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Classroom Arrangement:

Redesigning the Green Room

Classroom arrangement has a significant impact on the learning environment of preschool classrooms. In Redesigning the Green Room, teacher Cynthia DeJesús gives a tour of her classroom and discusses her plans and motivations for redesigning the room. After the redesign, Cynthia reflects on how the changes have improved her classroom. She also describes some of the challenges to her initial plans and gives advice to teachers who are thinking of redesigning their own classroom spaces. 

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  • Redesigning the Green Room

    Download a printable transcript.

    Cynthia DeJesús, Preschool Teacher: Hi, my name is Cynthia DeJesús, and this is the redesign of the green room.

    Planning the Redesign (0:30)

    Cynthia: This is our group time area slash circle time. This is where we begin our morning where the children sit around on a letter on the rug and we greet each other. During center time, this serves also as our library where children can come over and um sit in a quiet area and look at a book. We also have a retelling spot for children to retell and use retelling pieces for their favorite stories. However, because of the natural lighting that comes in here, we are going to change it into a science slash writing center, so that children can look outside and observe the natural environment and use their journals as they’re observing out the window.

    So right now this is our writing center. If you can imagine we’ll have a braided rug, a circle rug. The easel will be placed somewhere along this side, and this is where we will start our group time. I always feel that the group time area should be in the middle of the classroom because it’s the heart of the classroom; it’s the meeting place for all of us to gather.

    This corner here is where I wanted to add a new center to our classroom. Right now we don’t have a music center, and throughout my research I realized that we need a mirror in our music center. It needs to be some place where there are noisier activities, so this corner here will be converted into a music center with some shelving to define the space, and we’ll use hooks to organize our instruments, and to have the mirror, which is already in place here.

    So with that in mind, dramatic play will move over to this side of the wall. And this is where our science area is now, which is why I’d like to move it to the window because there’s no window for children to observe and there’s no natural lighting. This is our block area. We’re not going to change our block area because according to a study that we did a while ago, it’s a great space. The shelving is in the appropriate spots and it’ll be next to music. We’ll have two noisy centers together as well as dramatic play. So, all the noisier activities will be along the same part of the classroom.

    This is our cubby area, so if you can imagine families [I’m going to keep walking], families will come in; they drop off their things. Sometimes there’s a child sitting here who may not be ready to join his peers, or his or her peers or friends, and they’re not really alone. So, this becomes a high traffic area in the morning. And because we wanted to add our music center we thought, hey, why can’t we just get rid of the cubbies? So, these cubbies will be removed. This will be our library, this will turn into our library area and a quiet area, so when children come in they have a quiet space and a cozy space to be alone if they wanted to or read a book with their peers while their friends are being dropped off. And now, you may wonder where our cubbies are going to be, so…

    So, instead of the families walking into the classroom with their child to drop off their clothing, their outer gear, we incorporated hooks. We added these hooks to the wall.

    We have these cubbies, where they can put their hats and their gloves, their sunglasses during the summertime, any other things that will not fit on the hook. They will utilize these outside cubbies.

    Reflections: After the Redesign (4:23)

    Cynthia: A lot of collaboration has occurred since the room rearrangement. I find that children are really working together; they’re sitting more and reading together, working on a puzzle together, working in the sensory bin together, dancing and singing in the music center. It feels…it’s hard to describe because before I felt it was a little closed, almost as if when you’re in writing, you’re in writing, and you have to stay here. This is more open. We’ve added some texture to the classroom by adding curtains in the quiet area; we’ve added fabric above our music center; there’s scarves in our circle area; our rug is kind of neutral color. Each center flows towards another. For instance, in writing, a child can look out the window and write about science, or in science they can bring their journal over. It seems united almost; it seems put together. Blocks is near dramatic play. Dramatic play is near music now, so those three centers are kind of in the corner of the classroom where they’re more active.

    Our music center did not go where I originally wanted it to go. Dramatic play was not working where the old science center was. It was just…there wasn’t any room for children to really engage in cooperative play. So, we tried it for a while. We observed children throughout and then we switched it back.

    Cynthia (to children): All right, we are going to get ready for our think pair share. This is where you’re going to tell your partner something about your weekend, and remember to try to say only one thing because your friend has to remember what you said.

    I feel that our conversations and our discussions during group are really engaging and not focused on what letter you’re sitting on that day. This is where we have our daily conversations, where children come and we talk about problems; we read stories. I know when I have teachers visit my classroom now they’re like, “Oh your group area is right in the middle. How do you handle that? What happens if, you know…” But it just works, because I speak to the children and the children are part of the classroom. So, once they’re part of the classroom they will respect it and treat it as such.

    Advice for Other Teachers (6:37)

    Cynthia: I would say talk to your children first. Talk to your children in the classroom first. Don’t be afraid. Try it out. There will be changes, I mean, what, six months, seven months down the road and there still might be changes upcoming, and don’t be afraid to get the children involved in it. Before we changed our room, I spoke to the children about it. I said, “I was thinking of moving group area. Where do you think we should move it?”

    The best part, again, is watching the children engage in the classroom, watching them collaborate, watching them sitting in the quiet area, reading a library book together, watching them use each center. Watching them just enjoy, truly enjoy, their space.

    © 2015 Center for Early Childhood Education at Eastern Connecticut State University.
    May be reprinted for educational purposes.

  • Producer: Julia DeLapp
    Videography: Ken Measimer, Sean Leser
    Editing: Sean Leser
    Script: Julia DeLapp, Sean Leser