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What are those little boxes in my child’s classroom?

Blog Type:  Preschool
Date Posted:  Sunday, February 9, 2020

In each classroom from PS to K, there are boxes set up on some shelves. In some classes, the boxes are small and in some classes they are big. In some classes the boxes are white and in some others they are light green. 

Those boxes go along with the pedagogical programming the teachers have put together for the year and they are in alignment with the French Program and the five learning areas of the French Program. The content is made of material present in almost all classes and teachers change it regularly, either once most of the children have mastered its content or at least once every six weeks.
 
The contents of the boxes are different, but they are all inspired by the same concept: to offer autonomous manipulation activities that allow students to develop their skills in a fun and motivating way in all areas. An autonomous activity is an activity that the students will carry out alone, without intervention of an adult. Autonomy will inform all the stages of the activity: its choice, its installation, the knowledge of the instructions, its realization, its validation (if there is one) and its clean-up.


 
The activities are organized by grade level from TPS to K, and are progressively based on where a child is developmentally. Some of the activities can be simplified for some children, or made more difficult if needed. They offer great opportunities to differentiate between the children’s growth.

Benefits of autonomous activities for the children

To have rich, playful and varied equipment: The material offered to the students is playful, varied and is essentially manipulative material.
 
To learn to work alone: To be able to carry out independent activities, students will have to memorize the instructions and understand how to use them and put away the equipment made available to them. Gradually, they will be able to correct their work themselves.
 
To learn to make a choice
: To work on an individual activity, each student will have to make a choice from the different activities on offer. Initially, the youngest will have difficulty choosing. The teacher will have to train them. Gradually, during the year, they will learn to choose activities on their own.
 
To organize their work: For each activity, the students must take out the material, use it wisely then put it away.  This requires students to first organize themselves in their workspace and then to work on its realization.
 
To progress at their own pace: One of the advantages of an individual activity is to allow the student to advance at his own pace and take the time necessary to complete an activity.
 
To learn to concentrate: If well designed, individual independent activities develop focus as they are generally echoed by the concerns of the students.
 
To respect rules: For the moments of autonomy to work, the students will have to respect rules: put away the equipment after use, whisper during the activities, go to the end of the activity.

To not compete with other students: As each activity is only offered in one copy, this allows students to take their time without looking at whether their classmates have completed the activity.
 
To improve and be proud of success: As the access to the activities is free, the students can carry them out as many times as they wish, which allows them to train as much as necessary until they succeed. They will then be proud of what they have accomplished.
 
To validate their work alone:The activities are mostly self-correcting, allowing students to see whether or not they have successfully completed the activity.
 
Not all activities can be done independently. Any activity requiring verbalization also requires the presence of the teacher. To be autonomous, the activity must be offered to students at exactly the right time: it must not be too easy or too difficult. It requires knowing where the students are in their learning and opting for a rigorous progression.