yesterday afternoon, i ran across this on kathryn's lovely blog, bumblebee.
what is it, you ask? this is 'ring around a tree', part of the fuji kindergarten in tokyo, japan. especially during the early years, children are learning and exploring using their senses and bodies. the structure allows for movement and avoids the classical dynamics of frontal lectures.
the classrooms are built surrounding a japanese zelkova tree. this particular tree is over 50 years old and survived a tsunami that destroyed almost everything else around it. it has been a popular gathering spot for children for decades.
while the structure may only appear to have two floors for regular sized people, there are multiple mini levels for the children to explore.
in hopes of allowing the children to use the space with out barriers, the design is such that there is no furniture required.
this classroom is a dream. i certainly wouldn't mind teaching in a space like this some day.