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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Seek Children’s Ideas about Environments Even when adults try to keep children’s perspectives and “best interests” in mind, we often neglect to directly seek out children’s ideas about the environment. Believing that children have a right to a voice and that their ideas are valuable in the planning and assessment process of an environ- ment requires seeking out ways to understand their thinking. This is often a significant learning process for teachers who have to formulate an inquiry process to align with how children see and experience an environ- ment. Finding good questions and inviting children to express their ideas through conversation, drawing, photographing, and building can illu- minate new ideas and help teachers interpret what’s on children’s minds. Studying children’s drawings and conversations takes practice but can be a tremendously rewarding experience for you and for the children. It is one way of committing yourself to ensuring children’s rights and becoming a more significant person in children’s lives. Children First, Durham, NC Teacher Donna explored Stella’s ideas about the environment in her program by asking her where she feels happy when she plays inside. Stella immediately answered, “Playing inside the loft room. Play with Zella.” Donna asked Stella what she liked to use in her games with Zella, and she replied, “Build the food place.” Stella went on to describe more details as Donna gently asked questions and invited her to draw her ideas. The next day Stella put together an example of where she feels happy by using blocks and creating play food; she then got a camera to photograph her work from several angles. As you look at this drawing Stella made and two of the photos she took, what stands out to you? What similar elements has she captured in both of these representations of her ideas? As Donna studied Stella’s work, she recognized that she often sees Stella playing in the loft room with the wide variety of open-ended materials available there. It confirms for this teacher that things such as the red connector toys are good props because Stella sees many possibilities in them beyond what the manufacturer designed them for. 32  [   Chapter 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL