In the 3–4 year old room, the learning environment responds to children becoming more detailed-oriented in their play as they use language in increasingly sophisticated ways to take on roles, collaborate with others, and express themselves through story, art, design and dramatic play. A well-designed learning environment for children aged 3-4 years supports imaginative and creative play for extended periods of time to maximise learning opportunities.
Open-ended materials feature in play spaces in the 3-4 years room. Open-ended materials don’t automatically suggest what they do or what they’re for, meaning children need to talk, collaborate, and negotiate with peers about how they will be used in play. Along with larger play spaces, small world play invites imagination and storytelling as children talk out loud and use vocabulary suited to the theme of the play.
Construction areas provide spaces where children choose what to build or create. Resources are varied and accessible, with multiples of items to support group play and interactions, along with individual work. Arts spaces invite exploration of different mediums, including clay and different forms of painting. In the creative arts, there are no rights or wrongs in terms of the outcome. Quality resources and long blocks of time engage children deeply in processes of art-making.
From age 3, children begin to engage with games that have rules. Games with rules support children to practise self-regulation skills as they learn to wait for their turn, cooperate with and listen to other players, and follow the rules.
Literacy and numeracy concepts are embedded across the learning environment. The addition of paper and pens in dramatic play spaces teaches children about different purposes for mark making (early writing) to represent concepts and meaning. Environmental print (posters, logos, signs, labels) is incorporated purposefully to represent everyday life, along with fiction and non-fiction books relevant to the play space and children’s current interests and ideas.