In the Reggio Emilia philosophy, the environment as a “third teacher” is an important component to the approach. Since we have a strong belief that children learn through interaction with others, including parents, staff, and peers, our goal is to make the environment a friendly and collaborative space and to have an atmosphere of playfulness and joy.
We were inspired to designate a specific “birthday party” area by two pieces of artwork that the children painted. With the help of a few parents, the one-time play dough area was transformed into “the birthday area.” In order to make this a “birthday area,” we included different cupcake liners, colored play-dough, and party supplies!
When the children entered this area, they immediately began pointing out the different colors, matching items together, and counting how many cupcake liners and party hats they had. During the play, the children took turns singing “happy birthday” to each other and serving cupcakes made out of play dough. This area also inspired the children to make birthday cards for each other with paper, markers, and cupcake liners! While they were playing, the children listened to a variety of different versions of “happy birthday” playing in the background.
This designated birthday area is intended to be a place for children to celebrate, collaborate, and undertake extended exploration and problem solving. While we practiced mathematical concepts like counting and worked on fine motor skills during this activity, this birthday area will serve as a common space available to all children in the school for the remainder of the term. We can’t wait to see what project or activity this area inspires!