design for a quality classroom
A collaborative effort
made possible with the advice
and support of child care
experts across the country.
Mary was inside
garden and she
through the door
under the ivy
any time and she
felt as if she had
found a world
all her own.
Frances Hodgson Burnett
from The Secret Garden.
design for a quality classroom
“Our designs shape children’s beliefs about
themselves and life. In a well designed area,
children are engaged and feel secure. A well
designed area can facilitate predictable,
consistent and intimate care for each child.”
– Anita Olds
The Importance of Space .................................................................2
What Makes a Good Space? ............................................................2
Activity Areas .....................................................................................4
Room Regions and Zones
Freedom to Explore
Play and Sitting Surfaces .............................................................. 11
Storage ............................................................................................. 12
Mood ................................................................................................. 14
Equipment and Materials .............................................................. 17
Indoor Air Quality
A Quick Guide to Space Planning ................................................ 20
The Importance of Space
“Do you still have that loft?” Too often, childcare takes place in When children feel
a former student stops to society’s cast-off spaces: church
comfortable in their physical
ask Madeline Mulligan on basements, converted warehouses.
the street. Even centers “purpose-built” surroundings, they will venture
for childcare are often designed to explore materials or events
In Madeline’s child care center, with more of an eye to adult
a homemade loft occupies a cozy around them. – Anita Olds
priorities than children’s needs.
corner. A science area is tucked Ideally, architect and child care
underneath, and from upstairs professionals work together as
What Makes a
you can see out the classroom peers to create the best possible Good Space?
window. Twenty years later, environment for young children. • Predictability
young adults still remember Whether laying out rooms you
climbing the wide ladder to catch • Clear paths to activities
helped design or making do with
a few moments of peace, to watch the space you’ve been given, your • Well-defined boundaries
the robin build her nest outside, decisions about room layout are • Enough opportunity
and to gain a fresh perspective on crucial. for movement
the room’s activities below. • Freedom for exploration
Are the children in your care
Through the centuries, those who deeply engrossed in their • Privacy
care for children have understood activities, or are many at loose • Variety
the significance of a child’s ends? The difference may well • Enough complexity
surroundings. In the 1800s, stem from room layout. This (versatile open-ended units)
the child care expert Friedrich booklet is designed to help you • Flexibility
Froebel stressed the importance create spaces your children will • Varied levels of stimulation
of environmental design in terms remember, even decades later,
of a garden: natural, organic, and • A supportive environment
ever changing. He maintained Your friends at • The right amount
that when care is applied to a of empty space
child’s surroundings, behavior • Inviting, welcoming,
can be guided and inspired. The home-like feel
simplest of spaces can become a • Memorability
haven of play and learning.
As a parent of a child The best child care practitioners activity station you plan. The
know that learning is a matter next sections of this booklet will
attending a facility filled with
of discovery. Reasoning with discuss these points in detail, for
your products, and as an a kindergarten child about they are the central units from
architect, I think your furniture fulcrums and centers of gravity which a room grows.
may be fruitless, but a three- • Location: Where is it in relation
is wonderful. The Teacher Low
year-old who builds a lopsided to other physical features and
Chairs and Woodcrest Chairs tower soon discovers how to other activity areas?
are classics—clean simple balance the blocks and distribute • Boundaries: How well is the
weight evenly! area defined?
lines, one piece maple-ply
“Open structure” rooms let • Play and Sitting Surfaces:
construction, comfortable and Are they appropriate to the
children choose from a variety
strong. The attention to detail of activity stations. There may activities they support?
is clear throughout all the be an area for reading, a block • Storage: The materials children
area, an area for projects, an need in each activity area
products I've seen. should be stored conveniently
area for active play. This room
– Marc Alan Parsons, Architect & Dad design uses the natural interests at hand, and displayed
and impulses of children to their attractively for effective use.
best advantage—children learn • Mood: Is the mood of the area
to make smooth transitions by appropriate to the function? Is
themselves and in their own it home-like?
time, much as they would do if
they were playing in their own The child’s play with sand
home. It helps them develop their or mud is the earliest stage of
own routines and discipline and
experience in shaping matter.
supports happy, motivated play.
Children who are gifted in this
Many factors contribute to
a truly great room layout way will soon do work of real
that encourages children to merit. The transition from play
learn through play. Child care to work is hardly noticeable.
professional Anita Olds lists five
attributes to consider for each – Eberhard Arnold
When considering your room Room Regions construction toys, puzzles, books,
layout and the location of each games or just places to be cozy.
activity area, there are a few Many of these activities happen
concepts to keep in mind: The most successful child care on the floor. These activities do
rooms are divided into two best in a protected or somewhat
Predictability regions, wet and dry. This simply secluded corner.
means that the entry area and
Institutional settings are In addition…
messy zones like sand and water
inherently unpredictable: one centers are planned into the 5. The Outdoor Zone. The
layout in a practical fashion. playground is the most important
is never sure what will happen Consider these “zones,” suggested zone. With rapid urbanization and
next, who will arrive, and for by Anita Olds as a sensible way to shrinking wilderness, a child’s last
organize a classroom. opportunity to enjoy nature may
what purpose. Unpredictability
lie in the outdoor play space of a
increases children’s lack of ease Wet Region
child care center. We recommend
and control. – Anita Olds 1. The Entry Zone (Wet Region) a natural environment that will
is where children’s personal encourage rich educational
Children love to explore and effects are stored. There should opportunities such as:
discover, but they also rely on be a place where children can • Climbing trees
a certain level of predictability; sit to dress/undress. Sometimes
• Rolling down hills
they like to be in control of a door in the entry zone opens
onto the playground. • Mud pies
their environment. They like to
• Building forts
know what’s going on and what 2. The Messy Zone (Wet Region)
will happen next. Entries and • Hide and seek
can contain tables, chairs, easels,
exits need to be clearly defined, woodworking benches, sand • Playing in bushes
and pathways direct. Activity and water centers, nature study, • Exploring woods
areas need to be inviting islands, and a kitchen area. It needs to • Gardening
with room to detour around have access to sinks, and ideally, • Sand box play
them. Even the layout of the access to the outside play area.
building itself matters. Children This is also the most natural zone Don’t forget to offer challenging
find clusters of rooms more to gather the entire group for and vigorous activities with
predictable than long corridors. mealtimes, etc. Floor surface is an trikes, bikes, scooters and wheeled
• Doorways should be obvious important consideration here. vehicles. Hollow blocks (indoors
and out) provide the ideal
• Traffic flow should be intuitive
Dry Region combination of large muscle and
• Rooms or areas should be cognitive development. A swing
arranged in a cluster rather 3. The Active Zone (Dry
Region) supports large motor is a good place for a child to gain
than along a corridor
play, wheeled vehicles, music respite from the demands of
and movement, climbing and group care. If you don’t have an
dramatic play. outdoor space, you can always
bring nature in.
4. The Quiet Zone (Dry Region)
contains blocks, manipulatives,
Boundaries protect children’s Paths perhaps observing the activities
activities from traffic, lunch and of others. A straight pathway
other distractions, encouraging When [pathways are] well with one beginning and one
sustained play. Even in a small designed, entries, exits, and ending emphasizes reaching the
room, you can create well-defined destination. Unbroken paths
movement between spaces
activity areas, and children encourage, perhaps even insist
will exhibit a higher degree of are physically and emotionally upon, running.”
exploratory behavior and social smooth, even during
interaction. Efficient boundaries
emergencies. – Jim Greenman
double as display and shelving
space. These boundaries need …Movement is considered to
When paths are well defined,
not be permanent and must not
children move quickly and easily
be the bedrock of all intellectual
interfere with supervision. Often a
carpet or similar visual boundary from one activity to another. development… often it is
defines space. But physical dividers Ideally, paths detour around merely limited opportunities for
can be used as well, solid or clear, activity spaces. They go to a
destination that is clearly visible movement that create many so-
high or low. They can be made
of fabric, wicker or lattice, or of from a child’s point of view. called behavioral and learning
shelving. Some caregivers even Most of all, they don’t lead into difficulties. – Anita Olds
create a small corral or “sunken dead space. Dead space often
theater” to prevent toys from occurs when activity areas are Children need scope for
getting scattered. placed around the wall, leaving movement. Caregivers can direct
open floor in the center of movement so that it is safe and
Often, children want to save their a room. Instead of moving doesn’t disrupt other activities.
projects so they can continue through dead space, children Climb-and-slide equipment,
them the next day. Edgington tend to get stuck and distracted like a Nursery Gym, can provide
(1998) reports that if children in counterproductive activities. this movement. These units are
are allowed to follow an interest Teachers can avoid dead space designed to suggest appropriate
over a period of time, motivation by placing a low activity area in activity to a child.
and concentration improve. the center of the room, causing
Clear boundaries protect the a natural path to form around it Annemarie Arnold, a Froebel-
work and play of children. Many and into other activities. educated teacher, recommends
concepts interplay to create this that childcare professionals “let
sense of defined area: Jim Greenman (1988) observes children follow their own interests.
that different paths encourage If the whole interest of the child is
different types of behavior. “A captured, he will be creative.”
• Movement meandering pathway with forks
• Freedom to Explore and T’s encourages shopping
• Privacy for an appropriate activity and
Freedom to Explore making connections in the life- Privacy
learning process. Dramatic play
Richness of experience, not costumes want to find their way In an ideal setting, the
tidy perfection, is the point of into the kitchen corner. It’s a children have access to rooms
natural result of role-play. Allow
the whole thing. where they can withdraw from
children to take the art materials
– Katherine Whitehorn to the block area to make traffic the main group if they wish, to
signs for the city, or use the toy play without interruption, to
Children need to explore animals on the farm.
using all their senses. It is relax and daydream.
important to allow children The most inspiring rooms are – Mark Dudek
to move freely between organized from a perspective that
activity centers to explore and encourages children to move, Variety and complexity can
experiment, mix and match. explore and experiment, not a entertain children for a long
Hutt et al (1989) observed a housekeeping perspective that time, but it is important that
center where staff would not encourages children to sit still, be opportunities and places are
allow the activity areas to quiet and not disturb the order of created where children can simply
“cross-pollinate,” unwittingly the center. be. It is wonderful to have a few
preventing the children from Children need the freedom to: simple units where a child can
• explore using all their senses. play alone.
• move between activity areas. Children instinctively recognize
• mix or connect different the most protected, secure space
activities. in a room. It is often the corner
directly opposite the entry. This
is probably the ideal place for a
If you want to do something quiet zone, a place where children
good for a child…give him can go for a bit of privacy.
an environment where he can Cubbies and comfortable corners
touch things as much as he are a child’s favorite. They find
it reassuring to put their backs
wants. – Buckminster Fuller
against something solid. Even
adults feel this way. This is why
many people find a hospital
waiting room unnerving—it
is often a large, open space
crisscrossed with chairs. Activity
happens behind and around the
chairs, making security and quiet
waiting an impossibility.
Play and Sitting Surfaces
Anita Olds asks if playing and Others will look at the pictures collaboration, perhaps you
sitting surfaces are appropriate or make believe they are reading, will have a couch instead of
to the activities they support. or perhaps sing from them. Still individual chairs.
Consider each area: what do others will copy text or pictures.
This variety can reach all areas,
children do in this area? What They may do these things alone
indoors and outdoors. A wide
props do they need to support or in groups of two or three. So
variety of activities stretches
this activity? it makes sense to have different
children’s imaginations and keeps
props to support the different
Variety activities that books suggest.
Children’s play areas can offer Paper and crayons in the book
corner encourage children • Small motor activities and large
a variety of occupations, and
to copy pictures or letters. muscle play
a variety of places in which
To encourage make-believe, • Solitary play and cooperative
to do them. A bookshelf, for
you might have costumes, to group play
example, offers picture books and
reading books, fiction and fact, encourage singing, some musical • Open-ended play and pre-
songbooks and reference books. instruments. Have a listening scribed activities
Some children will read the text. center for enjoying Audio- • Sensory stimulation and islands
books. If you want to encourage of quiet
When it comes to storage, there Some centers support the display storage shelves. This allows
never seems to be enough. As of relevant books in each activity manipulation of the environment
one of the five most important area—bringing literacy beyond by teachers and children.
attributes of activity areas, storage the book corner.
Flexibility in room layout is
must be considered early in the
Well-designed storage shelves valuable for:
room layout process.
provide display areas on their • changes in enrollment.
According to Jim Greenman’s backs. This supports the logical • accommodating new staff with
(1988) helpful list, good storage is: practice of using shelving to define different preferences.
• located close to the point of use. the boundaries of activity areas
• adjusting to different groups
• able to comfortably hold and and saves precious wall space.
with different needs.
distinctively display contents Don’t neglect the need for • seasonal changes.
when open. personal storage. Children have • changes in children’s interests,
• the right size and shape for their cubbies, but teachers also educational objectives, etc.
the space. need space they can call their own. • adapting the environment to
• aesthetically pleasing. meet behavioral needs.
Finally each area—whether
• clear and understandable to it accommodates books, • letting children change their
its user, whether 20 months manipulatives, sand and water, environment to suit their play.
or 20 years old.
blocks, or large muscle play—has • accommodating adaptive equip-
• safe. characteristics that must be ment for ADA compliance.
The mention of display above reflected in the storage methods
With portable screens and
deserves special attention. If employed there.
dividers, you can create versatile,
they are deep enough and at the changeable interest areas that
right height, the tops of shelving Flexibility hold children’s attention. For
can hold children’s sculptures, example, expand an area for a
The ideal room is an empty shell
objects, or nature exhibits. This group gathering or create a small
filled with movable furniture.
practice conveys without words cozy space for individual work.
Built-in features severely restrict
that this is the children’s space, Supply children with large hollow
flexible room arrangements and
and it demonstrates the respect blocks, boxes, and pillows so they
the opportunity for future changes
the teacher has for their work. can create spaces to suit their play.
and improvements. Avoid built-
ins, and instead consider movable
Empty Space children and staff relaxed and Good design can clearly create
happy is a key factor for reducing a sense of welcome. In general,
The amount of space in a room stress. A well-organized, homelike curves are perceived as warm and
and how it is organized affects environment encourages good feminine, while straight lines are
children’s behavior. A tight space behavior and positive interaction. hard and masculine. Obtuse angles
may encourage working together are inviting and acute angles are
but can also lead to aggression Ann Epstein (The Intentional
rejecting. To be really welcoming,
and frustration. Reducing Teacher) points out “When
the reception area should be
clutter and installing flexible children are in a large space, they
concave in shape. The whole area
furnishings can maximize the use feel small in comparison to their
should be intimately scaled and
of each area. On the other hand, surroundings, and time seems to
child-oriented. A fish tank can
too much space in a room can pass more slowly for them. When
work wonders. So can natural light.
cause children to be restless and children are in a playhouse, in a
unfocused and reduce interaction play yard tent, or under a table In addition, Chizea et al say,
with peers. Using dividers to feel large in comparison to their “All children—and all adults—
create activity areas or pockets surroundings, and attentions seems should be able to find positive
reduces distraction and can help to be sustained. Perception of the images of the group of people
teachers facilitate absorbed play. size of the space in which children with whom they feel themselves
play affects the quality of the play to be identified. This includes
Rooms should have a balance of and thus the potential for learning. issues of culture, ethnicity, age
well-defined spaces for a variety of and gender, and also people’s
activities, suggesting a mood that Altering space to make chidlren
reflects the task in each of these feel large in relation to their
mini-environments. For example, environment may enable children Well designed spaces
the reading area should be quiet to enter complex play more
should reflect the style, cultural
and soft; the art area, colorful and quickly and to continue complex
creative; and the dramatic play play for longer periods of time.” values and architectural
area, imaginative and fun. Children heritage of the surrounding
take cues from the environment to Inviting Play community. Each classroom
regulate their behavior.
Play has long been should also reflect the
Research and experience show
recognized as the key way in personality of both the children
that too many hours spent
in an institutional setting are which children come to make and adults who work there.
stressful for children and can their own sense of their often- – Vicki Stoecklin
have a negative effect on their
development. It is therefore
confusing world. Play provides
Some parents will want to drop
important to provide homelike a rich method for children to off their children and go, but a
surroundings so that children express what they know and, well designed space will encourage
can be relaxed, comfortable and them to stay and interact, creating
free to learn. Attention to detail most significantly, how they
a bridge between home and the
such as plants, area rugs, wall feel about the world and their big impersonal world. It says: we
hangings etc., creates a beautiful relationships. – Marjorie Ouvry understand children; you can be a
and caring atmosphere. Keeping child here.
Is the mood of the area Jim Greenman (1988) notes, It is a beautiful thing
“Objects lay claim to our feelings
appropriate to the function? to see a child thoroughly
because of associations and
Is it home-like? – Anita Olds qualities of the objects. Wood, absorbed in his play…. Play
leather, and some natural stone brings joy, contentment, and
To make an area welcoming and brick objects beckon to
detachment from the troubles
it should include: be touched. Objects made of
• opportunities for play. these materials tend to wear of the day. And especially
with grace. The smoothings and nowadays, in our hectic, time-
• creative use of light, both
cracks and weathering and nicks
natural and artificial.
often add character.”
and money-driven culture, the
• curves vs. straight lines. importance of those things
• obtuse vs. acute angles. Memorable centers are places of
wonder and enchantment. They for every child cannot be
• concave vs. convex shape.
• opportunities to explore.
do not feel completely civilized emphasized enough.
and repressed. The challenge for
– Johann Christoph Arnold
• counters and interest areas child care practitioners is to foster
at child height. places of freedom and delight
• opportunities to work where the enchantments and
on the floor. mysteries of childhood can be
given full expression.
A spirited place satisfies
children’s souls. It possesses
a wholeness that makes the
heart sing, the soul rejoice, the
body feel safe and at rest. It is
the spirit of a place that makes
it memorable, that expands our
sense of possibility and puts
us in touch with what is most
loving, creative, and human
about ourselves. – Anita Olds
Equipment and Materials Complexity
Children need equipment with
enough complexity to hold their
interest for an extended time.
Thus far this book has Play places are linked to the Kritchevsky (1977) suggests that
considered the layout of complexity of each unit. (See equipment can be categorized into
individual activity areas in a sidebar and chart.) four types:
room. But what about the actual • A Potential Unit is a clearly defined
equipment and materials within Stimulation space with no play materials, for
those spaces? Here are a few ideas example, an empty table. It is im-
to help you make good choices. Nature provides the perfect
portant to identify these areas and
example of an environment that predict the kind of activities that
stimulates all the senses in a
Amount-to-do may develop. (0 play places.)
variety of different ways. Large
• A Simple Play Unit has only one
Are there enough units in your areas like the earth, the sky,
obvious use, and no sub-parts or
room to keep children happily and the grass are green, blue or additional materials. Consider a
occupied? The right balance various shades of brown. The tricycle or a swing. Usually only
helps to avoid conflicts over smaller points of color are mainly one child can play with a simple
one unit and lets children move primary colors. Blue, green, and play unit, and sometimes that is just
quickly from one play place to brown are calm colors, while red what is needed. (1 play place.)
the next. Conversely, if there is and yellow are exciting. • A Complex Play Unit has sub-parts
only one play place per child, a or several materials that allow you to
Light and reflection help bring
child who finishes his activity improvise. A nursery gym is consid-
this level of interest indoors.
will have very little choice over ered a complex play unit. Children
For opportunities for interplay
what he does next. may also discover that by combining
between light and shadow, like
two simpler units they can create a
This amount-to-do formula can a rattan screen hanging in a
more exciting system. When road
help avoid conflicts (Kritchevsky window and blowing in the
signs are added to the tricycle area, it
1977): Start by comparing your breeze. Mirrors, too, stimulate becomes a city street. Unit blocks are
layout to a game of musical chairs. beautiful play. inherently open-ended. When cars,
When “the music stops” there trucks, farm animals, and toy figures
Transitions, however, should be
should be plenty of play places to are added to a block set, the level
gradual and predictable so as not
choose from, more than 1.5 per of interest is raised, but the way in
to intimidate. A transition area
child. Divide the number of play which the blocks are used becomes
helps alert the children that they
places by the number of children more specific. (4 play places.)
are entering a new space with
expected to play there to help you • A Super Play Unit has three or more
different limits and possibilities.
establish successful layouts. play materials, for example: a home
This link may be as simple as a
corner with dolls, dishes and dra-
doormat, a doorstep, or a porch
matic play costumes. (8 play places.)
or entryway with lockers.
Example Number of Obvious Uses Number of Different Number of Play
Subparts or Materials Places per Unit
Potential Unit Empty Table 0 0 0
Simple Play Unit Tricycle 1 0 1
Complex Play Unit Sand & Water Table Multiple 1 or 2 4
Super Play Unit Home Corner with Multiple 3 or more 8
dolls, dishes, and costumes
Equipment and Materials (continued)
Consider: Indoor Air Quality
The indoor air children
About contrasts… • Floor surface: carpet, tile, wood breathe affects their health and
• Outside surface: pavement, development. To quote Anita Rui
Anita Olds (2000) suggests grass, bare earth, etc. Olds’ Child Care Design Guide:
that variety in the following six • Walls, fences, windows, “Unlike in the past, when wind
contrasts simulate the choices dividers, screens, shelving was relied upon to bring fresh
nature gives a child. • Ceiling, roofs, trees, canopies air into buildings, and leaky
hung from ceilings building envelopes allowed
• In/Out: the contrast between indoor pollutants to move out
indoors and outdoors (accented
by windows, porches, fences, Guiding Environments doors, today’s buildings have
become more tightly sealed, and
transition areas) Areas in a room can be designed mechanical cooling and heating
• Up/Down: varying heights of to convey their possibilities systems are common in all climate
floor and ceiling (steps, ramps, and limits. This helps children zones. At the same time, thousands
lofts) understand what activity is of new materials and products
• Light/Dark: bright areas and appropriate in that area. They can used as goods, finishes and
dimmer corners (lattices, move from place to place without furnishings have increased sources
screens, curtains, awnings, a lot of instruction. Choice of of interior pollution. Indoor
shadows) activity is empowering! air quality depends upon the
• Exposed/Tempered: wet and absence of pollutant, the power of
dry, hot and cold, windblown Studies show that the
arrangement of materials ventilation systems to pump fresh
and still (porch, garden wall,
and equipment has an effect air indoors, and the power of filters
on how they are used. Nash to remove polluting substances.
• Something/Nothing: the contrast The choice of ventilation system
between a wall and a window, (1981) observed that materials
and equipment stored close will affect children’s current
empty or cluttered space (win-
to each other are often used and future respiratory health
dow seat, arches, alcoves, corners)
together. Teets (1995) found that and their environmental and
• Order/Mystery: the contrast chemical sensitivity. ...Avoid using
between order and chaos, pre- when materials are displayed
systematically, children can see materials that off-gas volatile
dictability and surprise (partially
how the materials are categorized organic compounds into the air,
concealed entrances, winding
and make much better use particularly formaldehyde-based
paths, possibilities for discovery)
of them. The arrangement of finishes, adhesives, carpeting and
equipment supports learning and particleboard.”
self-reliance without continuous To provide the best protection for
teacher intervention. children, Community Playthings
furniture is now certified to the
Indoor Advantage Gold standard;
one of the toughest certifications
for indoor emissions and so far,
the only human health-based
standard for indoor air quality.
Guide to Space Planning
The fixed features of a building can constrain its and shelving. Consider, too, features like electrical
interior design. Where possible, the fixed features outlets, plumbing, floor surfacing, and lighting,
should be kept to a minimum to allow for greater including all-important natural light from windows.
flexibility. For example, try to keep to the minimum Once the room is created, here is a step-by-step
of two doors per room and avoid built-in partitions guide on how to lay it out.
1. Make an overall room plan.
Carp et Li ne
• Draw the basic shape of the room, to
scale, on graph paper.
• Mark in all the fixed features: windows,
doors, sinks, and floor surfacing.
2. Mark in the flow.
Carp et Li ne
• Paths must have direct access to all areas
• Main flow goes from the entry door to
all other doors, exits, bathrooms, and
storage closets, with one path going into
the center of the room.
3. Locate and circle the
• This will help you reserve prime space
for quiet activities such as reading.
• Farthest from the entry door.
• No doors or flow-paths going through.
4. Divide into Wet and Dry
Carp et Li ne
zo ne • Wet Region: Apply the “3F” rule to
entry determine the wet region: flow, flooring,
and fixed plumbing (sinks and toilets).
• Dry Region: Should contain at least one
protected corner and can be carpeted.
messy zone 5. Divide into Zones.
quiet • Entry Zone
Yar d • Messy Zone
• Active Zone
• Quiet Zone
• Don’t forget the Outdoor Zone
Entry/ Quiet Zone Messy Zone Active Zone Outdoor Zone Additional
Transition Zone Spaces
Children’s personal Sleeping/resting Toileting or changing Large blocks Imaginative play Large group meeting
Staff personal storage Reading Eating/snack Dramatic play Building & construction Private
Parent sign-in & Listening Water Housekeeping Physical activity & Staff work area &
communication movement telephone
Manipulatives Sand Doll play Small motor activity Staff project storage
Writing Clay Miniatures Horticultural work
Small blocks Painting Puppet play & Scientific and
store front environmental discovery
Maths Art/Woodworking Music & movement Quiet play
Cooking, science, Gross motor play
nature, & pets
6. Decide what activity areas
are needed and locate them
in the appropriate zone.
Guide to Space Planning (continued)
1 squa re = 1 ft.square
C orr idor
7. Create a space for
F 00 Bulleti Pan el [24H]
A724 We l ome Cub bies8 [48H]
F6 81 Tote She l [24
F 45 F ixed Shelf [3 2 1/16H]
To il t
A735Co rner Be
This space includes storage
A723 We l o m Cub bies6 [48H]
A735Co rner Ben
Wall Mo unte Sink
T oilets F7 56Post F7 56 Post
A73 Co rner Bench
te f H]
F6 82 T o She l [24
for items used in that area. It
c ub 8H]
A723We l o me C bies 6 [4
Wa Mo unted Sink
k C361 Sto ve
F6 85T ote She f [32H]
and limitations. For example,
C363 Refrige rat r
To il t
C2 Tab le
F7 29 Wing st
F7 56 Po
a space with little cozy nooks
D130 DollHigh Chair
F6 12 F ixedShelf [1 6H]
C364 Cupbo ard
indo w Pa n
A951 M ultTa ble
A738 Wal Peg s 8 J712 J710
communicates, “Here is a place
F7 43 W
A951M ultiTa ble
for quiet play.” An arch across
L31 0 Model 2 Star t r Kit [8 7 1/16H]
A951 M ultiT ble
F7 56 Po
F7 29 Wing
H520 Junior Ar t Island D12
J J710 J712 shcart
the entry tells you, “Leave
Science/Discovery your tricycle outside, you are
705 Dress-U Unit
A627 SAND & W ERCENTER
F7 54 Post
entering a protected space.”
F7 74 Displa It-All withClear Pa ne
F6 86 T oteShe l [32H]
A919 T ra p[22 1/16H]
F7 76Lib rary Shelf [48 3 /8H]
A951 MultiTa ble
F671 Cor ner S elf [16H]
F613 F ixed Shelf [1 6H]
Arnold, A. 1940. The Place of ‘Hort’ in the Life of Hutt, S. et al. 1989. Play, Exploration and Learning: A
Bruderhof Children, Bruderhof Curriculum Natural History of the Preschool, London: Routledge
Arnold, E. 1976. Children’s Education in Community, Kritchevsky, S. & Prescott, E. & Walling, L.
Bruderhof Curriculum 1977. Planning Environments for Young Children,
Arnold, J.C. 2000. Endangered: Your Child in a Hostile Physical Space, NAEYC
World, Plough Publishing House Lasenby, M. 1990. The Early Years: A Curriculum for
Bates, B. 1996. Like Rats in a Rage, The Times Young Children. Outdoor Play, London: Harcourt
Education Supplement, Sept 20th Brace Jovanovich
Chizea, C., Henderson, A. & Jones, G. Inclusion, PLA Moyles, J. 1992. Just Playing?, Open University Press
Dudek, M. 2001. Building for Young Children, National Nash, B. 1981. British Journal of Educational
Early Years Network Psychology: “The Effects of Classroom Spatial
Organization on Four- and Five-year-old Children’s
Edgington, M. 1999. The Nursery Teacher in Action,
(2nd ed.) London: Paul Chapman Publishing
Olds, A. 2000. Child Care Design Guide, McGraw-Hill
Edwards et al. 1993. The Hundred Languages of
Children-The Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Ouvry, M. 2000. Exercising Muscles and Minds,
Childhood Education, Norwood, NJ: Ablex National Early Years Network
Fuller, B. Letter to Children of Earth quoted in Stone, J. 1991. A Guide to Discipline, NAEYC
Greenman, J. 2005. Caring Spaces, Learning Places, Teets, S.T. 1985. ‘Modifications of play behaviors
Exchange Press Inc. of preschool children through manipulation
Greenman, J. 2005. Caring Spaces, Learning Places, of environmental variables’, in Frost, J.L.
Exchange Press Inc. and Sunderlin, S. (eds) When Children Play.
Gura, P. 1992. Exploring Learning, London: Paul Proceedings of the International Conference
Chapman Publishing on Play and Play Environments, Wheaton,
MD: Association for Childhood Education
Hodgson Burnett, F. 1911. The Secret Garden, The
Phillips Publishing Co.
Whitehorn, K. quoted in Greenman, J. 1988. Caring
Hutt, C. 1972. Males and Females, Harmondsworth:
Spaces, Learning Places, Exchange Press Inc.
Additional Sources for
Early Learning Environments That Work,
Isbell, R. & Exelby, B. 2001. Gryphon House, Inc
Designs for Living and Learning,
Curtis, D. & Carter, M. 2003. Redleaf Press
Planning Environments for Young Children,
Kritchevsky, S. & Prescott, E. & Walling, L. 1977.
Physical Space, NAEYC
Caring Spaces, Child Care
Learning Places: Design Guide
Children’s Environments Helps architects understand
That Work the needs of children and design
A guide for directors, trainers, rich centers. Helps child care
professors and their students, architects—everyone involved professionals understand architects’ design issues. Author
in the world of quality childcare. Jim Greenman’s writings have Anita Rui Olds brings to this work over 25 years of design
always been a strong voice on behalf of children and their experience with children’s facilities. She gives you step-by-
unique needs in a rapidly changing world. With this new edition step explanations of interior and exterior layout and design
of a time-tested volume, Greenman adds apt new insights on principles. Her guide includes over 300 floor plans for infant,
today’s issues and addresses everything from site and building toddler, preschool, and after-school spaces, plus areas for
evaluation to what goes on in a baby’s brain. outdoor play and more.
Jim Greenman, 2005, Exchange Press, Inc. Anita Rui Olds, 2000. McGraw-Hill,
352 pages $54, Order directly by calling Community Playthings.
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Design for a valuable articles on
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makes solid maple furniture quality classroom.
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into a space of beauty, simplicity, and stability, Design your own infant or toddler room
• Block Play
where they can explore, discover and learn with these guidelines for developmentally
• Celebrating Culture
through play. appropriate space.
• Environmental Education
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