Key Element: Spaces
Our classrooms are designed with a variety of interest centers that provide children with opportunities to make decisions, explore materials, engage in investigations and activities and offer a clear range of choices in support of the development of the whole child. These centers provide for a range of curriculum content (including language and literacy, science and math, blocks and dramatic play, art and creative expression, music and movement, and water and sensory experiences). Interest areas help “channel” and focus children's attention and decision-making while supporting individual interests and collective efforts. Choice is intentionally built within classroom daily routines, allowing children the requisite time to work within and across a variety of interest areas in the classroom. Teachers use well-defined spaces within their classroom to intentionally provoke interest and extend learning. Although outdoor learning is important in stimulating learning through natural playscapes, hills, gardens, etc. and is referenced within resources throughout the site, the focus of this tool is on the indoor learning environment.
The hot spots represented on the panoramic tour represent a sample of this particular Key Element. Explore the Video Clips in this section to learn more.
- Spaces Overview - Teachers discuss the intention behind well-defined spaces and interest centers
- Teacher Insight - Teachers describe classroom spaces/interest centers in the learning environment
- Where Do I Begin?
- Lighting within Classroom Spaces (Featured Clip)
- Planned Possibilities (Featured Clip)
Spaces: Interest Centers that include places for individual and group activities that incorporate variety and complexity, both indoors and outdoors.
- Room Environment Planning and Related DRDP Measures (90k PDF)
- Centering Your Classroom: Setting the Stage for Engaged Learners (328k PDF)
- Environments That Inspire (1.9MB PDF)
- How Design of the Physical Environment Impacts Early Learning: Educators' and Parents' Perspectives - Australasian Journal of Early Childhood
Berris, Rebecca & Miller, Evonne (172k PDF)
- Early Learning Environments, UC Davis (3.2MB PDF)
- Inspiring Spaces for Young Children by Jessica DeViney et al.
- Designs for Living and Learning: Transforming Early Childhood Environments by Deb Curtis & Margie Carter
- Cultivating Outdoor Classrooms: Designing and Implementing Child-Centered Learning Environments by Eric Nelson
- Rethinking Early Childhood Environments to Enhance Learning By Curtis, Deb; Carter, Margie (YC: Young Children Academic Journal)
Many strategies and elements included throughout this site are applicable to all students and their families. Additional information/resources related to students with disabilities and family engagement can be found within the HQELE Online Tool Overview and MiraCosta Child Development Center Overview (Download/Reference Sections).
*These slideshow images are being used with explicit permission from MiraCosta College and their families for the sole purpose of the HQELE professional development online tool. All images remain the property of the California Department of Education, Special Education Division, SEEDS Project, A Special Project of the Sacramento County Office of Education and may not be published, exhibited, broadcast, posted on the Internet, sold, traded, shared, or used in any way not specified without the written permission of CDE- SEEDS Project.