May 21, 2020
Last week we focused on the Reggio approach of bringing the outside into your classroom. I hope that you were able to get ideas and begin to incorporate them. Remember, this is not about how much can you do and how fast can you do it. This approach believes in observing the children and following their interests – it is about meeting the needs of your children. What you do must be done with intent.
What is the purpose of this?
How will it benefit the child?
Your answers do not need to be complex. For example, it may be as simple as wrapping tiny white lights around a wreath and suspending it from the ceiling so that it can help soothe a child as they look at it, or a tree in your classroom that serves as a home to various birds the children see when they are outside; or is a home to woodland animals. This approach is not about ‘prettying’ up your classroom – it is about meeting the needs of your children.
So, how do we bring the inside out? Once again, it is about meeting the needs of your children (did you notice that I have said this 3 times?). Do your children love the water? Bring out those buckets, dishpans and fill them with water (of course, new CDC guidelines would need to followed) – collect the cups, spoons, duckies, gather the shells, rocks, sticks, and whatever you have that attracts their attention. It is a perfect science lesson on density. Ask questions such as:
I wonder what will happen if we put the rock in - will it sink or will it float?
Which is heavier - the feather or the spoon?
Why is the stick floating?
Remember, from a child’s point of view, an environment is what the child can make it. Children will often find uses for objects and spaces that the adults do not anticipate.
Ask yourself what can you do in your outdoor space? It doesn’t matter if it is not huge, there are ways to capture a child’s interest. Who knew that fences could be so much fun? Painters tape comes in so many colors – make random patterns on the fence: Let the children paint or color (get those fine motor skills developing), take the tape off and ta-dah, you have a masterpiece!
Home Depot is my "go-to" place - buy some white PVC pipes, nicely ask the worker to cut them into different lengths, attach them to the fence and let the children drop balls through them – the race is on! Which one will come out first? Ask parents for old frying pans, spray paint the bottoms, attach them to the fence, give the children sticks and you have a band playing!
Children are to be encouraged to explore the outside – they will get messy doing so. The below display was done by a teacher at Childcare Resources and I think it captures the sentiment exactly.
Are the children dirty? You bet! Have they learned while playing? Absolutely! Have they worked on their social/emotional skills? Yes!
I hope this encourages you to begin your journey on implementing the Reggio approach outside. A single step is all you need.