As we prepare for a new school year, it’s time to re-think how to arrange our class and home play spaces. The Reggio approach values the environment as the “third teacher” so taking a step back and examining the space and learning materials we offer children is essential. There are many easy ways to incorporate Reggio elements without spending lots of money.
1) Bring nature in and incorporate natural loose materials such as rocks, pine cones, seashells and leaves to various play spaces. Spread them out in different areas such as the block area or the kitchen area and watch how children will find imaginative ways to use them in their play.
2) Sort art materials, paper, and toys by color and shades. Not only is this more visually appealing and promotes a sense of calm in the space, but it also helps children focus on the material that they want to use. Look around your space to find interesting items you could add to the art shelf such as bubble wrap, cardboard sheets (cut from cardboard boxes), and paper towels. Offering children various artistic media promotes sensory exploration and can lead to fun creative accidents.
3) Create a portable art bin that can travel easily between spaces. This encourages the development of pre-literacy skills as well as supports holistic learning. In block area, encourage children to draw their creations or while in the drama area, ask them to write their own recipe or grocery list. Even young children will enjoy the opportunity to mark make in various settings outside of the designated art area. In Reggio schools, “art” is not confined to one activity but interwoven into different parts of the day since it is the central way that children learn.
4) Focus on the aesthetic dimension to education and always keep in mind that the space should feel light and airy, without being overloaded with too many items. This means removing any brightly colored storage bins and replacing with more neutral items as well as removing traditional class décor and instead using children’s art work or photographs, hung at their eye level.
5) Create an environment that becomes a reflective space which welcomes back the children with traces of their learning. Refrain from always asking children to “clean up” when they have spent so much time working on something but instead find ways to respect their work by moving it to a safe corner or creating a border around it so that they can go back to revisiting, whether it be a train, tower or drawing. When you visit Reggio schools, you’ll see building towers in the process of being built or paintings in the process of being finished. They value the child’s “right to time” and how it shouldn’t be adapted to fit the pace of the adult’s life. All of these things don’t require lots of time or money but they can go a long way in promoting a space that allows a child to flourish and feel respected. #reggioinspiredlearning #reggioinspired #inquirylearning #reggioinspiredspace The environment is a space that requires a high level of attention to emotion, empathy, care, connections, poetic beauty, research, variation, reflection, metaphor, imagination, curiosity, points of view and mistakes. - Anna Orlandini, atelierista