Learning Spaces That Kids Crave

With the upcoming school year just around the corner, I have been doing a lot of research about flexible learning spaces. In a discussion I had with a few colleagues, I was introduced to some learning spaces that kids (and adults alike) thrive in. It turns out, this is nothing new, as humans have always craved places to learn, explore, communicate, create and reflect. But how often are these learning needs being met in today’s classrooms?

Watering Hole, Mountain Top & Sandpit in the Classroom

Cave & Campfire in the classroomClick on the pictures above to read an article by Dr. David Thornburg

So what does this mean? Children innately thrive from having access to a variety of spaces that fulfill diverse learning tasks throughout their school day. After reflecting on past classrooms, I realized that I had always noticed a need for these spaces and that I had created them somewhat organically. Here is how I would categorize my pre-existing spaces into this new structure:

Watering Hole: Collaborative spaces at tables, on the floors or even in passing. A time where students hold informal discussions and peer teach. Learning is propelled forward. 

Mountain Top: The moments when students share finished products or even share their progress on a project to a larger group. This can happen with a student audience seated on the rug or on a projector screen with the use of technology.

Sandpit: Spaces where groups explore materials, tinker and make discoveries. This happens often and all over my classroom.

Cave: A nook or space where students can isolate themselves to gain insight. This space is preferred regularly during times of reading, writing and self-reflection.

Campfire: Our class time sitting around the large circle rug. Lots of learning happens here. These discussions are more formal and structured.

I was rather relieved to note that these spaces have been evident in my classroom, but now that I am more aware of the learning spaces kids needs, I can prepare the physical structures of my room with more intention.

Create learning spaces in your classroom or in your home that your kids are craving. 

While I spend the next few weeks setting up my classroom, I would love to share more about the learning spaces I create to resemble the Watering Hole, Mountain Top, Sandpit, Cave & Campfire.

For today’s post, I will be highlighting the cooperative teepee I made with my class last year, to symbolize “The Cave.” This teepee was very loved by my students, and I plan on creating something similar with my second graders this year.

Make a cooperative teepee to use as your class reading nook.

I followed the instructions from “The Handmade Home” to create the structure of the teepee, but I wanted my students to have a piece in its creation. So, I laid out a white sheet, markers and fabric scraps and let them go at it. They were so proud of their group design. It made the perfect cave.

Use markers and fabric scraps to make a cooperative teepee for your classroom library.

Design a class teepee for your classroom library.

The teepee has since been moved to Rhett’s room and we read in it EVERY night. He loves (and needs) this CAVE.

The teepee was even included in his third birthday balloon drop.

DIY teepee for a child's reading nook.

What Caves have you created with kids? I would love to hear about them in the comment section.

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2 Comments

  1. Megan

    Hi Jen!

    I so enjoyed reading this and all that you have been sharing with me as you have been exploring flexible learning spaces. I love the cave that you had last year I feel that this is a very important part of the classroom and a key component in creating a classroom community. Therefore, I want to look for ways improve this feature myself. Also, something that I really appreciated reading was that the sandpit can be throughout the room. This was an area I was struggling with logistically which I found troubling knowing it’s importance. I liked how you described it as being more flexible. I look forward to reading an upcoming post about the sandpit!

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