As the weather gets warmer and children "hear the call of the outdoors," here are some ideas for keeping things calm indoors.
1 Provide manageable materials. Limit the number of items on shelves, rotating them by themes, times of year, and levels of difficulty. Make it simple for children to select materials by storing them on the shelves or trays or in clear containers.
2 Mark the spot! Take pictures of the materials to create visual labels so children can pick up clutter and return things to their proper places.
3 Ease the way for play. Provide child-size furniture for comfort and pleasant interactions. Offer duplicates of popular equipment.
4 Surround them in softness. Use "snuggle stuff"--cozy cushions, squishy beanbag chairs-to sink into and quietly share a book with a friend. Decorate with sound-absorbing materials such as a braided rug for your group-time spot.
5 Choose calming colors. For less active, quieter areas that lend themselves to napping, eating, or reading, try light blue walls. Light green helps children feel peaceful and refreshed. Try these relaxing colors for your infants' crib sheets too.
6 Select soothing touches. Use soft lighting instead of harsh overhead fluorescent lights. Pretty plants and gurgling aquariums add tranquility to the classroom and create interesting learning opportunities.
7 Offer relaxing activities. Play soft music to provide a pleasant welcome upon entry to the room. Add some filmy scarves so children can float and twirl to gentle musical strains. Put out tubs of sand and water for soothing tactile experiences.
8 Plan peaceful places. With a big box and pillows, make a cozy quiet place for two children to sit and talk. Create a darkened, tranquil spot for napping and cuddling with stuffed animals or soft blankets.
9 Wiggle their sillies out! Encourage children to stamp their feet to shake the sand off their shoes. Let children give a last "shout" before changing over to quieter "indoor voices."
10 Help children cooperate calmly. Ask them to choose a special buddy to help with class chores. Or, list their names on a "helper chart" so they can smoothly handle responsibilities.