Saturday, 30 May 2015

Visit to Ekudden Preschool, Uppsala - INDOOR environment.

For quite some time, and with great joy, I have been following Ekuddens preschool facebook pages... seeing the children's learning being made visible.
They have four pages... Bubblan ...  Droppen ... Myllan and ...Gnistan
For me it was a clear choice to visit when Diane Kashin came to stay with me in Stockholm... a journey together to Uppsala to learn about how the teachers at Ekudden have been working together with their third teacher.

Our guides for the morning were Anna and Sabina who showed us around and explained the journey of each room - as well as many other ideas, strategies and the way preschools work in Uppsala.

I took lots of images, as did Diane, and I have been busy sorting out which ones to include in this first introduction to Ekudden Preschool - focussing on the indoor environment - leaving the school and the outdoor environment for other posts to come...

so to the images... as always enjoy the inspiration - and use them to kick start your own thinking about how your third teacher/environment looks - take ideas and build on them to meet the children and teachers in your context.

Myllan's room of exploration - light, sound and touch to be explored... there is both an overhead and projector that are used, depending on what kind of image they are wanting. Mirrors, cozy corner to lie down and explore - a box of light with items linked to the current project inside to peek at trhough windows. A room for the imagination. There is also string/rope going across the room so that material can be draped down and the childen can climb inside the light installation - very much like what I did with Vinden... see here

In Uppsala all young children are given a book "Knacka På" which is about knocking on doors... the pages of the book, and then seeing what is on the next page... it is a natural step to set up the book in large format in the environment of the youngest children at the preschool... a book where all the children can meet, as they all have the book at home. I love the fact that the city of Uppsala give books out for free for children (at various ages too... and when they are older they get to choose between two books) - I wish Stockholm was doing similar.
the children at Ekudden sleep in their own prams/pushchairs year round... they are parked under the shelter of the roof just outside the window. The children have the security of their own prams to sleep in, and can be easily rocked/rolled if they need some help to fall asleep.

Creating their own playspaces with cardboard boxes.
Between the two younger departments/groups and the older ones there is a shared space for for play and exploration. This is one area of that space with a sand play area

and this is another area of the same space - the bottle in the background of the photo are just off to the right of the photo above... This image shows one of several cubes the preschool has - both inside and out... which is essentially a wooden cube frame that can be draped with material etc and used in a variety of ways... imagination is the only limitation - from shops, to light installations and aquariums to castles to...
On the walls decorated lazy susans have been mounted for exploration.

there is a second shared space - another large room with areas for play and exploration... a light table to explore nature, a construction area and role play area... also several tables to meet, chat and work at their projects (as well as eat lunch)

In most of the rooms exploration islands were set up... not just the idea of a space to explore, but also so that the room says slow down, see what is around you, play with respect to other's play and exploration. Large open spaces can scream run run run to young children, which can make construction play difficult if people start running through it... The children get ample time to run outside every day - so running is not limited... but respect for play and safety is encouraged.
In the older children's area there is a large contruction area, whith many raised surfaces to build upon. Here you can also see the cube in its naked state. Anna and Sabina have found that the cube needs to be dressed differently from time to time to make it visible again - or to help stimulate the play... either deepen it or change its path if it has been stuck in the same play for a very long time...

The two older groups share an atelier together... it was a traditional atelier for paint and art - but as they realised they tended to paint in other areas of the preschool and the room was not being used to its full potential they changed the focus of the atelier - right now it is a atelier of construction and light - and there is the idea that this room will not remain static but will continually develop and change in its focus... a room to explore and be creative.
the older children have created a garden (with mud play before the planting). One child apparently guarded the garden with a stick and thus came the idea of protecting the garden with a wall of sticks... this very much reminded me of the mini medieval gardens I had just seen in Vinterviken Gardens earlier in the week with Diane - sadly I did not take photos then... but will head back and take some. Anna told us how lucky they felt acquiring the gardening table as they got it for free, including delivery, through a site called Blocket (similar to craigslist... so I learned).

So concludes this first taste of Ekudden preschool... a preschool that has just celebrated 10 years of working with children... and their journey was clear... throughtful consideration of their thrid teacher - and important colleague who needs to be regularly consulted so that the children are empowered.

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