During this time, I have set out numerous activities in all areas of the classroom. The students are also able to put the suggested activity away and take something from the shelf that interests them.

In the math area, I often put out math games, geometry puzzles and sorting activities. We have a multitude of other activities available on the math shelf as well such as weaving, magnets, and math cards.

In the writing area, there may be a word game or special gel paper and pens as well as the large white board for writing and letter magnets. Here there are also many options on the shelf such as pencils, colored pencils and pens (we only have markers in the studio on purpose,) there are also many different kinds of paper, writing/reading games, dictionaries (they love looking “the word of the day” up in the dictionary.)

In the science area, I usually rotate this weekly, we have had a sea star/shell investigation, a butterfly specimen investigation and now we have dinosaur bones with books and information. This area is also were we work from when we have our science experiments and it has our beloved vinegar and baking soda and other supplies.

The block area has many wooden blocks to choose from, small Legos, a basket of animals, cars, a wooden building set that has the capabilities of making things with wheels, as well as other random building materials I find out in the world and bring in.

The dress-up and kitchen area have a complete kitchen set, wooden food, a ceramic tea set, food boxes that I have collected from my house, clothes to dress-up in, hats, umbrellas, scarves and a large mirror. This is our imaginative play area and many of the kids like to dress up and pretend that they can’t find themselves anywhere – Jackson is often Pierre’, Jackson’s bother from Paris.

The “living room,” story area, is used during this time for listening to books on tape, reading books alone and to each other, gathering on the couches to chat, playing records and sometimes the math or writing manipulatives are brought to the living room rug for further floor exploration.

We also have a recycling construction area in the classroom that has buckets of recyclable materials such as paper rolls, thread and needles, ribbon, boxes, natural items such as pinecones, rocks, sticks, beeswax. This area also has tape, scissors, glue, hole punches and anything we might possibly use to create any type of table top construction project.

The art studio has many projects throughout this time. The shelves are lined with all types of craft items including paint. There is an easel but painting can also be used on the tables. We have play dough, clay, beads, stickers, cutting, writing, and gluing materials available. I usually set up a specific art project during open studio time but again the students are welcome to work from the shelves as well.

This time also incorporates snack time (where everyone comes to the table together and then we go out to the big yard where we have the climber, the bikes, the animals and the garden (the classroom is also available during this time.)

During this time, we also do our classroom jobs which include, taking care of the bunnies and guinea pigs, the fish, the stick bugs, and the plants. Other jobs include the calendar, number of the day and what is available in the classroom (we do these at morning meeting.)

This open classroom/studio and big yard time is the students time to do what they wish. It is two hours of personal investigation, exploration and cooperation. They can do anything they want as long at it is safe and doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s work. This is the heart of our program. Kids are discovering their interests. Their interests are also changing with age. Many times a student will spend an hour working on one self-directed project. They never tire of this time of the day and they are always engaged and eager to delve into their own math, science, writing and art projects.