I am starting to lie awake in bed with visions of my classroom dancing through my head. I have been over the moon inspired by some recent reading, and I cannot stop imagining the changes and improvements I plan to make to the space. You should absolutely visit Sally’s brilliant blog, Fairy Dust Teaching. I love everything I read there, but her posts on the Reggio Emilia philosophy (a long time passion of mine) and the beautiful photos included, are reason enough for a visit. Here is a link to her Reggio Emilia posts. I have also been doing some reading about redesigning early childhood environments, and I am working on bringing more open ended materials for exploration, construction, and creation into my classroom.
The first step, though, is to gather materials for the transformation. I have goals of reworking my bulletin boards, birthday celebrations, art area, dramatic play area, and more. I will need new (or upcycled, recycled, and natural) materials to help with the transformation. Enter: The Scrap Box. This is a wonderful non profit organization in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It is an organized warehouse of materials. You know – those things that teachers tend to hoard and save. Whether it be paper towel rolls, carpet squares, shells, bits of mosaic, empty baby food jars – you name it. The concept is simple. The Scrap Box accepts and requests donations from the community. Anyone can donate, but they also have relationships with carpet companies, paint companies, builders, and other such stores. They receive the samples, scraps, and other remnants that otherwise go unused. They then organize and display these materials for sale.
You could even get carpet squares for one dollar each – what a deal!
The best part is, they sell these things by the bag full! I know I sound like an advertisement right now – I am not. I have no affiliation from the store. I am just excited! I was blown away by the supplies and prices, and I was so inspired while I was there. They have example art work, and they even let you make a creation for free while you are there, just for fun. (This was fabulous for my four year, who could not stop herself from gathering and designing while she watched me shop.)
I am still in the design process, so I cannot show you my newly done classroom yet. I do want to encourage you to search in your own area to see if there is a similar store. I have been to one in Detroit, and now Ann Arbor. If we have them, there must be others. You will surely find a multitude of materials and ideas, and it is all recycled! Happy creating.