Activity Area Compatibility
Some curriculum activities are naturally compatible and others are not, so balancing environmental factors such as quiet/noisy or messy/dry is important (Conant, 2012; Swim, 2012). In a typical learning environment, noise and interaction levels will naturally vary depending on the type of activity. For example, it is not unusual for dramatic play and block centers to be noisy, and children may transport props (small figurines, vehicles, animals, play food, and so on) back and forth depending on the theme of play. Therefore, in most early childhood classrooms, these centers are typically located in adjacent areas or at least in very close proximity. Conversely, children listening to audiotapes or sitting on an adults lap listening to a story need quiet to hear and concentrate.
Separating noisy and quiet activities can be challenging, especially in smaller spaces. When possible, carpets or other acoustically absorbent materials can considerably cut down on noise levels and should be used in noisy areas, but they must also not impede activity. Thus, for example, a rug in the block center should be flat and have a very low pile so that block structures will be stable. Curtains, soft furniture, and pillows can also cut down noise in quiet areas while also providing a cozy, comfortable feeling.