The Power of Purposeful Play Environments
The value of creating a purposeful play space for young children is something that should not be underestimated. Whether it is in your classroom, home, or playroom, being able to create and provide the optimal play spaces that honor a child's developmentally appropriate learning processes is the key to the environment being the "third teacher." When you walk into intentional space created for children you will see the children are constructively engaged and ready to be challenged in clearly defined areas.
So how do you define play spaces? Zone. Zoning a space is about creating places where things can happen. It is a clearly defined area that encourages and accommodates the type of play it is intended for naturally. These Zoned Centers ultimately increase learning and facilities creative play by providing material, furnishings, and space that support it.
Here are some examples of Zoned Areas also known as centers: Dramatic Play, Art Area, Science, Block Play, Comfy Corner, Sensory Table, Loose Parts, and more.
Children's Factory recently #gifted this Toy & Block Mobile Storage Shelf which was perfect in creating a "zoned" Block Pay Area. In this space we have legos, duplos, wooden blocks, magnetic tiles, and anything that encourages block play.
Since the area is now set up to accommodate, facilitate and challenge the child's thinking, it becomes a space where the children can continuously explore and extend the materials to gain understanding in endless ways.
Any young child enters any environment competent and aware at any age. When the adult purposefully zones areas it creates an environment that naturally teaches. Children will respond positively, jump right into the space, if the areas clearly communicate and encourage the type of play they may partake in.
Here are other ways to purposefully enhance your play spaces with the environment as the third teacher:
3. Dramatic Play Corner