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!
We’ve been working with the Toddler 2 class on developing their fine motor skills by cooking! The children have been practicing cutting, spreading butter on sweet potatoes, and cooking carrots. Below is a video of the children working on these skills and developing their fine motor skills. It’s amazing to see their patience and concentration when wrapping thing fingers around a knife and carrot. It looks like some of us are ready for culinary school! Continue reading
To celebrate the fall and Thanksgiving season, the children had an opportunity to explore sweet potatoes! We wanted to expose them to several forms of sweet potatoes, so we boiled the potatoes, cut them in half, and served them to the children.
While reading a book about the earth during story time, the children became interested in the animals pictured in the book. They were familiar with most of them, however one particular animal sparked their curiosity, and that was a rhinoceros. The enormous size, shape, and features intrigued the children.
To encourage their curiosity, the teachers printed images of a rhino and wrote the word “rhinoceros” and placed this, grey markers, and white paper on the light tables. As the children began trying to draw the rhino, together we identified the pointy horns, counted how many legs a rhinoceros had, and concluded that it is definitely not soft or fluffy. The children made note that the rhino was “all grey” and spoke with each other about the rhino being “big.”
We wanted to keep learning about different aspects of a rhinoceros’ life, so we continued to read many different books about them. Stay tuned for another post… we have a feeling this project is not over with!
This activity highlights how certain projects are started. It’s all based on the child’s interest, what they want to learn about, and expressing their knowledge in as many ways as possible. We believe children are curious and capable human beings who have interests and imaginations that need to be expressed. One of the key ways we are able to succeed in a child-led learning approach is a result of our wonderful teachers. Our teachers at Little Wonders are trained to listen, observe, and then encourage a deeper understanding through art, sensory play, discussions, music, theatre, and more!
Some critics of child-led curriculum say that children don’t have as many opportunities to learn because they don’t know enough about the world. We don’t think that’s true at all, and that’s because of our view of children… capable human beings who deserve respect and a chance to express their knowledge. Moreover, it’s rare that a study on a food, animal, or job stays stagnant on that one topic. Our projects are constantly evolving. What may start as a study on a rhinoceros can transform into a study on animals that have horns, the differences between reptiles, mammals, and amphibians, and a study on the continents and countries where rhino’s live.
In easier terms, our curriculum is based on the children’s passions and pursuits that we observe from their dialogue and play. The whole process is about collaboration, learning with the children, and instilling a love of learning into them!