All Around the Classroom
Here are some ways to introduce opportunities for relaxation, stress reduction, and physical fitness in your classroom learning centers:
Create a space for one child only upon which others may not intrude. Cozy and comfortable, it can be a large painted cardboard box, a cloth-screened corner, a tent, or a behind-thefurniture nook. Include age-appropriate books on health and nutrition as well as soothing stories (see Resources).
Provide plenty of opportunity for children to work with soothing water colors. Play clay offers lots of fine motor skill development without complaint from children! Always have an easel at the ready for children to use to express an idea that cannot be verbalized or enacted.
Long strings and plentiful beads offer a repetitive, soothing activity. Nesting figures and boxes give children the opportunity to order "disordered" feelings. Wooden puzzles feel good in children's hands, and, when completed, turn out "right" (unlike some social encounters). Magnets act predictably and interestingly. A box of feathers is soft and soothing.
Warm water and bubbles feel and smell pleasant. A wire whisk and a baster can stir up additional bubbles! Washing doll clothes uses energy and contributes to a sense of being helpful and useful.
On certain days, allow water in the sand table for beach-like play, molding, patting and shaping.
An abundant supply of blocks, well organized on shelves, and sufficient floor space for building is the foundation for harmony in the block center. In addition, peace is created by allowing enough time for children to build a complex structure or compound. Accessories such as vehicles and figures add interest. Taking digital photographs of children's creations adds to the satisfaction of the experience.
DRAMATIC PLAY AREA
Set up a play store for "healthy shopping" play. Provide real items if possible. Cook with the perishables and donate the unused dry and canned items to a shelter.
Use colored tape on your classroom floor or outdoor play space to create balance lines, hopscotch, and jumping "islands."
Add a ficus tree in a light corner. Children's minds and spirits are calmed by natural settings and objects. Tack a string of tiny white lights on the ceiling above-and you have a wooded scene with twinkling night-sky stars above!