Early childhood centres in New Zealand tend to have quite similar spatial arrangements - usually consisting of a large play room/s with various activity areas for children and an open flow directly from the playroom to a single outdoor area.
In this article we show, with photographs, a different design and approach to using space for supporting small group and project work.
The design comes from a bilingual kindergarten, called a 'Kita' in Hamburg, Germany. The photographs were taken, by Sarah Alexander of ChildForum, during a guided tour of the facility for international early childhood experts in September 2012.
The centre design was based on the idea of a workshop to help children develop self-determination and creativity.
It has a circular shape, similar to a doughnut, with a circular corridor defined by glass windows and doors leading to a central outdoor playarea in the middle.
A second, larger, outdoor play area is beside the building and has been designed to be close to nature.
There are some fixed times of the day when group time, also called circle time, is organised.
At other times children choose a card which depicts a project or an activity and go to the room where that activity or project is available. An educator and teaching assistant work with children on the activities or projects they choose.
At this centre there is a library.
There is also a quiet room for children to retreat to.
A construction room has tools, woodwork tables and lots of resources for the educators and children to use when making real constructions.
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