“The child has a hundred languages…”
Said Loris Malaguzzi, the person behind the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. He built this pedagogy of education after World War II while teaching school kids in villages around Reggio Emilia, a city in Italy. Since then, this educational philosophy has been accepted and implemented in many early education centers and schools throughout the world.
Activities based on this approach are simple. Yet, they have the power to instill curiosity and promote lots of learning in little minds. As a parent or a teacher, if you would like to explore more on this pedagogical approach, stay with us until the end of this blog post as we explain more about the Reggio Emilia approach and its related activities.
What is the reggio emilia approach to early education?
The main idea of the Reggio Emilia approach to education is that every child can learn and naturally build their understanding and knowledge through hands-on and meaningful interactions with their surroundings and community members.
It believes that the environment plays a vital role in supporting a child’s learning process. Therefore, schools must provide an environment conducive to learning where kids can access all materials that promote open-ended play. This freedom is necessary to spark creativity and allow kids to explore the world around them.
Unlike the standard approach to learning in regular schools, where teachers lead learning, the Reggia Emilia approach requires teachers to act as facilitators who encourage exploration, problem-solving, and social interactions. They carefully observe students and help them expand their knowledge on things that interest them.
How does this approach benefit little kids?
Kids learning through the Reggio Emilia approach reap several benefits that enhance their learning experience and foster overall development. Some of them are:
- Learning and fun go hand in hand.
- Access to a learning environment that feels like home.
- Encourages parent-teacher collaboration to support student learning.
- Uses social skills activities to help build social skills and encourages kids to learn from each other.
- Child-centered and self-led learning allows kids to pursue their interests.
- Kids are encouraged to express their ideas, thoughts, and feelings freely and confidently.
Stimulating reggio emilia activities for young minds
1. Leaf art
Take your little explorers out in the field and let them pick a few fresh or dried leaves in different shapes and shades. Bring them back indoors and allow them to examine each leaf using a light source and a magnifying glass.
Talk to them about how each leaf differs and if they can spot any differences. After kids are done examining their leaves, offer them supplies like tracing paper and crayons to c. Help them stick these rubbings onto a large poster and put them on a classroom wall as a memoir of this activity.
2. Fun with shadows
Choose a spot close to a classroom window or take kids outdoors for this fun shadow activity. Grab a few items available in the classroom, like books, toys, etc. Show them how shadows appear when objects come in the way of light.
Let kids experiment with the things you have brought along. Give the activity a twist by showing how they can create fascinating shadows using their own bodies and make shadow puppets. If you’re outdoors, add an element of art by letting kids outline shadows with sidewalk chalk, and have them fill in colors to make beautiful artistic creations.
3. Playdough sculptures
Kids love playdough. So, why not use it for a Reggio Emilia-inspired activity? You must be having a stock of colorful playdough already in your supplies. If not, get it for your students from a local store. Prompt kids to make sculptures of their choice using playdough.
Let their imaginations run wild and come up with interesting sculptures. If you find any child struggling with ideas, offer them a hint about things they can make. A face, a flower, a building, or anything that comes to their mind at that moment. After all the sculptures are ready, call students to show and talk about their creations to their peers.
4. Music with everyday objects
Musical instruments are one way of making music. But there are other ways as well. Use this fun musical exploration activity for improving musical intelligence in kids. Also it promote auditory discrimination and let kids explore how different everyday items can be used to create music. Ask students to gather a few supplies from the classroom, like plastic boxes, a stack of books, etc.
Things they think can make music. You can also bring a few household supplies like cooking utensils, buckets, and cardboard boxes. Arrange them on a table and give rhythm sticks to kids so they can experience how different items make different sounds. They can then create their own music by infusing rhythm to these sounds.
5. Nature walk scavenger hunt
Little kids are sensory beings. They love to take in experiences through their senses. Use this innate ability of little kids to help them explore the world through their senses and support a learning experience. A nature walk is a must-try recreational activity for kids.
So, organize a nature walk for your young explorers and prepare a scavenger hunt for them. Include things that stimulate their senses of touch, see, smell, and hearing. Prompts like “Find a soft flower petal,” “Spot a flying bird,” or “Smell flowers or grass” are perfect for helping them explore and gain new experiences from their surroundings.
6. Role-play fun
Role-playing is an excellent way of stimulating children’s minds while they pretend to be a different person. It encourages kids to be involved in dramatic role play and portray their understanding of the real world. To support this activity, stock up a variety of role-playing materials in your classroom.
As kids get involved in the activity, they will learn to appreciate their peers’ perspectives. It will also provide kids more opportunities to interact with their peers, which will, in turn, help in building their confidence.
7. What’s that sound?
Sounds are powerful. When we close our eyes and only concentrate on listening, the sounds are directly sent to our brains. It sparks curiosity and creative thinking as we try to identify these sounds. With this in mind, our next activity requires kids to relate sounds to their real-world experiences to identify them.
So you play different sounds, one at a time, and ask the kids to tell what that sound might be. Encourage kids to concentrate, listen carefully, and share their answers. Tell them the correct answer when everyone is done sharing what they think it could be.
8. Water play and nature boats
Water play never fails to get kids excited! So set up a water play area where you wouldn’t mind a few spills. Add some waterproof toys, and you will be amazed to see how long it can keep your students engaged. Add another element to this by telling kids to make nature boats.
They could use twigs, leaves, and other items they find in nature to construct their boats. Of course, you’ll need to provide them with additional materials, like thread, glue, etc., to help with the assembly. Encourage kids to employ their creativity to design their nature boats and end the activity with a race to see whose boat can sail the fastest.
9. Create your storybook
Stories are an intrinsic part of a child’s life. Little kids love to read and hear stories. Stories boost their imaginations and take them to a different world. To push this a little further, tell kids to come up with their own stories. It could be anything they like.
As kids this age may not be able to write well enough, suggest they draw scenes from their story on small sheets of paper and help them turn it into a storybook. Invite students to present their stories to their peers. They could show the pictures and recite the story so everyone can listen and enjoy.
10. Imaginary landscapes
Let the imagination of young learners soar by giving them the opportunity to create imaginary landscapes and worlds of their own. Give them open-ended objects like building blocks, foam shapes, animal figurines, fabric pieces, felt balls, cardboard boxes, and nature-derived items like acorns, pinecones, shells, twigs, and leaves so they can use them however they like to build a stunning landscape.
Take pictures of individual landscapes in sunlight and then pull down the blinds, turn off the lights, and help kids observe their landscapes in torchlight to get a different view and understand that light changes the way things appear during the day and night.
Regio Emilia activities are a great means to allow kids to become active participants in their own learning experiences. Through these activities, kids work on their creativity and collaboration skills while maintaining their individuality. They learn to embrace challenges and blend in a diverse environment.
They develop essential social and cognitive skills and learn to do things confidently and independently. As early years education plays a vital role in creating a solid foundation for future learning, the Reggio Emilia approach and activities undoubtedly help groom bright little minds for their future endeavors and prepare them for a life-long journey.
I am Priyanka Sonkushre, a writer and blogger. I am the person behind “One Loving Mama,” a mom blog. Equipped with a Bachelor’s degree along with an MBA, my healthcare background helps me deeply understand learning difficulties. I know how challenging it can be for parents to find the right resources to help their children excel in life. So, here I am to blend my healthcare expertise with my parenting experience to create valuable and helpful resources for parents and teachers supporting children with learning differences. If you wish, you can follow me on Facebook and LinkedIn.