Welcome to GVI Fiji's Community Development Programme blog. Here you can keep up to date with our projects in Fiji.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Renovating Class 1 and 2

The classrooms at RMMS are dark, dull and worn-out.  Once the pupils have all gone home and the classrooms are left empty, it’s hard to believe they are used by children at all. As a result we are aiming to renovate all the classrooms at RMMS to make them a more child-friendly and stimulating learning environment for the pupils. In May we made a start on this project by renovating Class 1 and 2. Our objective when designing these classrooms was to build an environment which encouraged the development of communicative, social, creative and decision making skills for pupils aged 5-7.

To achieve this objective we created areas in both classrooms which are designed to facilitate open-ended play. For these unconventional learning areas we selected resources and materials which are flexible and can be moved around easily. This gives the children an opportunity to use their imagination to design their own play. There were two distinct themes used when designing these areas, firstly we wanted to enable pupils to participate in dramatic play and secondly, to encourage creative design through construction.
Class 2 dress up
 Dramatic play is when children use props to role play what they see and understand from the world around them. As shown in the image below, we built the ‘Home Corner’ in Class 1 which is a collection of kitchen utensils and home appliances. Both classes have also been given a selection of dress-up clothes including ties, hats, hand bags and scarves. These are all props that the pupils recognise from their surroundings and the ‘adult world’.  Since introducing these, pupils have been using the props to act out various familiar scenarios such as hosting imaginary tea parties and making a pretend shop. As well as encouraging the pupils to use their imagination, it also teaches them to play together in a group environment which helps develop communicative and social skills.
Class 1 Home Corner

Class 1 Kava Ceremony
 The second initiative is to provide construction based activities which give the pupils the opportunity to experiment with materials and textures by combining and rearranging them to build their own designs. This differs from normal arts and craft lessons because there are no guidelines, instead the pupils are encouraged to create whatever they like from the material they are presented with. In Class 1 there are a variety of building blocks, as well as ‘treasures’ in the form of artificial flowers and butterflies for the pupils rearrange to make their creations. Class 2 have an ‘invention centre’ which consists of a collection of recycled materials and a tool box of connecting supplies such as tape, lollypop sticks, cotton wool and glue. Pupils in both classes have been seen aligning and rearranging their materials to make patterns and shapes, as well as constructing familiar objects such as boats, houses and nests. Overall these materials encourage exploration and invention in the classroom which was previously rare.
Class 2 Invention Centre
Vilise's boat

Also by increasing the number of activities in the classroom we are able to present pupils with a choice during playtime.  This is a concept that was previously absent in the class 1 and 2, instead everyone would participate in the same activity. Now pupils are given choice of which activity they would like to join in, thereby developing decision-making skill.
Class 1 before
Class 1 after
Class 2 before
Class 2 after
 In addition to the construction and dramatic play areas of the classrooms we have also made general improvements. We injected some colour with a coat of paint and improved the visual displays by replacing tatty posters with new, colourful and easy to read educational material which is more relevant to their current learning. Class 2 also have a ‘Class Management area’ which includes class rules, a visual timetable and a space where pupils help set the date, day, month and weather each morning. In Class 1 we turned an old unused blackboard into an area where pupils can be creative and also practice pen control.

Class 1 Chalkboard
Class 2 Class Management area
Overall we are satisfied that we achieved our objectives and the teachers in both classes are delighted with the results. But by far the most impressed are the pupils who now have a fun and exciting classroom to learn in.  Now we just have Class 3 to 8 to complete by the end of the year. Last week we made a start transforming Class 3 with an under-the-sea theme and we will post pictures shortly.