When setting up your early years classroom environment there are three areas that should be considered before you think about others. Teachers can often go overboard on the different areas in a classroom including things like a math, literacy, STEM areas etc. For many 'space' can always be an issue. So before you start unpacking your laminated phonics cards, math laminate center games and STEM challenge materials consider three spaces that is full of learning potential..
The Three Pillars are the Block Play, Role Play and Art Play areas. What these three pillars hold up is open ended child directed play. These areas, when used holistically, support children in making choices, creativity, problem solving, social development, physical development and many more.
For a deeper dive into the benefits of each area click the block, role play and art play links below to view our infograph overview of each pillar.
One reason why these three areas should be considered before others is they encompass a wide and deep variety of learning possibilities through play. In fact, each area supports the other. For example, children in the block areas often engage in role play or the creation of stories. Children may need to build things for their role play and they may also want to draw or paint their block building creations (see picture examples below).
Each of the three pillars should be predominately child directed not teacher teacher directed. This doesn't mean teachers shouldn't invite or plan activities based on observations and theories of child interests. It does mean these areas shouldn't be controlled by adult directed learning outcomes. For example, "today in the art area we are going to make a paper plate turtle" "In the block area I want you to make a zoo", "in the role play area we are going to practice Little Red Riding Hood". These three areas are also are very adaptable to both inside and outdoor environments.
Before you start worrying about English, Math, STEM or even your thematic topic areas start off by focusing on how the three pillars are set up, stocked and ready for children to play, learn and grow.