With the children observing different bugs and insects, we have brought in plastic bugs and insects for the children to play and explore with in the classroom. The children have been particularly intrigued by the ladybugs. The children discussed how the ladybugs fly and have started observing the wings that help them fly. This lead to a broader discussion about which bugs had wings to help them fly and which ones do not. To further this topic, we laid out a large sheet of paper and separated it into two columns: “can fly” and “cannot fly,” and then explained to the children what each category meant.
Teachers serve as a mentor or guide in a Reggio Emilia inspired school because the children enable the learning process through their curiosity and interest on each subject. In order to further these interests, the teachers role is to provide an opportunity for the child to explore their interests and then document each child’s thoughts. Documentation displays the progression of each child throughout the learning process.
The children immediately started talking about what bugs could fly and which one did not. Some of the children were confused about why the other kids were putting them on different sides of the paper. Their classmates helped them sort out the bugs and helped them understand why they were putting them into a certain place. By working together, the children were able to help each other understand why a bug went to particular column. One child was holding a plastic caterpillar and was repeatedly saying that they could fly. His classmates took the opportunity to explain how butterflies can fly because they have wings but caterpillars do not have wings yet so they cannot fly. In addition, they discussed that caterpillars have many legs that help him walk since he cannot fly.
Following his classmates’ feedback, the child took the caterpillar and placed it in the correct section of the paper. Working together, the children helped teach one another about what they knew concerning bugs. The Emilia Reggio philosophy incorporates group work because it enhances social, collaborative and communication skills. Each individual expresses their knowledge on the subject, which then improves the groups’ overall understanding.
This activity demonstrates the beauty of a collaborative environment in early childhood education. The children are able to learn by seeing, touching, hearing, observing and by openly discussing with one another. Moreover, encouraging the children to learn about the topics that interest them helps build deep and unique learning experiences that are absent from a simple worksheet or coloring book.