The kindergarten that turned into a workshop

Once upon a time, there was a school building full of classrooms, and these classrooms had all sorts of supplies for those who wanted to get creative, but there was a mystery that needed to be solved. How were the children going to be able to access the tools they needed in order to turn dreams into tangible masterpieces?

Paint, crayons, glue, tape, scales, rulers, seeds, tiles, magnets, twigs, pine cones, egg cartons, scrap cardboard and paper, fabric, bowls, trays, ropes, strings, recycled jars, bottles, pens, clay, sculpting tools, screw drivers, sequins, beads, yarn, books, flash lights… name so many more; where did they live and why were the kids not able to see the supplies that they needed.

So many options to choose from, yet what’s the use of having all this clutter locked inside cupboards when it’s time to get to work? When building a new mud house, would the kids be able to name the tools they need without even knowing what they look like and without wondering what they would be able to do with them? What happened to the idea of having creativity and freedom roaming in the nest?

These questions started to summon one idea after another. Having a storage system where tools and supplies were only accessible by teachers was against the child lead approach. Immediately a bigger problem had to take place. Every single item in the building was gathered to the school yard. Every single shelf, container, bookcase, cupboard, cabinet was emptied and once again our best friend chaos appeared in all its glory, hungry for big solutions for big problems.

The first step was to lay out every single item in the patio and play a game of sorting. The aim was to avoid inventing labels even before we knew what we had. The items sorted themselves as their image reminded what their use was. In the end of this game there were six groups of objects screaming the names of their interrelated groups:

Math and science,
Natural and raw materials,
Art and crafts,
Music and movement
And Sports,

And we were extremely lucky to have just the right amount of storage space for all these things: The classrooms! The rooms were emptied one by one, along with the children for the last time just to move everything back into their new homes. But first the kids had to measure and see how much space is needed for our open- shelf system. The only barrier that was between the kids and the supplies was the straps that kept objects in place to prevent them from falling off the shelves. A visual and tactile casing system where no obstacle would stand in front of curiosity, inventiveness, and the freedom to imagine.

By İlkim Ayse Mükan
EBI Teacher