Mawio’mi Toddler Room Makeover

It’s been almost five years since I worked at Mawio’mi Child Care Centre as a substitute teacher, when I was still a student at NSCECE. Mawio’mi is one of the “lab schools” that are managed by the Nova Scotia College of Early Childhood Education and they often become testing sites for new and progressive ideas in the field. 

Mawio’mi is a Mi’kmaq word for “gathering”. I believe that the centre’s culture reflects the name, a place where all come together with kindness, trust, and an open heart. I loved working there because of that warm, powerful energy… All you need to imagine is a three-year-old girl gently holding a guinea pig  on her lap in the middle of the busy preschool room. Unassisted (but watched) by adults. 

So here I am, five years later, re-shaping the room that once was shaping me as a teacher. 

Mawio’mi Toddler classroom had all the right stuff.. in all kinds of places. A new teaching team, summer vacations, substitute teachers contributed to the feeling that it was time to re-think the space. As you could see from the photos, it was mostly about re-defining the areas, making clean up easy for toddlers, and creating stronger visual statements.

There was a tall shelf for art materials…


The shelf is low, with four defined spaces, and the natural holders can be used to set up art invitations at the table or as decorations.

Art shelf, view from the top

The art table is close by the shelf and the sink, for easy set up and clean up. 


Trains, blocks, cars were stored in attached bins under the table and on the shelf, and the tabletop was mostly used for storage of unrelated items.

Still before…

All natural building materials live on one shelf. The top of the shelf becomes an extra storage and a beautiful display. 

Blocks shelf, view from the top

One more shelf is housing Lego, animals, colourful blocks and trains to support construction play. 


Before… there was no defined loose parts and manipulatives centre.  

And now there is. I suggested adding one more low shelf to put the activity trays on it when the table is needed to be cleaned for lunch.


The quiet area was mixed with the dramatic play area.


And the housekeeping area could use a housekeeper!


We separated the quiet area from the dramatic play area. Both are very cozy and welcoming in their own way. 


 All related items are in one place.


The storage is organized.


The babies are napping.


And the table is set for dinner.


This is the arrangement of the learning centres in the classroom.

Learning Centres
Learning Centres

And after we set up all the main areas, we made sure that we offered what toddlers were exploring before the makeover… balls!

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