Monday, 30 December 2013

The ATELIER - a work in progress

Filosofiska has been open just over a year now - and it's hard to think that the premises I work and play in every day used to be a post-office as we and the children make the place more and more our own... but making it our own is a PROCESS... and we are in no hurry to get it finished - in fact we will never be finished as it will always be changing with the children in order to meet their needs...

Here is the journey so far of ONE area of the preschool - the atelier...


Many of the rooms are large and spacious with BIG windows (in the photo above my back is to the windows as I take the photograph).
There is soemthing quite amazing about BIG rooms - BUT it does say to the children RUN; RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN ALL OVER THE PLACE... this urge to run was hardly conducive to exploration.
Where the mat and pillows are used to be the construction area, but we moved that over to the window to make way for a library/quiet area. The words "Filosofi - kärlek till visdom (Philosophy - love of wisdom)" has been moved to above the documentation board in the library area (that is also under full development to encourage sitting and reading and a quiet place to reload with enrgy and thoughts). Where I am standing was a table separated from the construction area by shelving - on this table we had playdough etc.

The atelier that was already in exisitence at this point was in the adjacent room - and was quite small but placed next to the fantastic windows. It did not have easy access to water though.

So we made a decision to create an extra atelier making a divide between the posts that you see here - with the floor colour change being where it cornered off to create the atelier in the far right of this room.

This is what it looked like the other day - after a whole term of being used and not really being used the way we would like it... it got often chaotic and I felt there needed to be some sort of way that the room TOLD the children (and my colleagues who cannot read my mind) how the atelier should work, and where things have their home - as I was spending lots of time trying to keep things in the right place and sorting and resorting. The room should TELL the children how to do this (with help from us).
The tabes have been arranged in a variety of ways - this table constellation is the left over from the light table art we did and the table needed to be moved closed to a power outlet...

I pulled everything off the shelves and started from scratch. We moved a easel from the "orange room" to the atelier and raised the documentation board at the same time. (The rooms have been given different names by colour so that in the future their purpose can be changed and we will know which room we are talking about - at the moment the blue room is for BIG construction, movement and music - and also rest time, the yellow room for construction also the library, drawing, the red room for games, puzzles, drawing, playdough, the mini-atelier, the green room is for water play, the toilets and nappy changing area are here too, the orange room which has smaller things for the older children (we have mostly 1-2 year olds) and this room is developing more and more into an exploration/experiment/sensory room, and the rainbow room is for role-play. We have three groups of 10-14 children in each group - and we all have access to the whole preschool.
I am not finished here with my sorting - but this is how I left it after a day of sorting - at one point I flt it was never going to get finished...

This is how I left it today... the table closest to us is the clay and wirework table, the easel for painting and the table for drawing and crafting - and probably painting too - big open floor space so that we can paint BIG on the floor too! To the right is a shower so that we can clean up the children in the big messy art sessions!! - There are also three sinks low down for the children to wash their hands AND to take care of the tools and materials that they are using...

My aim is to have small pictures/symbols/label on each shelf to help the children feel competent about where toput things back - and also to support my colleagues to understand MY logic of the atelier...

I am going to also fix some inspiration photos and artwork to put up on the wall to get the children more inspired to create and not JUST experience the various materials - although there will be opportunities for that of course...
The big boxes either side of the easel contain tubes and boxes etc for junk modelling - as yet none of the children have shown a great interest in that... but I think this up and coming project might just introduce them to such possibilities...

The artwork on the easel I did TOGETHER with a child this morning as a way to support language and also to support concentration - the owl is sleeping - in fact there are about five different songs bound up in that art pice - so it might look like black splodges on what could have been an owl... but it does tell a very specific story with songs with their lyrics changed to fit the art and to challenge and increase the child's vocabulary...

Not the most clear photo in the world - sorry about it's fuzziness.. but this is taken with my back to th easel. Here you can see the partition and on the other side are the BIG windows that face out onto the SQUARE - you will probably hearing a lot about that square during 2014!! By the left hand window is the construction area - it was moved from the other side as it was close to the door that was used to go throw away the rubbish at the end of the day... it meant that saving the children's constructions was not always easy if tyou waned to be able to open the door and get out! So we swapped windows... and now there is the possibility for the children to save their constructions if they wish... which is no easy feat with 22 one and two year olds who have a mission to knock things over... But we do manage - and there WILL come a day when all these 1 and 2 year olds no longer have that need and we have a whole load of contructions being saved. At the moment to compensate the constructions being at high risk for being knocked over we take photo documentation of as much as possible...

The brown partition is going to be painted white (at some stage) - the chest on the white shelf is filled with "treasures" and will be something new for the children. The aim is that when they are creating that we can open up the treasure chest to see if there is anything they need in there... well it will suffice until I can get my hands on a whole load of glass jars to display the treasures that are in there...

There is a vase next to the flower thing... they are the children's wands!! Behind the big white shelves on the right is the library...


So as you can see we are entering a new phase of the ateliers journey... it is just a case of waiting for the children to see how they interact with the room and the material there ... and also how easy it is for my colleagues and I to use the room too... it has to work for all of us...

Now that there is more space in the orange room, since the removal of the easel, my mind is turning to how I can expand the possibilities for the children there - so that they can really explore... and also sorting out some other shelves that have become dumping grounds (you know what I mean) so that they too talk to both children and adults!!

In the last week we have been open 3 days - and we have had children on all of those days too - so all of this has to happen at the same time as taking care of the children. There have been very FEW children as most are spending time at home - but so are most of the staff too...

today I my children came to help... (for extra pocket money) here is Michael washing the chairs - he cleaned every one - and made enough money today to buy some lego (of course) that was in the sale.



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