Criteria for Choosing Items for Children's Use
As a teacher, picking out new items for your classroom is always exciting (and a little nerve wracking). You want to find items that not only do children love using but that are also educational and developmentally appropriate. Realistically, not every item you pick for your classroom will be an instant hit with the children in your care, but selecting the right items for your classroom can have a positive effect on the overall learning environment.
There are a variety of factors you should consider when picking out items for the children in your care to use–safety, cost, and durability are just three examples. Use the following list of criteria for choosing items for children's use from Early Learning Environments That Work to ensure that you pick safe and engaging items for students to use:
- Items should be attractive to children and pleasing to the eye and touch.Children love color and items that support multisensory play and learning. Items that meet this criterion will capture children's attention and will also be a great addition to the look and feel of your classroom.
- Items should retain children's interest.Once items capture children's attention, it's also important that they are able to retain children's interest over time. Are the items you're considering likely to be played with or used once and then be disregarded? Or will they likely be used continuously? Remember to choose items that are developmentally appropriate and support children's learning.
- Items should have multiple or open-ended uses.Having multiple or open-ended uses is one way items can retain children's interest. K'Motion Stools and Magna-Tiles® are both great examples of items that can be used in various ways to encourage learning in the classroom.
- Items should be sturdy and durable.To ensure safety in the classroom, the items you select for children to use should be sturdy and durable. Do the items you're considering look flimsy or are they made of flimsy material? Do the items look like they are able to withstand constant use?
- Items should be washable or easy to clean.Accidents and messes are bound to happen in the classroom, so items that are washable and easy to clean will make your life easier and will also be easier on your budget since they likely won't have to be replaced if something is spilled on them.
- Items should have a good design.How items are designed will impact a lot of the other criteria included in this list. If an item doesn't have a good design, it won't capture or retain children's interest or be as durable or useful in the classroom.
- Items should be made from quality workmanship.Items made from quality workmanship will have a better design, will be more durable, and will be safer for children to use as they explore and learn in the classroom.
- Items should be safe for children to use.Safety should be of utmost concern when choosing items for children's use. Make sure the items you're considering are developmentally appropriate for the age group in your care and are not made by using any materials or paint that could harm children.
- Items should be cost effective.Items that meet the majority of or all of the criteria included in this list will probably be more expensive than their counterparts. Remember, paying a little more for quality items can be more cost effective in the long term than purchasing cheaper items that will not be as useful and will likely need to be replaced sooner rather than later.
Whether you're a first year teacher picking out items for your new teaching space or a veteran teacher looking for a few new items to spruce up your classroom, Kaplan has thousands of high-quality items that can promote learning in your classroom. Be sure to browse the rest of our website for ideas of what you can add in your classroom next.