have a very utilitarian purpose: so five-year-olds can reach the board! It also serves as an instructional platform, dancing platform, and seating area. Plus, my dad is so smart, that he used dry erase material for the light-up platform so you can use it to write on!
AND, ya’ll, the lid on our wooden stage opens so it’s full of storage and stuff!
The easel or writing chart as we call it is the hub of our whole group area. This is where we do our morning message each day. This is where we do our TKS Bootcamp phonics lessons and math lessons. The easel has drawers where I store materials for lessons and it houses our snack drawer. What I love about this easel is the storage options help keep things organized so our lessons can flow better. There is storage for markers, Post-It Notes, I Have Who Has cards, and big books, and when you flip the chart paper, it slides down behind the easel so you can access both sides of the easel! The easel is called the Royal Inspiration Station and can be found on Amazon.
The name chart is a vital piece of our classroom because we have no tables or desks so we have no name tags. The name chart provides a reference for students when learning to write their names. It is also a tool that benefits substitutes and visitors in our classroom.
Finally, we have our alphabet line and number line. These are a tool that we use for instruction and the students use these as learning tools all year long. Having them here allows us to refer to them during lessons. And because of the stage, we can hop up and point to the letters and numbers easily!
The letters and numbers were created by me and are available in our TKS and TPT Stores! The ones you see are from our Orange And Green set. We also have a rainbow set that uses REAL pictures that will be used in our classroom this year!