Creating a classroom library may not seem relevant to classroom displays but I think we need to consider all aspects of the learning environment and the way they work together when we plan displays.
I want to highlight some of the more interesting classroom libraries that I’ve seen recently. This one is a simple, yet soothing space. The colours are muted and not too stimulating but with just a touch of red for warmth. The books are tidy but accessible. They can be quickly popped back into the trays with very little fuss. There are cuddlies to hand which can be surprisingly important even for older children. The mat, rug and cushions combine together to make a cosy welcoming space. (Just a note about cushions. These are much better than beanbags as children with asthma can find the filling problematic.)The bookcases have been used to create a discreet, yet visible area. I think this is a lovely, well thought out space and it makes me want to curl up there with a good book so hopefully it will have the same effect on children!
Here’s a very different approach:
This time there’s a child sized sofa rather than rugs and cushions. It’s a nice idea but I wonder if it’s less practical. It’s definitely more expensive! It limits the number of children able to use the area and makes it harder for an adult to join them at the right level. The children will be side by side rather than clustered and whilst this might be useful for maintaining a quiet area, speaking and listening aren’t really well served by this arrangement.
On the plus side the area looks welcoming and cosy. Displays have been used discreetly to remind the children what this area is about. The area is clearly visible but it’s not quite as defensible a space.
This space is more enclosed than the others. It’s got child sized furniture and it’s quite small. It looks like an interesting and engaging space that will appeal to children. It’s going to provide a good speaking and listening environment but it worries me slightly on a few counts. Firstly, it is almost too private. If children do feel unobserved there is always a potential for bullying behaviours to go unnoticed. Secondly, it’s not an easy space for an adult to enter, get involved and facilitate discussions.
One other advantage of the first area is that there’s less attempt to control how the children sit. Child sized furniture is often most appealing to adults and to those children who like to sit quietly anyway. For those who are more kinaesthetic or squirmy as I prefer to call it even the most delightful furniture can, literally, be a pain!