Indoor Organisation: Documentation

I use photo documentation to support my reflections on indoor organisation and how it reflects the values I hold and the values of the children I teach.

We value space because of its power to organise, promote relationships, provide change, promote choices and activity, and its potential for sparking all kinds of social, affective and cognitive learning. All of this contributes to a sense of well-being and security in children.

Loris Malaguzzi
Indoor Organisation

It is so refreshing to see the move away from early childhood classrooms filled with primary colours, plastic and cookie-cutter visions of early childhood settings. The National Quality Standards stresses the importance of an orderly, safe environment that encompasses learning areas and materials that are culturally and developmentally appropriate. But let’s not fall into a “culture of compliance”!

Plan for miracles not minimums!

Anita Rui Olds, 1999

What values do you want your room to reflect?

As an early childhood educator I strive to create a welcoming, calming and home-like classroom. I am intentional and thoughtful about my choice of equipment and materials, and my indoor organisation. But I can only do this by thinking about what values I am communicating through my learning environment. If I value providing an indoor environment that comforts, heals and inspires children, does my room reflect this value?

There is a multitude of pin-worthy and insta-perfect environments that you can search for. But that is not what this post is about. Maybe you have tried to replicate these beautiful classrooms (I know I have!). Or maybe you have taken ideas from here and ideas from there (I’ve done that too!). But at the end of the day it is YOUR classroom and these are YOUR kids! My hope is to inspire your thinking about your environment and indoor organisation to move past barriers of space, time and money. You are creative and resourceful!

The ‘next’ step: Indoor Organisation

Being inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach is about the development of a community of learners and indoor organisation of materials and resources is a crucial part of this community. So, after the kids have been in the room for several weeks you may start to notice that there are parts of the classroom not working. Is the space creating a sense of community? Are the children using the space the way you had intended them to or are piles starting to take over flat surfaces? Maybe the children are having difficulty finding materials or packing away.

I’m going to outline my process of reflecting upon the learning environment, considering the ‘why’ of indoor organisation and exploring the value that is reflected.

Four important things you should be aware of

  • Be inspired to find what works with your children.
  • The environment will always be transforming to support our students and our own needs.
  • There is no formula. Children change year by year so it is not possible to replicate your environment year after year.
  • Take your time with this process!
Indoor Organisation

Let’s start with ‘stuff’!

Our classrooms are filled with stuff and as early childhood educators we spend a lot of time organising this ‘stuff’, putting it out, putting it away, displaying it, finding it and keeping track of it!

I document my environmental change process using the Trello app on my phone. I’ll walk you through my process of indoor organisation and maybe it will resonate with you {smile}

Documenting Indoor Organisation with Trello

Open up Trello and create three ‘lists’.

  • Chaos
  • Unorganised
  • Organised
Indoor Organisation
  • As you walk around your space, stop in each area and be curious about what you see.
  • Create a ‘card’ for specific areas/shelves, drawers, inside cupboards.
  • Open the card, click on ‘Add attachments…’, click on ‘Take Photo’.
  • Don’t look at the mess (if there’s one) but wonder at what the issue might be. Be kind to yourself {smile}

In the description box think about:

“What are the children doing?”

“What is not working?” (Chaos and disorganised areas).


  • It is great to reflect on what the children are doing in the organised areas as this indicates areas of success that could be applied to chaos and disorganised areas!
  • Are there any ‘hotspots’? These are sometimes a dumping ground for resources, materials and equipment.
  • Is there traffic flow congestion, the centre doesn’t ‘flow’ or the space is not large/small enough?
  • What are your needs?
  • What are the social, physical and cognitive needs?
  • Are there social issues or upsets in this area?
  • What underlying needs are the children trying to communicate in their use of the space?

Go through each card under Chaos and Disorganised, writing one or two answers to “What is not working?” and “What are the children doing?”

By the way, I am not an affiliate with Trello. I use Trello Personal Boards for my own use and it is my favourite way to do digital documentation. I am sharing with you how I use Trello, you might have a different app for digital documentation and I’d love to hear about your favourite documentation app in the comments below!

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