Critical Thinking Environments:
What key design principles can create a classroom that intrigues, invites and stimulates senses?
- How do design principles, when integrated, impact the overall feeling of a room?
- How do grounding design principles come to life to impact learning?
The following are seven principles that epitomizes critical thinking environments as asserted by a group of authors DeViney et al in the book Inspiring Spaces for Young Children.
Principle 1: Nature Inspires Beauty
Learning spaces should reflect the wonders of nature that surround you. As students interact with nature, they deepen their understanding and appreciation of their places and roles as caretakers of the planet.
What local natural elements are culturally significant to incorporate in your classroom(s)?
Principle 2: Color Generates Interest
Color can be a powerful design principle both in positive and negative ways. Proper use of color can create a mood, define a space, and reflect student’s homes and communities. Used negatively, color can be overpowering, confusing, and over-stimulating. A neutral background for your classroom with a few well-chosen accent colors will create interest that is focused on the students and adults who inhabit the space.
How can the use of color be integrated into classroom thinking methods?
Principle 3: Furnishings Define Space [And Use Of Space]
Furnishings are used to identify classroom areas of purpose with structure. When these elements are authentic and sized and placed properly, students will increase in quality and depth.
How do we research and plan furnishings that reflect the image of the student (their frame of reference)?
Principle 4: Texture Adds Depth
Texture in the environment offers visual interest and depth and provides children with unique tactile experiences. As children interact with sensory elements, they sharpen their observational skills and fine motor abilities through the languages of weaving, sculptures and textiles.
Look around the room you are in: observe, write and draw things you notice that are three dimensional in texture.
Principle 5: Displays Enhance Environment
By eliminating clutter, arranging storage materials, and highlighting student’s work, the learning environment becomes a home of belief and belonging to honor all who occupy the space.
Reflective Question: How will you develop a system to understand organizing materials and the ideas to enhance the environment?
Principle 6: Elements Heighten Ambiance
Multiple sources of light create an ambiance of relaxation and contemplation. By using light in supportive ways, children are able to interact creatively with others and the environment.
How do you best access multiple sources of light?
Principle 7: Focal Points Attract Attention
When entering the classroom, a distinct focal point can highlight interactive learning centers, student’s work as an element and artifact. Focal points invite student’s to actively engage and participate in the environment.
Take an environmental walk with a colleague observing and writing elements that capture your attention and interest.