DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET D esigns for Living and Learning Transforming Early Childhood Environments Deb Curtis and Margie Carter Second Edition COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Designs for Living and Learning COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Other Redleaf Press Books by Deb Curtis and Margie Carter The Art of Awareness: How Observation Can Transform Your Teaching, second edition Learning Together with Young Children: A Curriculum Framework for Reflective Teachers Reflecting Children’s Lives: A Handbook for Planning Your Child-Centered Curriculum, second edition Reflecting in Communities of Practice: A Workbook for Early Childhood Educators, with Debbie Lebo and Wendy C. M. Cividanes Training Teachers: A Harvest of Theory and Practice The Visionary Director: A Handbook for Dreaming, Organizing, and Improvising in Your Center, second edition COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Designs for Living and Learning • Tran sfor ming E arly Childhood Env ironments Seco n d E d i t i o n Deb Curtis and Margie Carter COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Published by Redleaf Press 10 Yorkton Court St. Paul, MN 55117 © 2003, 2015 by Deb Curtis and Margie Carter All rights reserved. Unless otherwise noted on a specific page, no portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or capturing on any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a critical article or review to be printed in a magazine or newspaper, or electronically transmitted on radio, television, or the Internet. First edition published 2003. Second edition 2015. Cover design by Jeanne K. Hunt Cover photograph by Jeanne K. Hunt taken at Kids’ Domain Early Learning Centre in Auckland, New Zealand Interior design by Erin New Typeset in Minion and Whitney Interior photos/illustrations provided by the authors or programs cited Quotation on page 263 excerpted from “A Lazy Thought” from There Is No Rhyme For Silver by Eve Merriam. Copyright © 1962 Eve Merriam. © Renewed 1990. Used by permission of Marian Reiner. Appendix B, “Getting to Know the Assessment Tool” from Bloom, Paula Jorde, Ann Hentschell, and Jilla Bella. (2013). Inspiring Peak Performa nce: Competence, Commitment, and Collaboration. Lake Forest, IL: New Horizons. Reprinted with permission. Appendix B, “Taking a Closer Look at an Infant or Toddler’s Daily Schedule” from McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership, National Louis University (mccormickcenter Reprinted with permission. Printed in Canada 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Curtis, Deb.   Designs for living and learning : transforming early childhood environments / Deb Curtis and Margie Carter. — Second Edition.        pages cm   Includes bibliographical references.   isbn 978-1-60554-372-7 (paperback : acid-free paper)   isbn 978-1-60554-373-4 (e-book) 1.  Education, Preschool—United States—Planning. 2.  Child care—United States— Planning. 3.  Classroom environment—United States. I. Carter, Margie, 1942- II. Title.   lb1140.23.c87 2014   372.21—dc23                                                             2014021329 Printed on acid-free paper COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET For Anita Rui Olds 1940–1999 “Children are miracles. Believing that every child is a miracle can transform the way we design for children’s care. When we invite a miracle into our lives, we prepare ourselves and the environment around us. We may set out flowers or special offerings. We may cleanse ourselves, the space, or our thoughts of every- thing but the love inside us. We make it our job to create, with reverence and gratitude, a space that is worthy of a miracle! Action follows thought. We can choose to change. We can choose to design spaces for miracles, not minimums.” Anita Rui Olds, 1999 For Jim Greenman 1949–2009 “Perhaps if we thought more about childhoods and less about needs, some of our programs would look less like schools and more like homes and chil- dren’s museums, or like fields and parks. We might develop varied places with a genuine sense of place—of beauty, variety, and elements of surprise and mys- tery; places where adults and children delight at times in simply being together, messing about, and working at the tasks that daily living requires.” Jim Greenman, 1999 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Kawartha Child Care Services, Peterborough, ON, Canada COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Contents Acknowledgments xi Introduction 1 Chapter 1 Lay a Foundation for Living and Learning  17 Chapter 2 Think beyond a Traditional Classroom  35 Chapter 3 Create Connections, a Sense of Place and Belonging  59 Chapter 4 Keep Space Flexible and Materials Open-Ended  89 Chapter 5 Design Natural Environments That Engage Our Senses  127 Chapter 6 Provoke Wonder, Curiosity, and Intellectual Challenge  153 Chapter 7 Engage Children in Symbolic Representations, Literacy, and the Visual Arts  189 Chapter 8 Enhance Children’s Use of the Environment  217 Chapter 9 Launch the Process of Transforming an Environment  235 Chapter 10 Face Barriers and Negotiate Quality Standards  265 Chapter 11 Seek Children’s Ideas about Environments  295 Afterword 321 Notes 322 Appendix A Tools for Assessing Your Environment  323 Appendix B Tools to Reflect on Quality Rating Scale Components  333 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Inspire New Zealand Study Tour, Auckland, New Zealand COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Acknowledgments As authors, we’ve been so encouraged to see the response to the first edi- tion of this book over the last decade. Educators around the globe have sent us examples of how they have translated the principles we offered into their own early childhood environments. College instructors began to use Designs for Living and Learning as a textbook, and this sparked new think- ing and innovation. We had the good fortune to travel across the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to visit and, in many cases, revisit a variety of programs and see firsthand how they’ve been diligently working to create spaces for childhood and resist standardization. We ex- tend our heartfelt appreciation to all of you who’ve taken up this challenge. As we began work on this second edition, we put out a call for con- tributions, particularly in the areas we wanted to offer more examples to inspire others. The response to this call was overwhelmingly generous. We heard from scores of early educators, both familiar and unfamiliar to us, and though we weren’t able to use all that was sent to us, we were quite heartened by all the wonderful examples of environments that children are spending their days in. We were pleased, too, with the stories of those who are trying to insert a reflective aspect in their work with rating scales and Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS). All of the photos in this book were gathered by us or our colleagues in the field, not by professional photographers. Each comes from everyday work of living and learning with children in an early childhood program. Our special appreciation goes out to the following people who signifi- cantly supported our efforts to create this book. The inspiring educators in Aotearoa New Zealand have significantly contributed to our thinking with their exemplary indoor/outdoor environments for their youngest citizens. Year after year they not only warmheartedly welcomed Margie to bring North American educators on study tours of their programs, but graciously allowed us to use photos and stories from their programs. We extend deep appreciation to Chris Bayes, Diocesan School for Girls, Auckland, New Zealand; Lorraine Manuela, Tots Corner, Auckland, New Zealand; Julienne Exton and Brigette Towle, Kids’ Domain Early Learning Centre, Auckland, New Zealand; Therese Visser, Browns Bay Pre-School, Auckland, New Zealand; Karen Liley, Te Puna Kōhungahunga, Auckland, New Zealand; Thelma Chapman and Susan Winiata, Awhi Whanau Early Childhood Centre, Auckland, New Zealand; Jenny Jones and Adrienne COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL   xi DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Thomson, Magic Garden Care and Education Centre, Auckland, New Zealand; Adrienne Wilkens, Sophia’s Preschool, Oakura, New Zealand; Bronwyn Glass, Botany Downs Kindergarten, Auckland, New Zealand; and Heather Durham, Helensville Montessori, Helensville, New Zealand. Thanks to Andy Dean, Herb Foley, Raymond Dixon, and Barbara Ormond for allowing us to photograph the beautiful mural created by children on the University of Auckland campus. Across the “ditch” in Australia, Fran Bastion and Casula Pre-School, Liverpool City Council Early Childhood Program, Liverpool, Australia, offered us great examples for the first edi- tion of this book and rallied contributions for this edition as well. We are grateful to our colleagues across Canada who also provided numerous examples of wonderful environments for young children. Our Harvest Resources Associates; Lorrie Baird, Kawartha Child Care Services, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada; and Anne Marie Coughlin, London Bridge Child Care Services, London, Ontario, Canada, have worked with scores of educators in their own organizations and throughout Canada to inspire them to rethink the kind of environments young children deserve. We appreciate the contributions of Angela Woodburn, Lindsay Sparkes, and Andrea Dewhurst, London Bridge Child Care Services; Lorrie Baird and the educators of Kawartha Child Care Services; Melanie Bacon, Kerrie Isaac, Shauna Coons, and Nicole Ferguson, Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST) Child Development Center, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Melissa Gogolinski, Isabel F. Cox School, Redcliff, Alberta, Canada; Susan Stacey, Junior Primary Programme at Halifax Grammar School, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; Darlene Nantarath and Tammy Nucci, Ashton Meadows Child Care, Markham, Ontario, Canada; Tami Brandrick and Lori O’Leary, Saskatoon Early Childhood Education Demonstration Centre, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada; and Elizabeth Hicks, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Donna King is a remarkable teacher and designer of children’s environ- ments and someday should have her own book focused on the stunning work done at Children First in Durham, North Carolina. In the meanwhile, she has significantly enriched both the first and second edition of Designs for Living and Learning with all her contributions. Working for many years with the centers who are part of United Way Bright Beginnings in Houston, Texas, we’ve seen a remarkable transformation in their environments and want to extend special recognition to Marcela Clark, Shannon McClellan, Sanjuana Frank, Kassondra Brown, Fran Brockington, and the United Way Bright Beginnings, Houston, center directors who have helped to make contributions to this book: Mitzi Bartlet, House of Tiny Treasures; Noemi Ocampo, Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans; Leslie Jeter, Destiny Village Child Care; Francine Robinson, Waltrip High School xii  [   Acknowledg ments COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Child Development Center; Sharon Walker, The Bridge Over Troubled Waters; and Toni Livingston, Chinese Community Center. In recent years Deb has appreciated the opportunity to work with administrators, teachers, and family providers associated with Preschool for All, First 5, San Francisco, California, and extends particular apprecia- tion to the following people who made contributions to this book: Belann Giaretto, Nadia Jaboneta, and Brian Silveira, Pacific Primary Pre-School, San Francisco, California; Barbara Manzanares, Child’s Play Family Childcare, San Francisco, California; Teresa Carias, Good Samaritan Family Resource Center, San Francisco, California; and Julie Fellom, Neighborhood Playgarden, San Francisco, California. We also thank other California colleagues: Kim Nave and Paula Fitch, The Learning Center, Palo Alto, California; Sue Britton and Eric Hart, Step One School, Berkeley, California; Arlae Alston, Baskin 1 Early Head Start, Santa Cruz, California; Mark Whitney, MiraCosta College, Oceanside, California; Mary Ashley, Lisa Meyers, and Lisa Curiel, Mission College Child Development Center, Santa Clara, California; Brenda Favish, Bill and Sid Rubin Preschool at Congregation Beth Israel, San Diego, California; Jo Lee, Mills College Children’s School, Oakland, California; Sadie Parrinello and Robin Jurs, Ventana School, Los Altos, California; Jayanti Tambe, Pacific Oaks Children’s School, Pasadena, California; Nancy Brown and Janis Keyser. For their contributions to the first edition that we carried over to this new one, we again thank Alise Shaffer at Evergreen Community School, Santa Monica, California, and Becky Candra, formerly at La Jolla United Methodist Church Nursery School, La Jolla, California. Despite her extensive travel work, Margie has maintained a strong relationship with some centers close to home in Seattle. Hilltop Children’s Center in Seattle, Washington, has made her feel like extended family; and in addition to the carryover contributions of Ann Pelo and Sarah Felstiner from the first edition, she extends appreciation to Cassie Tondreau, Joel Metschkel, Sandra Clark, and Liddy Wendell for new contributions. Special thanks to Luz Casio, Karina Rojas, and Elidia Sangerman, who always wel- come Margie to engage with their work at the Southwest Early Learning Center, Sound Child Care Solutions (SCCS) Seattle, Washington, and the Refugee and Immigrant Family Center (RIF), SCCS, Seattle, Washington. Thanks go to several other Seattle SCCS center staff as well: Megan Arnim, Joyce Jackson, Jill Kennedy, Sandra Floyd, Melody Dayton, and Julie Bisson at Epiphany Early Learning Preschool, SCCS; Naomi Peterson at Pinehurst Child Care Center; Gloria Hodges at Little Eagles Child Development Center, SCCS; and Lisa Meier at Interlaken Preschool, SCCS. Hap Hanchett’s design work on SCCS centers has helped us illuminate some of the principles we have included in this book. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Acknowledg ments   ]   xiii DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Over the years, we have followed the transformations at the Chicago Commons Child Development Center (Head Start) in Chicago, Illinois, which has refused to let a bureaucratic mentality or an overwhelming body of regulations and requirements get in their way of creating excep- tional environments that value children and families. Special thanks to Janice Woods, Kevin Durney, Jesus Oviedo, and staff at their Chicago Commons Child Development Program (Head Start) centers: Paulo Freire Family Center, Nia Family Center, Guadalupano Family Center, and Taylor Center for New Experiences. And to Karen Haigh and Peg Callaghan, who initially brought us to Chicago Commons Child Development Center (Head Start) to see their remarkable work. While we weren’t able to use all the examples they sent us, we are grateful to the following educators for showing us some lovely examples of their work: Dee Ann Perea, Children’s Studio, Bellevue, Washington; Lisa Warner, Laura Edwards, Kathy Dutton, and Kelly Gant, Second Presbyterian Weekday School, Louisville, Kentucky; Laurie Cornelius and Terry Haye, Clark College Early Learning Center, Vancouver, Washington; Nancy Gerber, Little Peoples’ Family Child Care, Spokane, Washington; Melanie Castillo and Sabrina Ball, Pinnacle Presbyterian Preschool, Scottsdale, Arizona; and Alison Maher and Ellen Hall, Boulder Journey School, Boulder, Colorado. Some programs featured in this book are new to us and we haven’t visited, but we appreciate the examples we’ve seen from the following people: Vicky Flessner, Highland Plaza United Methodist Preschool, Hixson, Tennessee; Rukia Monique Rogers, The Highlander School, Atlanta, Georgia; and Shanna Kincheloe, Micky Morton, and Nikki Dolan, East Tennessee State University Little Buccaneers Laboratory Program, Johnson City, Tennessee. Thanks to Christie Colunga, Josh Trommier, and Felipe Gutierrez for their con- tributions from Paradise Valley Community College, Phoenix, Arizona. We extend our apologies to anyone we have unintentionally overlooked or incorrectly identified in the photo location credits. We have tried to keep good records, but it’s possible we lost something in the avalanche of examples sent our way. For helping us think through the challenging issues of working with rating scales, standards, and financing facility improvements, we extend appreciation to Lisa Lee, Kelly Mathews, Ann Hentschel, Paula Jorde Bloom, and Carol Sussman. Ann was enormously important as a critical friend helping to clarify some confusion we had with environment rating scales (ERS) and QRIS systems. We thank Beth Wallace for the photo of Anita Rui Olds; and Carol White, Bonnie Neugebauer, Emma Greenman, and Jane Lurie for helping xiv  [   Acknowledg ments COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET us track down a photo that captures the spirit of Jim Greenman. We extend appreciation to Jeanne Hunt for her wonderful photographs of centers in Aotearoa New Zealand, especially the one she captured for the cover of this second edition. We also offer deep gratitude to Sanjuana Frank and Elidia Sangerman for their ongoing translation of our work into Spanish. We enjoyed working with the team at Redleaf Press: Kyra Ostendorf, edi- tor; Jim Handrigan, creative director; Mari Kesselring, production editor; and David Heath, director. They are always open to our design ideas, even as they continue to teach us about the world of publishing. Lastly, for their valuable ideas and drawings about environments they especially like, we thank the children who made particular contributions to this book: Scarlet, Andrews, and Isabelle at Kids’ Domain Early Learning Centre, Auckland, New Zealand; Will, Gray, Nan, Ella, Amelia, Charlie, Luke, and Charles at Second Presbyterian Weekday School, Louisville, Kentucky; Grace and Hayden at Stoneybrook Early Childhood Learning Centre, London Bridge Child Care Services, London, Ontario, Canada; Genevive at Junior Primary Programme at Halifax Grammar School, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; Frankie, Ellis, Bram, Ryder, and Nora at Pacific Primary Pre-School, San Francisco, California; Eli at Clark College Early Learning Center, Vancouver, Washington; Daniel, Ella, and Yvonne at West Huron Early Childhood Learning Centre, London Bridge Child Care Services, Zurich, Ontario, Canada; Ben and Fredrick at Epiphany Early Learning Preschool, SCCS, Seattle, Washington; Everett, Justice, Lauren, Reyna, and Zella at Boulder Journey School, Boulder, Colorado; Makayla at Ashton Meadows Child Care, Markham, Ontario, Canada; and Audrey, Sela, and Lucia at Hilltop Children’s Center, Seattle, Washington. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Acknowledg ments   ]   xv DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Association for Advancement of Mexican Americans, United Way Bright Beginnings, Houston, TX COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Introduction In the first edition of this book we put forward a call to early childhood care and education folks to reclaim our profession’s roots, rethink what we want our programs to stand for, and transform program environments for young children. We believed then, and over a decade later continue to believe, that our profession is at a critical crossroads, with some continu- ing and some new challenges before us. If together we are willing to meet the challenge of taking charge of our future as a profession, we have a rich history to draw on and some new pioneers to inspire us. The alternative is for children to spend the early years of their childhoods in cookie-cutter, sterilized, commercialized settings. The choice before us is one of enrich- ing or diminishing our human potential. Over the past forty years, the early childhood field has formed stan- dards to help educators and families recognize quality programs for chil- dren. For instance, mention the topic of environments and most educators have images of familiar room arrangements with the same type of learning areas and materials—easy to spot when you peek into almost any accred- ited child care, preschool, or Head Start classroom. Early childhood educa- tors have established professional standards that stress the importance of an orderly, safe environment; learning areas; and materials that are cultur- ally and developmentally appropriate. Our profession has developed rating scales and assessment tools to keep us reaching for higher quality. Most states now have implemented Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) with Environment Rating Scales (ERS). Researchers and policy makers now recognize early childhood as a key time of life for young learners, and our government and private foundations are pronouncing early education as a priority. The tireless (or should we say tiring?) advo- cacy work of so many early childhood professionals is paying off, and we all have much to celebrate and be proud of. However, inherent in most good things are the seeds of their opposites. In many cases, those who have little direct experience with teaching young children are shaping the new government emphasis on the importance of early childhood, and their emphasis is on preparing children as future citizens, rather than seeing them as today’s citizens. Standards and policies are often developed with a tenor of mistrust of the actual teachers and a presumption that outside experts know what is best. This concern under- lies the development of the book you are holding. With the first edition of COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 1 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Children First, Durham, NC 2  [   Introduc tion Designs for Living and Learning, we were seeing homogenization and insti- tutionalization everywhere in early childhood programs with commercial, if not political, interests beginning to shape early childhood settings. The tenor of this standardization of environments has somewhat shifted over the last decade, with more attention to connecting children to nature and more use of research on the importance of lighting, air quality, and the impact of color on behavior. Though early childhood catalogs and conference exhibit hall vendors still feature an abundance of plastic, artificial, and prefabricated mate- rials, they have started to include materials with more neutral colors and natural fibers. This doesn’t diminish the danger of standardization, however, because programs typically fill their rooms with catalog furnishings. The rooms still all look the same, with no clear identity of the community the program is a part of. Busy administrators fall prey to “one-stop shopping” for their programs, eager to earn high ratings in their QRIS to secure new funding. Traveling across the United States, we’ve discovered that even beautiful environments with top scores on rating scales can easily lack an identity and feel soulless. When programs rely only on commercial vendors and think only in terms of compliance with regulations, they typically forget to define the core values they need to guide their selection of materials or to help plan their environment. They fail to develop a unique identity and begin to look like an early childhood catalog, not a particular community in a particu- lar place. Thus, though lip service is given to early childhood programs as being a home away from home and the term “developmentally appro- priate” is widely used in the current climate of assessment and academic benchmarks for school readiness, too many programs continue to feel like schools or standardized institutions. True, most programs don’t have chil- dren sitting at little desks, but they do regulate children’s time and routines, remind children of the rules, and surround them with uniform learning materials. Early childhood programs may not implement ringing bells or have long hallways to walk down, but too many of them are organized around schedules, standards, checklists, and assessment tools. Outside of the United States we have seen a more expansive vision for childhood represented in early education programs. But within the United States, a more enriched vision is normally only found in isolated little pockets of alternative and independent programs—programs not typi- cally intended to remedy income and academic inequities with subsidized government funding. Of course, our field wants to close the so-called achievement gap. But with this goal, programs need to continually ask COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET which children and families are privileged with a positive view of who they are and thus offered more expansive possibilities, and which children and families are continually viewed as deficient, “not able” and not deserv- ing of time to play and experience the joy, rather than the stress, of learn- ing. Addressing that inequity has great potential to erase the inequities in school achievement. Finding Inspiration from Early Pioneers well do our history , How and philosophical you know and political field’s influences as that a profession: shaped the it? In theories have studying the forebears (John Dewey, Friedrich Froebel, Maria Montessori, Caroline Pratt, Patty Smith Hill, Rudolf Steiner, and others) who laid the foundation for early care and education program environments in the United States, we find important concepts that are seldom referred to by today’s practitioners outside of specialized child development circles. Perhaps this is because teacher education hasn’t included this history or much about philosophy and theory. Despite any limitations in their think- ing, there is much to learn from these pioneers. Postmodern thinkers and academics see the limitations and bias of the constructs that have shaped our US early childhood education practice. Overall, US constructs of “best practice” have focused more on individual developmental theories and less on sociocultural ones. Legitimate criticism has been leveled at some of these early thinkers—for instance, Jean Piaget—because each of them came out of a particular historical context and cultural setting with inter- nal contradictions that suggest their ideas might be less relevant or unsuit- able for today’s world. Designs for Living and Learning doesn’t advocate any strict philosophical stance or endorse a single theoretician; as authors, we acknowledge an eclectic set of influences. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, several important educators began challenging the notion of sterile, passive classroom environments and launched a movement for children to have hands-on learning materi- als and experiences. German educator Friedrich Froebel, referred to as “the father of kindergarten,” launched a far-reaching revolution in early child- hood education by offering physical objects to children as the basis of their learning. He designed blocks and other playthings to be a series of “gifts and occupations” that are part of a systematic method for teaching chil- dren through manipulatives. We agree with the criticism that his approach was too structured and limited children’s self-initiated engagement. However, the important idea of offering children aesthetically pleasing manipulative materials as “invitations to learning” has its roots in Froebel’s COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduc tion   ]   3 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET idea of presenting learning materials as gifts. Maria Montessori, Patty Smith Hill, and Caroline Pratt were critics of Froebel, but they certainly built on his ideas, as today’s educators have built on theirs. Our profes- sion has Montessori to thank for the concept of child-size furnishings and materials arranged with attention to order, aesthetics, and sensory explora- tion. Hill’s recognition of children’s need for big-body activity and social experiences led to the creation of larger wooden blocks for their play, a staple of any early childhood program. Pratt further extended the idea of block play by developing sets of unit blocks with accompanying props. She suggested supplying children with an abundance of basic, open-ended materials and ample space to independently and cooperatively explore and create with them. Our profession is indebted to the early schools and practitioners who first popularized these ideas, notably Harriet Merrill Johnson and Lucy Sprague Mitchell, City and Country School and Bank Street School for Children, both in New York City. John Dewey’s concept of education for democracy is one that influences our thinking as authors and, indeed, Loris Malaguzzi and the early educators of Reggio Emilia Italy studied his ideas and built on them. People familiar with the Waldorf schools founded by Rudolf Steiner may also see shades of that influence in Designs for Living and Learning. Steiner’s general philosophical positions are open to question, but we concur with his idea that education should give children regular experiences with natural materials and the rhythms of the seasons. Waldorf schools have a strong emphasis on the arts, imagination, creativity, and moral well-being. Though Steiner lived a century ago, we concur with his critique of setting up schools to meet economic needs rather than the needs of children. Learning from Contemporary Pioneers , As in graduate 1980s, students we were at Pacific Oaks to be College mentored in Pasadena, Elizabeth California, the fortunate by Prescott and Elizabeth Jones, who pioneered early thinking about creating homelike settings for full-time child care programs. Early on, we made use of the critical components they outlined for program settings, and we are indebted to their ideas about environments, materials, and the importance of observing children’s play for our own learning. Their contributions have influenced wide sectors of the early childhood field with respect to the 4  [   Introduc tion COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET importance of creating environments that engage children in complex play that leads to deeper learning for both the children and teachers. Two other significant players and organizations in the adoption of child-centered environments and materials in early childhood pro- grams are Diane Trister Dodge and her Creative Curriculum associ- ates at Teaching Strategies and David Weikart and his colleagues at the HighScope Foundation. In her early years of becoming a teacher educa- tor, Margie became a HighScope trainer. In the process, she learned a great deal about active learning for adults and the potential for children and adults to reflect on their work together. Over the years, both of us as authors have appreciated the dialogue and collegial relationship we have had with Dodge. While Teaching Strategies and HighScope each have different curriculum elements and emphases, both approach children as active, hands-on learners who benefit from an attractive, orderly room arrangement with an array of materials to select from and use in open- ended ways. Because of the widespread work of Dodge, Weikart, and their associates, the early childhood field has moved away from a more scat- tered, informal “toy box” approach to classrooms with designated interest areas or learning centers, each stocked with well-organized materials in labeled baskets on shelves. Long before we heard the Italians of the schools of Reggio Emilia refer to “the environment as the third teacher,” Dodge and Weikart had set up training programs and demonstration classrooms to show teachers how to design environments with the potential to engage children in self-initiated play. While we are not without concern about the standardization that has resulted in the rigid adoption of their curricu- lums, we recognize their initial work helped to make environments and routines more child-centered than adult-centered, with a strong emphasis on developmentally appropriate practices. When we read Alerta: A Multicultural, Bilingual Approach to Teaching Young Children by Leslie R. Williams and Yvonne De Gaetano in 1984, we learned how to move away from a superficial multicultural approach and toward cultural relevancy in setting up environments for children. In Alerta, the authors emphasize the need to reflect the lives and communi- ties of the children and families in teaching environments, which pushed us to develop concrete strategies to that end. Other pioneers who stressed the importance of cultural relevancy in the social-emotional environment include Carol Brunson Day, Louise Derman-Sparks, Janet Gonzalez-Mena, Janice Hale, Lily Wong Fillmore, and Gloria Ladson-Billings. J. Ronald Lally and his colleagues at WestEd Program for Infant/Toddler Care (PITC) have been vital champions of the important idea that working with infants and toddlers involves more than caregiving; it is a place where identities are being shaped. In our own city of Seattle, Sharon Cronin and COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduc tion  ]   5 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET University of Auckland, Epsom Campus, Auckland, New Zealand Carmen Sosa Massó have developed useful approaches to creating dual language, bicultural environments, routines, and programming. Their pub- lication Soy Bilingue: Language, Culture, and Young Latino Children and ongoing teacher education work have launched an education thrust that extends beyond the Latino community, calling for cultural and linguistic democracy as a goal for education. The influence all these remarkable war- riors have had on our work is deep and lasting. Though we never met her, Anita Rui Olds is one of the strongest con- temporary influences on the program environments that inspire us today. Trained as a social psychologist and self-taught in architecture and interior design, Olds taught others how to create environments for children that comfort, heal, and inspire them. For a number of years, she conducted classes and seminars that provided adults with the experiential evidence and practical guidelines to create spaces that draw the most power out of children. That has been the approach of our teacher education work from the start. Olds urged our profession to reconsider design elements often deemed luxuries and claim them as necessities. We are indebted to her fierceness in reminding us that we should be creating sacred spaces for children and planning for miracles, not minimums. Olds has laid the tracks for many future pioneers, and her Child Care Design Guide is an invalu- able resource for architects and designers of purpose-built early childhood facilities. Carl Sussman and his associates in the Boston area have carried 6  [   Introduc tion COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET into practice Olds’s early emphasis on child-specific environments. They have gotten significant traction advocating for investment in purpose-built early childhood facilities as a quality improvement strategy for the public and community investment agenda in the state of Massachusetts. This work is a model we should all be attentive to and learn from. Jim Greenman was the first colleague we encountered who consis- tently used the term “places for childhood” as a mandate for early learning environments. His initial book, Caring Spaces, Learning Places, is an exem- plary resource in both conceptual and practical terms. Before we wrote the first edition of Designs for Living and Learning, Greenman’s book was the primary reference point for the college courses we taught and the consult- ing we did. His handbook for infant and toddler programming, Prime Times, now in its second edition and coauthored with Anne Stonehouse and Gigi Schweikert, will also continue to have a long-lasting impact. Greenman was involved in the design of many fine early childhood build- ings and playgrounds. The schools and educators of Reggio Emilia have had a profound influence on us as authors and across our wider profession, helping us rethink what we are doing for children. They have challenged us to reex- amine every inch of our environments for the messages being conveyed. By reminding us that it is not only the needs of children we should be considering, but the rights of children, these Italian educators have helped us transform our starting place when thinking about spaces for children. Their hard, hard work of building a dream out of the ashes of a war-torn country emerging from fascism should humble professionals in this country when we are tempted to offer excuses for our lack of will in fac- ing down budget and policy limitations or litigation-driven constraints. The pioneers of Reggio Emilia were sharp-sighted in understanding the real meaning of homeland security, and they pressed forward with a vision that has given early childhood educators around the world a living model to visit and learn from. Because of their generosity of time, spirit, and resources, many programs in North America and across the globe are redesigning their environments and programs with inspiration from Reggio Emilia. They, too, are modern-day pioneers, and visiting some of these programs has influenced our thinking and made contributions to examples offered in this book. Over the last decade, Margie has had the good fortune to make regu- lar visits to Aotearoa New Zealand to learn from their early and current- day pioneers and see the remarkable way their national early childhood system has embraced the idea of translating their bicultural aspirations into inspiring early childhood environments. While there is a national cur- riculum, Te Whāriki, in their country, this hasn’t resulted in standardized COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduc tion   ]   7 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET programs, but rather has engaged all educators in finding a strong identity for themselves and their centers. The tradition of the indigenous Maori people introducing themselves by their lineage, including their mountain and river, has deepened our understanding of the importance of creating a sense of place for children in our early childhood programs. Quietly, behind the scenes, in cities and conferences across the United States, Edgar Klugman, Walter F. Drew, and a cadre of “play caucus” profes- sionals and folks from educational repurposing centers have been provid- ing early childhood educators with firsthand experiences of the value of playing with open-ended, repurposed materials. They have touched thousands of teachers who have, in turn, changed their thinking and practice in providing beauti- ful, open-ended materials to children. (Plus, their repur- posing has been good for the planet.) You’ll see many examples of repurposing materials throughout the pages of this book. In the first edition of Designs for Living and Learning, we confessed that one of the major shortcomings in our own professional development was a lopsided focus on indoor environments. We are strong believers in the value of outdoor spaces for children and have made it a priority to learn more about creating them with as much thought as indoor spaces. We have been inspired by pro- grams that offer a deep connection to the natural world and offer multiple opportunities for active big-body play in their designs. These programs not only include aspects of adven- ture playgrounds outdoors, but they bring indoor activities outside with materials that allow for ongoing investigations, building, and collaborative play to take place in fresh air and under natural lighting. We’ve watched with delight the free flow of children between indoor and outdoor spaces in places such as Aotearoa New Zealand and California, and indeed, when Deb returned to work with toddlers in the rainy Pacific Northwest, she designed her program in this way. We strongly subscribe to the slogan of the Scandinavians, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad cloth- ing.” We find the forest school movement in Europe and countries beyond to be absolutely inspiring. While the primary emphasis in this book is on young children who are typically developing, we believe the ideas can be adapted for children with special needs, or rights, as Reggio Emilia educators remind us. Indeed, these designs bring out more competencies than we often give these chil- dren credit for. 8  [   Introduc tion COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Expanding Our Vision of What Is Possible the last , (and We a have few other spent countries) fifteen as authors, so or years college traveling the United speakers, States instructors, children’s teachers, and program consultants, sharing words and images of inspiration and experiential activities. We hope to convey our respect for children and our sense of gratitude and pride in our profession—we are indeed honored to do this work. In our travels we also convey strong words of caution and concern and a reminder that we must be ever vigi- lant as our profession continues to grow and be regulated. The emphasis on standards, assessments, and adopted curriculums is often overshadow- ing the children, families, and staff because there is a tendency to apply them narrowly without careful, innovative thinking. Too many programs have been developing what author and Harvard educator Tony Wagner calls “a culture of compliance” aimed at minimums, not dreams, for chil- dren and educators. Embracing the idea of the environment as a significant educator in early childhood programs requires expanding your thinking beyond the notion of room arrangements. You must ask yourself what values you want to communicate through learning environments and how you want children and their teachers to experience their time in your program. From the physical to the social and emotional environment, how are you demonstrating that you respect and treasure childhood and the identity of particular children and their families? Are you showing pride in your work and an ongoing commitment to developing yourself and your profession? Apart from the benchmarks of outside assessors, to what do you want to hold yourself accountable? We have received a strong, heartwarming response to the inspiring stories and photographs of environments featured in the first edition of this book. The response we got to our call for contributions to this second edition was enormously gratifying, reassuring us that early childhood educators are on the move to create wonderful environments in their pro- grams. We continue to encounter those who claim, “But we can’t do that . . . our space isn’t big enough . . . we don’t have the budget . . . our licensor won’t let us.” We remind the naysayers that some years ago, Deb decided to leave her college teaching career to try these design ideas working directly with children. She initially worked again with preschoolers for eight years, and then for the next five years she found a new love in working with toddlers. This very personal, as well as professional, journey, along with the inspiration of countless other educators we have encountered, has taught us many lessons. We’ve learned that with vision and determination, COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduc tion   ]   9 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Children First, Durham, NC you can make a way out of no way. Bigger ideas about quality are doable, and they don’t require an unreasonable amount of money. Taking time, working with extraordinary diligence, and seeing yourself as creative and resourceful can help you step beyond the barriers to creating great places for childhood. When Deb returned to redevelop herself as a practicing children’s teacher, Margie continued to work as a college instructor, consultant, and coach for early childhood programs. She discovered that as inspiring as our book Designs for Living and Learning might be, teachers and admin- istrators couldn’t get beyond adding a bit of window dressing unless they had a process for examining why they do what they do and for exploring the values they want reflected in their work. It became clear that it wasn’t just the physical environment and materials that needed reconfiguring in these programs—the daily routines, use of time, support structures, com- munications, and relationships all had to be rethought if the environment was to be effectively designed, cared for, and used. The social-emotional environment, what we think of as the classroom or program culture, is intricately related to what the Italian educators of Reggio Emilia call “the 10  [   Introduc tion COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET image” of the child, teacher, and parents together as part of the teaching and learning process. Though we don’t dwell on aspects of the social-emotional environment in this book, it is an implied foun- dation and became a significant focus for two of our other books, Learning Together with Young Children and The Visionary Director. Designs for Living and Learning is shaped by a particular set of values and beliefs we hold as early childhood professionals. It draws on the influences outlined above, the inventive and creative work of early childhood teachers and providers we have met and heard about, along with continual reflec- tions on our own work over the years. Values we hold for children include the following: • Children deserve to be surrounded with beauty, softness, and comfort, as well as order and attention to health and safety. • Childhood is a time of wonder and magic, where dreams and imagination get fueled and issues of power are explored. • In their early years, children need multiple ways to build a solid identity and connections with those around them—their families, peers, role models, culture and community, and the natural world. Hilltop Children's Center, Seattle, WA • Children bring a powerful drive to learn and understand what is around them. They learn best when offered interesting materials, ample time, and opportunity to investigate, transform, and invent—without the interruptions of a teacher’s schedule. • Children come to early childhood programs with ideas, experi- ences and skills that are “funds of knowledge” from their families and communities, which need to be acknowledged and drawn upon as teachers coach them into new learning. They have vivid imaginations and theories about the world, which need to be taken seriously and explored more fully. • Children have active bodies and a desire for adventure; they have the right to show adults how powerful and competent they are. • Children have a wide range of strong feelings; they deserve to ex- press their feelings and be respected. Their emotional intelligence is as important to cultivate as intelligence related to academic COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduc tion   ]   11 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Tots Corner, Auckland, New Zealand pursuits. And in fact, current interpretations of neuroscience for educational settings and the particular research we study in Alison Gopnik’s book The Philosophical Baby, and Antonio Damasio’s book The Feeling of What Happens, reminds us that emotional intelligence is part of a child’s rapid brain development and is es- sential to academic learning. When you hold these values for children, you shape their environ- ments with a different kind of intent than just planning learning centers or striving to be compliant for high scores on ERS. Holding these values for children means you consider aesthetic components that provoke a sense of wonder and delight. You’ll not only try to keep children safe, but you will put elements in the environment that encourage physical, social, and intel- lectual risk taking so children experience the joy and power of learning with others. Furnishings will go beyond standard early childhood tables, chairs, and shelving to include home furnishings and aspects of the chil- dren’s families, culture, and the wider community and elements of nature that are around them. Your environment will reflect the unique identity of your history, who you are, and who you are striving to be. 12  [   Introduc tion COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET We titled this book Designs for Living and Learning because we believe it is a mistake to make artificial distinctions between how young children live, play, relate, and learn. Their bodies, minds, emotions, and spirits come to your program as a package all wrapped up in an ever-accumulating set of experiences, relationships, and connections that shape learning. You must act with intention to make your beliefs about the value of children, childhood, family, community, and the learning and teaching process vis- ible in the environments you create for children. Navigating Your Way through This Book Designs and Learning, take , In deeper into for our Living understandings and we wider early into childhood for educators our dreams children’s lives and communities. Our hope is to inspire an examination of the values you use to influence your work as a caregiver, educator, admin- istrator, or teacher educator. We want to nudge you into transforming your thinking and environments with a determination to move past barriers. We encourage you to draw on your own sense of design, comfort, and aes- thetics as you work with the principles and elements we offer. Take time to explore unusual materials to discover their potential and offer them with intention and curiosity to children. Turn this work into ongoing teacher research. We suspect you will be drawn to the beautiful photographs through- out the book before reading any of the text. As you look at the photos, be aware that they can be studied further as representations of particular ideas discussed. In the first chapter, we offer an overview of the elements we feel are important to include in early care and learning environments and lay the foundation for the chapters to come. For this reason, it is worth reading first. You will find some initial snapshots to whet your appetite for discovering how these elements might look in a program. This chapter opens with an assessment tool we have created to help you look closely at how you are currently working with these elements. If you follow the guidelines of drawing a floor plan of your particular space and then cod- ing it as directed, you will discover where you might need some fresh ideas and how you can turn to children to help you assess how your environ- ment is experienced by them. The remaining chapters each focus on one of the elements introduced in chapter 1. Each chapter opens with “Look Inside,” a short activity for self-reflection on the topic at hand. We then offer thoughts and examples of how the larger environmental features might reflect the elements under consideration. These “macro” ideas are always under the heading “Invite COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduc tion  ]   13 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Living” and are further illustrated with photos in the “Inventors at Work” section of the chapter. Under the heading “Invite Learning” in each chapter, we consider the “micro” environment of a program with examples of interesting materi- als for children and a discussion of how their presentation is designed to invite discovery and investigation. Photographs serve as examples of how children have used these materials in different settings. At the end of each chapter you are asked to consider possible environmental arrangements and inventions of your own. If you make your way sequentially through the chapters focus- ing on each of the different elements, you will arrive at chapter 8, where we suggest some important ways you can enhance children’s use of the Kawartha Child Care Services, Peterborough, ON, Canada 14  [   Introduc tion COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET physical environment. You will find an overview of considerations for the social-emotional environment you create to support children’s ability to work collaboratively and develop a focus and intention in their use of the environment. There are ideas about organizing time and routines, help- ing children discover and use materials, providing meaningful jobs, and choosing different teacher roles for yourself. In this second edition, we include a new chapter 9 with ideas on the process of transforming your environment, offering a protocol with exam- ples of what some programs have done. Chapter 10 provides thoughts for overcoming barriers you may face, interlaced with specific stories about successful negotiations among teachers, directors, licensors, and quality rating monitors. These should refresh your determination to push for the transformations you want to make. Chapter 11 concludes the book, but it could potentially have been the starting place. It challenges us to increas- ingly consider children’s rights, and—specific to their environments—to find ways of seeking and using their ideas for planning, assessing, and changing. This is the ultimate way we can show them respect and give them power as citizens. In the afterword, we offer a final idea about using Designs for Living and Learning with children themselves. In the appendixes on the final pages, you will find assessment and reflective tools we’ve mentioned in the text to prompt more consideration of your environment. These are offered in Spanish and English with the hope that they will be more widely used. As you move through Designs for Living and Learning, remember that it is in no way intended to be comprehensive or fully inclusive of all the considerations for creating early care and learning environments. Rather, our intent is to give you a set of values and elements to consider and a taste of how these have been translated into various settings. The examples here are from programs of many sizes and configurations, some fairly well resourced, but the majority operating with very limited budgets. Our guess is that you are looking for ideas to further your own journey of living and learning with children. Our hope is that these pages will provide you with plenty to consider and the inspiration to make your own transformations. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduc tion   ]   15 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Kids’ Domain Early Learning Centre, Auckland, New Zealand COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL • • DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET chapter 1 Lay a Foundation for Living and Learning Ass essing Your Env ironment As you consider transforming your early childhood environment, start with an assessment of the way your space is designed now. First draw a simple floor plan of the room you are currently working in, one you are quite familiar with, or one you imagine using in a new job. As you sketch out the arrangements of the room, don’t include a lot of detail. Provide just enough information to help you use the assessment that follows. You might want to read through the assessment first so you have a sense of the amount of detail that would be helpful. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 17 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET The early childhood profession has developed many use- ful assessment tools and rating scales for programs to use in improving quality. However, the one you will use here is unlike the others. Instead of evaluating your space from a set of standards, regulations, or curriculum models, we will help you reconsider your environment from a child’s point of view. The elements used in this assessment form the framework of a child-friendly space for living and learning; they are discussed at greater length in the rest of this book. The components listed below are geared toward preschool or school- age children. The assessment is included in appendix A for photocopying and is available to download on the Designs for Living and Learning page at Appendix A and the Redleaf Press website also includes one assessment to evaluate your site for family-friendly environ- ments, another for infant and toddler caregivers, and a third to assess the caregivers’ and teachers’ work environment. All of these resources are also available in Spanish in appendix B and on the Redleaf Press website. ] Assessing From the Child’s Perspective   Put yourself in the shoes of the young children who spend their days in your space. Consider the statements below from a child’s perspective, and use them to assess your space. Write the number of each statement in all of the places on your floor plan where you are confident the statement is true: 1 = I can see who I am and what I like to do at school and at home. 2 = I see places that are comfortable for my tired mommy, daddy, grandma, or auntie to sit and talk with me or my teacher. 3 = The natural world can be found here (such as objects from nature, animals, or living specimens). 4 = There is something sparkly, shadowy, or wondrous and magical here. 5 = My teacher leaves a special object out here every day so I can use it many times and to try to figure out more about its properties and how it works. 6 = There are materials here that I can use to make representations of what I understand or imagine. 7 = I can feel powerful and be physically active here. 8 = I can learn to see things from different perspectives here, literally and through assuming roles in dramatic play. 18  [   Chapter 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 9 = There is a cozy place here where I can get away from the group and be by myself. 10 = I see my name written, or I get to regularly write my name here. 11 = I get to know my teachers here—what they like, how they spend their time away from school, and which people and things are spe- cial to them. Now examine your coded floor plan. Did you have trouble finding any of these components in your room? If so, you will probably find new ways to think about transforming your environment in this book. Environments Reflect Values and Shape Identity People spend human- , environments in the of United kind States or another. most Some of of their these time are in carefully de- made one signed, while others appear to have been haphazardly put together. Spaces are typically created with some kind of purpose or intention, whether or not this is evident. Every environment implies a set of values or beliefs about the people who use a space and the activities that take place there. For example, having individual desks rather than grouping children at tables suggests that the teacher believes children learn best in isolation from one another and values individual work over group activities. Thoughtfully planned or not, each environment also influences the people who use it in subtle or dramatic ways. People also have different preferences for the environment they feel most comfortable in at any given time. Depending on individual dispositions, experiences, cultural lenses, or needs of the moment, people may prefer to be alone or in the company of others, quiet or actively engaged, in bright or filtered light, or in an urban or wilderness setting. An environment may temporarily overstimulate or bore, calm or agitate those in it. Spending an extended period of one’s life in an environment deemed unpleasant will eventually exact a toll. Because of this, a number of professional fields focus on designing spaces, from architecture to landscaping to lighting and interior design, marketing, and human psychology. Children in the United States spend thousands of hours in early childhood programs. The early childhood profession now has assessment tools to define quality program environments. But most US programs have not drawn wisdom from those outside our profession who special- ize in designing spaces. Our early childhood program spaces aren’t typi- cally put together with conscious, sustained attention to the values they L ay a Foundation for Liv ing and L ear ning   COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL ]   19 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET communicate or the effect they have on the children and adults who spend their days in them. Perhaps this omission accounts for the awe that engulfs most visitors to the Italian schools of Reggio Emilia where the programs are housed in aesthetically gorgeous spaces that most early childhood teachers and administrators from anywhere in the world would love to live or work in. At the same time, Reggio Emilia environments deliberately reflect the community’s values and beliefs about children, families, teach- ers, and the social construction of knowledge. Here’s how Lella Gandini (2002), author and Reggio Children liaison, summarizes their intentions in designing spaces. The environment is the most visible aspect of the work done in the schools by all the protagonists. It conveys the message that this is a place where adults have thought about the quality and the instructive power of space. The layout of the physical space is welcoming and fosters encoun- ters, communication, and relationships. The arrangement of structures, objects, and activities encourages choices, problem solving, and discover- ies in the process of learning. There is attention to detail everywhere—in the color of the walls, the shape of the furniture, the arrangement of simple objects on shelves and tables. While Designs for Living and Learning is not about the Reggio approach, Gandini’s description of “attention to detail everywhere” is what we hope to provoke with this book. From our experience, when educators recognize that the spaces they design for children communicate a set of values, they begin to plan their environment differently. To do this, you won’t just decorate or equip your room from a catalog, but rather, consider what equipment will communicate values such as trust and respect for children. If you believe children benefit from solving problems and nego- tiating conflicts, you’ll provide ways for them to encounter those opportu- nities in the environment, perhaps by using benches at tables, rather than only chairs for individual seating. You’ll recognize that learning doesn’t just happen in designated areas with labels such as “Science Area” and “Writing Center,” so you will offer opportunities for children to explore like scientists and find the value of reading and writing throughout your indoor and outdoor spaces. Making use of research on how color, light, and air quality impact feelings, behaviors, and well-being, you’ll begin to reassign how you spend your limited budget for improving and maintain- ing your physical space. You’ll remember that while the cultural emphasis is on getting them ready for school, the children who spend the bulk of their early years in settings away from home still deserve to have a rich and joyful childhood. When you listen closely to the stories that adults tell of their favor- ite childhood memories, you get a picture of an environment in which 20  [   Chapter 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET children joyfully thrive. There are common themes in most of these memories: endless hours outdoors, fantasy play and inventions, raiding the refrigerator and cupboards when hungry, taking risks, and taking care of younger children. Sadly, too many early care and education programs don’t think of themselves as responsible for creating children’s favorite memo- ries. In fact, many children today are denied some of the most pleasurable memories of childhood because of thoughtlessness or rigid interpretations of standards and regulations. Our field must go beyond the idea of equat- ing quality to mean being compliant with regulations. We must recognize that the environments we create are shaping children’s memories and their identities about who they are in the world and what they deserve. The assessment tool at the beginning of this chapter uses common elements from countless stories of favorite childhood memories we solic- ited during trainings we have lead. From those stories we also identified elements that can be translated into principles to consider when planning your space: • Think beyond a traditional classroom. • Create connections, a sense of place and belonging. • Keep space flexible and materials open-ended. • Design natural environments that engage our senses. • Provoke wonder, curiosity, and intellectual challenge. • Engage children in symbolic representations, literacy, and the visual arts. • Enhance children’s use of the environment. • Launch the process of transforming an environment. • Face barriers and negotiate quality standards. • Seek children’s ideas about environments. Each of the above considerations holds opportunities for educators to rethink the design of early childhood environments. Imagine how things might be different if you used the idea of creating a strong identity for children to design your early childhood program. When your environ- ment engages children fully, you expand how you plan for physical, emo- tional, and cognitive learning. If the environment is designed to be another teacher in the program, then your work as a teacher is not only easier, but it engages more of your own creativity and learning. Embraced as a whole, this list of considerations expands understandings of how environments can be a powerful force in providing an enriched childhood that shapes children’s identities as eager learners and citizens. L ay a Foundation for Liv ing and L ear ning   COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL ]   21 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET This book is structured around these elements, with ideas about how to use them in the larger features and arrangements of your space, and also in the specific details of the learning materials and how they are offered. The following is a brief summary of how we see the foundational ele- ments that are required to go beyond standardized thinking about quality in designing an environment. In the coming pages, a chapter is devoted to each of these elements with further discussion and a range of specific visual examples to study. We use the word “study” here because the images go hand in hand with the text, illuminating each other with their prin- ciples and details. You can become a researcher of your own practice with these elements in mind. Think beyond a Traditional Classroom Early childhood programs can sometimes feel either sterile or cluttered and disorganized. Both possibilities have a negative impact on children. Using commercial catalogs to create classrooms filled with an assortment of bright primary colors and bulletin boards and walls crowded with cartoon alphabet images and look-alike art projects can easily trivialize what childhood is about and what children are capable of. For very young children our profession shouldn’t even be using the language of class- rooms. Jim Greenman suggests we find terms other than “classrooms”— terms such as “home bases” or “learning spaces”—to convey an image other than school for children’s early learning experiences. As they learn to stand, walk, run, and jump, children need spaces for active bodies, for Taylor Center for New Experiences, Chicago Commons Child Development Program (Head Start), Chicago, IL 22  [   Chapter 1 Working in the contexts of an urban center with a notable community history, along with Head Start regulations, this center meets their standards without looking at all like an institution. Here is the required housekeeping area, but it is stocked with familiar home furnishings, including china, glasses, cloth napkins, and living plants. Attention has been given to using various kinds of wood to unite the different elements of the space, making it aesthetically pleasing. All of the required materials to score well on a rating scale are part of this wider space, but none of it looks cluttered. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET discovering friendships, and for exploring the wonder of the world. They need opportunities to be trusted with real tools and breakable materi- als. Designing environments for living and learning with children has to take into account brain research and the role of aesthetics, lighting, color, and smells in helping children focus and enjoy learning about learning. Designers have to be thoughtful in planning storage and looking at hall- ways, bathrooms, and outdoor places so that none of them look institu- tional for the one childhood our youngest citizens are allowed. Create Connections, a Sense of Place and Belonging Have you noticed that the strongest drive underlying children’s daily expe- riences is the desire to have relationships with others and to be a member of a group? Because young children spend the majority of their waking hours away from their homes and families, they need us to help them maintain connections with their homes while they form new friendships and become part of a wider community. Our programs need to connect children to a sense of place in their community—the people, places, and natural world around them—and foster their growing identity. When your environment has a cozy, homelike feel that allows for and encourages strong connections among the people there, children will experience a sense of belonging and security. Throughout your building This early childhood classroom is designed to welcome not only the families whose children are enrolled, but those in the wider community its organization serves. Notice the objects and furniture that add beauty and softness, while plants and natural materials add interesting dimensions. The shelf and the basket filled with books invite adults to linger with their children, as do the tiered tables with things to explore. Photos of the children enrolled immediately create a sense of “who lives here,” as do the smaller, framed photos of them at work and the displays of their art on the wall. Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans, United Way Bright Beginnings, Houston, TX L ay a Foundation for Liv ing and L ear ning   COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL ]   23 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET you can create a sense of softness in your selection of color, furnishings, lighting, and materials. You can add specific features that represent the interests, families, and cultures of the children and staff. Indoors and out- doors, you can create places for people to comfortably gather, get to know each other, and find avenues for further connections. Guide your selection and placement of equipment and materials to ensure opportunities for people to collaborate and demonstrate what they know. Keep Space Flexible and Materials Open-Ended While it’s true that children need consistency and predictability, they also need program spaces designed with flexible options so that things can be moved and rearranged for specific purposes. Too often, once a room ar- rangement has been put into place, it rarely changes. Children are discour- aged from taking things from one area to another or playing with material in unexpected ways. Being discouraged not only limits children’s creativity, but it also limits the ever-deepening complexity they can benefit from in their play. Children come to early childhood programs with active bodies and imaginations. They are quick to use objects to represent things they are thinking about. Some spaces and materials will suggest dramatic themes that children are inherently eager to act out. Environments should provide opportunities for children to feel the power of their bodies and ideas. Creating multilevel spaces inside, as well as on the playground, gives children a number of ways to explore spatial relationships with their bod- ies. You may envision a loft as a place for quiet reading, but when children are higher than adults, they often want to exhibit how powerful they feel. Rather than subdue their bodies, we need to find ways to help children use them as a regular part of their learning. Here a collection of wood scraps, dowels, logs, driftwood, and old tile samples have been added to a block area with more traditional early childhood blocks. The children use these for building elaborate structures and creating games, and they take them to other parts of the room to become props for their play. courtesy of Janis Keyser, Mountain View, CA 24  [   Chapter 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET The guiding principle is to ensure that there are many ways for children and adults to use the space and materials. Your selections and arrangements should encourage children to pursue their interests and questions, represent what’s on their minds, and build strong relationships and a love of learning. Modular furniture that can be turned and stacked in multiple ways will give you more flexibility than when everything is designed for a single use. Offering open-ended materials in a variety of areas will spark children’s imaginations and speak to their desire to con- tinually rearrange and combine materials for exploration and inventions. Design Natural Environments That Engage Our Senses Do you remember delighting in the smells, sounds, and textures of the world around you when you were young? It is well known that children investigate the world and learn through their senses, and things such as playdough, paint, manipulatives, sensory tables, and music devices are standard fare in most programs for young children. But many more sensory-related features can be included in program environments, rang- ing from engaging textures to captivating aromas. Consider herbs, flowers, leaves, naturally scented candles or soap, shells, rocks, feathers, branches, and pieces of bark and wood. Filling your environment with aspects of the natural world can further soothe the senses and sensibilities of those present. When you contrast something as simple as a shelf of plastic baskets with a shelf containing nat- ural fiber baskets, the different sensory experience is immediately apparent. To surround children with elements of the natural world, this program has brought the outside inside and given the children a large window with a view of an inviting outdoors where careful attention to landscaping and gardening are part of the playscapes. In the sensory table, attention is given to inviting exploration with a variety of woven and wooden materials typically found in Asian cultures. There are textures and aromas to discover as the children pursue some of their typical play themes of filling and dumping, poking, and making imprints and designs. Children First, Durham, NC L ay a Foundation for Liv ing and L ear ning   COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL ]   25 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET There are many ways to incorporate plants, water, natural light, and fresh air into your building. Outside, the landscaping on your playground should get as much attention as the equipment and toys you place there. Provoke Wonder, Curiosity, and Intellectual Challenge Do you recall the thrill of discovering a rainbow you created while out- side playing with the garden hose? Or trying to find the source of a musi- cal sound that caught your attention when a light wind stirred the air? Children are intensely fascinated with the physical world and how it works. You can simultaneously honor childhood and promote a love of learning by adding a wide range of engaging attractions and discoveries to your environment. This is especially effective when you include materials that provoke a sense of mystery and wonder so children become curious and intellectually engaged with objects in the world and what can be learned by manipulating them. Examples include items that play with light and its relationship to color, or pieces that reflect, sparkle, spin, make sounds, and move or are otherwise transformed by moving air. You can use natural light, air, projectors, and other simple technology to build these features into your environment. Consider various ways to discover and explore the wonder of colors. Give children opportunities to dismantle and study the parts of bro- ken appliances and technology, help with bicycle repairs, and use real tools to build things they see in books, on the web, or have drawn themselves. Children also love finding treasures—shells, feathers, rocks, coins, keys, flashlights, baubles, and beads. Rotate a supply of these and other intrigu- ing objects in attractive baskets and boxes or as curiosities on a table or low shelf-top mirrors. Create nooks where you can place rocks that glitter or Cutting off the plugs and removing any dangerous components, this center regularly offers children a variety of old technology and appliances to explore and study. The children are taught safety guidelines and invited to share their discoveries and questions. Children’s Studio, Bellevue, WA 26  [   Chapter 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET shine, a set of costume jewelry gemstones, or holograms. Put books, cards, or photos nearby that relate to these objects to further stimulate children’s inquiry. Because childhood is a time when the world seems full of magic and wonder, you can keep those brain pathways growing and expanding by placing intriguing discoveries in your environment. Keep in mind that children need physical and intellectual engagement. Provide opportunities for them to use their bodies in safe but challenging ways. Engage Children in Symbolic Representations, Literacy, and the Visual Arts Early literacy has become a focus for most early care and education pro- grams, and it is typical to see a selection of books, computers, markers, paper, signs, and labels in designated areas. But children don’t just need a print-rich environment, they deserve multiple opportunities to witness and participate in the process of reading and writing, for pleasure as well Magic Garden Care and Education Centre, Auckland, New Zealand To expand their initial representational skills, this center has the children begin to draw their block structures, with a teacher coaching them to look closely at the details and start drawing one thing they see, then the next. Eventually the children learn to move around and draw how their structures look from different perspectives, including aerial views. The process of re- representing an idea from three-dimensional work with blocks to drawing on a flat paper not only presents children with cognitive challenges, thereby growing their brains, but also uses drawing as a pathway into the written word. L ay a Foundation for Liv ing and L ear ning   COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL ]   27 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET as for specific functions. Beyond the limited notions of reading and writ- ing materials for the classroom, you can consider a wide range of other materials including magazines and newspapers, charts, diagrams, and reference and instruction books. Use technology thoughtfully as a supple- ment for children’s research and reference work. And remember, early childhood environments should include materials that support children growing up in a multicultural, multilingual world. Literacy involves unlocking a system of symbols and codes, and there are many ways you can expand children’s experiences with this process. The wider world of symbolic representation extends into the visual arts. Adding a range of materials to explore the arts will encourage children to understand and express themselves using art materials, music, dance, and theatrical expressions. Early childhood environments should be stocked with materials and opportunities for what Howard Gardner calls “multiple intelligences,” or what the educators of the Reggio approach refer to as the “hundred languages.” Enhance Children’s Use of the Environment Designing an environment with interesting materials sets the stage for investigation, complex play, and joy in learning. You also have to con- sider your role in the environment. If children haven’t before experienced open-ended exploration of nontraditional materials or been trusted to work with adult tools or fragile objects, they will benefit from some initial encouragement, coaching, and side-by-side modeling of playing with the materials. Once the social-emotional culture of your room is established as one where children are able to engage fully with each other and the materials, your role as a teacher can shift. You begin the careful dance of allowing the children to play on their own, being present but minimizing intervention and talking only when needed. As you make this transition to a new role, find ways to meet up with the children’s minds and engage them in inquiry by asking questions you are genuinely curious about. You look for when to offer additional materials and when to do behind-the- scenes cleanup so that the children can stay focused and continue to invest in their play. 28  [   Chapter 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans, United Way Bright Beginnings, Houston, TX The caregivers in this baby room wanted to give children opportunities to explore paint and paper in a way that would allow for it to be a sensory experience with their bodies. They believe babies deserve this kind of investigation and creatively planned for it by stretching large sheets of butcher paper from the back of a shelving unit across the floor in front of the babies. Because these babies are just learning to sit and explore their mobility, the caregiver sits close by, not only to keep the babies safe and the rug safe from paint, but also to watch closely the details of the babies’ explorations and describe to them what they are doing. Do they seem to like the feel of the paint or be unsettled by it? Will they notice any change in the colors when they are combined? Will they show a preference for exploring with their hands or the brushes? Will they think the cup of paint is something to drink? These caregivers have used a number of strategies to enhance the children’s use of materials, including their placement of the paper and choice of paint and using their own reassuring presence to offer a helping hand and language with rich vocabulary describing what the babies are doing. L ay a Foundation for Liv ing and L ear ning   COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL ]   29 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Launch the Process of Transforming an Environment Whether inspired by this book, a study tour, rating scale, or images you’ve seen online, beginning to change your environment shouldn’t be about some decorating ideas or a quick fix. Be clear about the ideas, purpose, and values underpinning any changes you want to make. Significant transfor- mation requires observing and listening, and careful thinking and rethink- ing, ideally through a process that gathers the perspectives and investment of others. Whether you do this work in isolation as a staff member or with the support of an outside consultant or volunteer, it is important to work with clear values and priorities. We offer in this book a protocol for launching this transformation process and a set of examples from different settings. B e fo r e Refugee and Immigrant Family Center (RIF), Sound Child Care Solutions, Seattle, WA Af te r When this center came under new management, their first task was to begin to transform the classrooms. With support from a design consultation, a color pallet was chosen to soften the room and tie together different elements, such as the wall colors, bulletin boards, and rugs. Neutral wicker chairs were chosen, not only to replace the disarray of primary-colored plastic ones, but to reflect an aspect of furnishings found in many of the Asian countries their families come from. Added curtains, beads, and paper globe lights contribute to the new cozy, homelike feeling. Each of these new design elements were put into a book for the incoming teachers and families, helping them understand why these changes better serve the children. When the program’s budget got replenished, their next goal was to de-clutter and replace many of the learning materials on the shelves. 30  [   Chapter 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Face Barriers and Negotiate Quality Standards Some educators and administrators turn away from the ideas promoted in this book because they see more barriers than opportunities. With limited budgets, scores on assessments tied to funding, and periodic objections from regulators who think about risk as a danger rather than a benefit to children, it’s tempting to forgo any attempt to be innovative and just con- form to the standard way of doing things. We find that administrators and regulators alike sometimes feel disempowered. It’s helpful for them to hear the voices of those who are negotiating a bigger vision and offering leader- ship to consider other possibilities. Seek out people who are forging ahead, find ways to reflect on the intent of regulations and assessment tools, and go beyond compliance as a definition of providing quality. When this center initially built a loft to enhance the space in the classroom, licensors objected to the loft’s height, the wide spacing of the railing dowels, and the easy access to the ceiling tiles it gave children. Through a negotiation process of augmenting the railing design; adding fabric to the ceiling; repurposing the space as a quiet, alone area; and documenting children’s careful use of the loft, it has been allowed in the classroom. Each child who climbs the loft not only enjoys looking down on the room from on high, but also looking into the adjacent room through the window that was thoughtfully installed as part of the design so the children could feel connected to the classroom next door. Southwest Early Learning Center, Sound Child Care Solutions, Seattle, WA L ay a Foundation for Liv ing and L ear ning   COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL ]   31 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 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET C onsider Favor ite Childhood Memor ies of Your O w n As you consider the arrangements and materials in your program, spend time with staff as a group sharing stories of the things you loved playing with over and over again when you were children—it may be a commercial toy for one person, a found object for another. What kind of play brought you joy and helped you learn about yourself and the people and places around you? 1 What were the materials like that you most enjoyed playing with? Consider the sensory aspects, the textures, the way they moved, the sounds they made, and how they connected to other aspects of your life. 2 How did you discover these materials? Where were you? 3 Who was with you? Did the materials help build your friendship with any- one? 4 How did you use the materials? Did you take them apart or combine them, build with them, or act out dramas and adventures? 5 Why do you think these materials sustained your interest over time? As you reflect on your favorite childhood materials, you will probably discover that they relate to many of the values for children that are a focus of Designs for Living and Learning. As you continue reading, get ready for some wonderful ideas, both new and dusted off from an earlier time. We hope the photographs and ele- ments they represent will inspire you. Remember to steer yourself away from the temptation to respond with “yes, but . . . my space is so different . . . our licensor (or director) won’t let us do that . . . we don’t really have access to that kind of money or those resources . . .” Each of the photographs in this book represents a transformation made by a teacher or administrative team, undertaken against some odds or specific barriers. When you want to design meaningful environments for living and learning with children, you can’t take no for an answer. You and the children deserve no less than the biggest dream you can aim for. L ay a Foundation for Liv ing and L ear ning   COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL ]   33 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION / ENVIRONMENTS Children Thrive in Spaces Designed for Living and Learning Designs for Living and Learning has been a treasured resource for more than a decade. With this new edition, Carter and Curtis continue to lead the way as advocates and experts on the importance of thoughtfully planned indoor and outdoor environments that nurture children, families, and staff while supporting children’s learning. Shape welcoming spaces where children can live and learn with this updated edition that contains: • hundreds of new photographs and stories from early childhood programs around the world • a new chapter highlighting the process of transforming of environments • examples for soliciting children’s ideas about the environment • updates throughout that reflect current trends and issues in early childhood education such as negotiating Environment Rating Scales and QRIS BEAUTIFULLY CONSTRUCTED to connect to developmental and learning domains with well-conceptualized final chapters answering the questions that all will be asking as they read the book, “how can I do this in my classroom?” and “where will I get the resources”? —Dr. Deborah J. Cassidy, Professor of Human Development and Family Studies The University of North Carolina at Greensboro THIS NEW EDITION illuminates how the environment becomes an active agent that helps to shape the living going on inside it: the reader sees that the environment and the life it contains are compellingly inseparable. This is a thoughtful, inspiring, and empowering contribution to the early childhood field. —Carol Anne Wien, Faculty of Education York University Margie Carter and Deb Curtis are coauthors of seven best-selling Redleaf books. Through their partnership at Harvest Resources Associates, they work to inspire early childhood providers and educators to invest fully in their own professional learning. Margie and Deb each have over thirty-five years of experience teaching and guiding young children and early childhood educators in a variety of settings across North America, Australia, and New Zealand. ISBN 1-978-60554-372-7 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL $44.95