Creating a Movable Classroom – Without a Budget!

Combining a hands-on approach to learning with activities that encourage independent problem solving turns school into a place that fosters creativity, life skills, social skills, and health and brain empowerment. Through “tinkering” and designing, students are able to identify problems, research possible solutions, test a hypothesis, and eventually apply what they’ve learned to a real-world situation.

Using a similar approach to that of architects or engineers—building, rearranging objects, and graphing a design—students can put learning into their own hands. Not only does this type of free creativity build brain development, but it also helps students retain information because they are learning in an interesting way.

Even though a design approach (or a tinkering method) is beneficial on many different levels (this includes special education kids as well as students in traditional classrooms), schools aren’t always equipped for the activities that support this type of learning. Schools can create movable classroom spaces that play-up creative thought, inspire imagination, and allow students to better interact with one another.

How? Ideally, every school would have the budget to implement the changes need to make movable classrooms. This isn’t the case in most public schools. However there are ways that you can re-design your classroom/school without spending money that you don’t have.

  1. Designate one ‘design’ or ‘tinkering’ space in the school. Instead of adding a creative problem-solving lab space in each room, pick one space that all classes/grades can share. Not only is this a budget-friendly idea, but it also increases social interactions. Teachers can reserve the space at different times, and children from multiple ages and groups can get together to solve problems and share their experiences.
  2. Make the classroom move—literally! Choosing wheeled-furniture or adding wheels to your existing fixtures allows your students to rearrange the room for different types of projects. In the special education setting, this type of movement can also better help to accommodate students with special needs. Think wheels and casters; simple things like this really allow flexibility around any given room!
  3. Use those unused spaces. Does your school have areas or rooms that are perfectly safe for students, but aren’t being used for anything in particular? Make this space your movable classroom, bringing in furniture that can roll from space to another.
  4. Allow the spaces to move with the project at hand. Let the students design their own space with the movable parts that you provide. This allows them to tailor the room to a project’s needs. If the students don’t need a bookshelf, it can go. If they need a large table to work around, they can roll it into the center of the space. This pushes the students to broaden their understanding of a workspace and use their creativity skills as designers.
  5. Put the school community to use. Send out an email or talk directly to the families, asking for donations and help. Perhaps parents can bring in old furniture or items to tinker with (such as scrap wood or tools). Don’t limit the donations to ‘things’—parents may want to volunteer as well. A knowledgeable parent can teach students how to safely and accurately use tools or help the students to move the space around.
  6. Put the process of space-creation into your curriculum. Your students aren’t just problem solving or ‘creating’ when they step into a project like this. The creating a moveable space is a way to teach non-academic life skills. Encourage the students to brainstorm ways to design a movable space.

This includes researching the topic, testing ideas and planning.

Re-designing your school or classroom to include movable spaces puts learning in a whole new light, even if it’s on a budget! It allows students to think creatively, work together (building valuable social skills) and develop life skills in ways that worksheets and lectures cannot.

A movable classroom can be particularly beneficial to special education students. Often, students with special needs either have limited mobility or may require extra time for movement. Arranging furniture and creating a new environment can engage special education students in a way that other activities cannot.

Images from Pine Hill Waldorf School

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