Something exciting has been added to Resurrection Catholic Elementary School – a Wonder Room!
This new room is the brainchild of teacher Barbara Colville who has taught for over 40 years and has been at RCES since 1993. She teaches kindergarten now but has also taught first grade. Being in a self-contained classroom, she teaches all subjects.
But one “subject” she’s wanted to teach for years has been the subject of wonder, and she felt that the best way to do that would be to create a room of wonder.
Since this was the first year there was an empty classroom at the school she thought it was the ideal time to incorporate her vision of a wonder room — a place for children to learn.
“I’m a firm believer in purposeful play for all children. We put so much emphasis on academics that children don’t get as much time to play. Play helps students reach standards and goals in ways that traditional instruction cannot,” Colville said.
Once she had approval from the principal it didn’t take long to get the room set up. However, the room will never be completely finished as the learning centers will change throughout the year.
There are centers for Home Living, Blocks, Creativity (art), Writing, Technology, Science, Dramatic Play, Sensory and Construction, Math, Around the World (Social Studies), and Cooking. Some of the centers will stay the same but others will be changed out to coordinate with specific topics they are studying and for the different times of the year.
“I’m hoping by offering a variety of things that all children will find something they are interested in. Each center will also help reinforce skills that we are learning in the classroom,” Colville said.
When they started learning about seasons, the Science center incorporated fall activities — the art center had an art project, the Block center had fall items (pine cones, leaves, etc.), the Cooking center made apple pies, and the Dramatic Play center featured an apple orchard.
“This room just extends our learning that takes place in the regular classroom. It also gives them a choice,” Colville said. Not every student will be interested in cooking or building or creating. Just like all adults don’t want to do the same thing all the time, neither do children.”
And it’s not just Colville who will have final say as to what goes in the room.
“I’m also watching and listening to the children about what they like and what they want in there,” she explained.
The Wonder Room gives the children a place to explore, create, and experiment. Before the creation of this room, Colville would set up one dramatic play center in her room each month. This new space allows the children to explore many different centers and to make their own choices.
“I do not tell them what center to go to,” she said. “They can go to the same center each time or they can explore different centers.”
In the centers, the children are learning how to play cooperatively, develop communication skills and enhance their imagination.
“We still do the traditional learning in my classroom – small group instruction, literacy centers, direct instruction, etc. This just gives the students another outlet. Even though they are playing, they are learning at the same time.”
Colville hopes that by utilizing this room that students develop a love for learning.
“Learning does not always come from a textbook. I know the children will learn so much from this room.”
On the first day of school, she told the children that she was creating a special place for them but it wasn’t ready yet. She let them peek into the room. It looked like a storage room so they weren’t that impressed. Afterwards, she wouldn’t let them go to the room. When she felt that the room was ready they held a ribbon cutting complete with a bow on the door and large ribbon-cutting scissors.
They were so excited when they entered the room. She heard many of the students say “it was the best day ever.”
That’s what she wants school and this room to be for them – the “best day ever” every single day.
But she also wants them to know that it’s not a free-for-all place to go. There are rules and if they break the rules they won’t get to use the room.
As of now, the students use the room twice a week for about 60-90 minutes. The Wonder Room is available for all grades, and an assistant, Julie Fiveash, helps Colville interact with the children.
Colville is appreciative of those who helped turn her dream room into a reality – everyone from staff members to the parents who sent in donations. Many of the parents haven’t even seen the room but they have gotten quite an earful from their children about what a fun place the room is.
She has big plans for the room and is always thinking about what to put in it. Even though it may be extra work on top of her daily teaching, she doesn’t mind because this is something she is passionate about.
The room needed a catchy name so Colville asked for suggestions on a teacher Facebook group. Someone suggested the name “Wonder Room.”
And what is extra-special about that name is that each letter in the word “wonder” stands for something:
And that is exactly what Colville wants to happen in that room – for children to grow, to solve, to think, to dream, to create, and to be inspired.