Creating affirming environments invites families to take part in the care and well being of their children. The setting provides areas for structured and creative play, rest areas, kitchen and dining area, quiet areas, and an area specifically for arrival/dismissal. More important that the dedicated areas are the materials and the visual affects that the classroom supplies support.
In Gremi’s Garden you will be sure to find that crayons, washable markers, pencils, note pads, construction paper, skin tone colored paper and crayons, and an assortment of fabric dolls and books reflective of diversity. On the wall in the reading area there are shelves and tables where parents can share important, significant to the family, or cultural things about themselves and their heritage. There are chairs, couches, and various types of seating for the family members, as they too are considered. The quiet room has a few plush animal pillows, books, a loveseat and a rug area. This room is designed as a safe zone for children who are having difficulties with family leaving, or for children who may need a little time to themselves. It is also a space where children can rest if they are not feeling well.
The welcome/dismissal area is a working garden that is part of the curriculum, where families are encouraged to build a family box garden. There are designated cubbies for the children, and above it a message board where parents can leave messages or draw a picture for their child, and where we can write reminder notes, birthdays can be acknowledged, and news can be shared.
In the center wall there is a crafted oak tree where families are invited to share pictures, and where pictures taken during class are posted. Family pictures through out help the children to see familiar things in unfamiliar places, and serves to better connect the child to the environment. The color palate and décor are in tune with the garden with vivid colors and a variety of textures. The activity room is the largest area equipped with puzzles, books, memory games, and other sensory objects that reflect neutral or non-gendered identity, and support varying abilities. The visuals in this room are collages of diverse families gardening all over the world, collages of our class in gardening, and photos from other activities. Free play corner focuses on self-discovery. In this area there are books about different professions and gender-neutral hats. Nature shaped mirrors are available for holding and are also mounted. Diverse fabric dolls with various styles of clothing, playdough with a variety of themed accessories, picture books, and poster cards of different places in the world, and a rug with a map of the U.S on it.