Cleaning Up the Clutter

Throughout my research into the Reggio Emilia approach to education, I have heard stories of how teachers using this approach constantly reevaluate how their room is being used, how the centers are being used, and what the children’s interests are. I have also seen pictures of how uncluttered and streamlined their classrooms look. Both of these points have caused me to look at my room differently and reevaluate the centers in my own classroom.

Today I did a major overhaul of two centers. My art center has always looked cluttered. The shelves were more like small cubbies, just big enough to slide papers in. It may have been a mailbox shelf for teachers at one time, as a matter of fact. My biggest goal for this week was to switch out this shelf for the one in the science area so that the art supplies would be open and more accessible to the children. I have the pencils, scissors, crayons, and collage materials in individual pencil boxes on the shelves. Paper is on the shelves also, as well as magazines that the children can cut pictures out of and use them to make collages. Tomorrow I will fill the glue bottles up and put them on a shelf as well, so that they will be there for when the children want to make collages or whatever.

The science area now has the cubby-like shelves, and while I don’t really like that shelf at all any more (initially I had begged to be able to keep the shelf, because I thought it would make a great art shelf) I am stuck with it for now because I have nothing to replace it with. So I will see how it works where it is for now, until I can get something better.

I wanted to change out my manipulative shelf for a shelf that the school-age teacher had, but all of her shelves match so she was loathe to give any of them up. She had a couple of shelves that were lower, which I thought would be good for my kids, but we have used what we have and have been fine with it. But the top of the manipulative shelf is completely cleaned off now – no more clutter! Actually, there were toys on the top of the shelf, but it is very hard for the children to reach them when they are up there, so I think that I am going to get a plant or something to put on top of that shelf.

So I have a couple more places to clean, a couple other shelves that have become catch-all spaces for me. I will have to retrain myself to not use these places in that way – it is hard because I don’t have a lot of storage in my classroom! But the top of the manipulative shelf looks so good that it is inspiring me to clean up the rest of the room!

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