Flexible Spaces And Open Ended Materials Are Key
While it is true that children need consistency and predictability, they also need spaces designed with flexible options, so that things can be moved and rearranged for specific purposes and I feel this is key to creating an effective open-ended play environment. Too often, once a room arrangement has been set up, it rarely changes and children are discouraged from taking things from one area to another, or playing with materials in different ways. This not only limits children’s creativity, but it can also inhibit what benefits they can derive from their play.
The guiding principle is to ensure that there are many ways in which both adults and children can use the space and materials. Your selections and arrangements should encourage children to pursue their interests and questions, represent what is on their minds, build strong relationships and a love of learning. Offering open-ended materials in a variety of areas will spark children’s imaginations and speak to their desire to continually rearrange and combine materials for exploration and inventions.
A flexible environment offers lots of opportunities for change and control; and the greater the flexibility of the environment, the increased opportunities for children to develop a flexibility of thinking and adaptability, which just keeps being built upon. Adding loose parts creates the ultimate flexible environment.
Here are some photos of some of the areas within our provision. You will notice that they are quite open in terms of what they can be used for, and that the wealth of versatile resources allows for areas to be used however children used as they are not rigidly defined.