One project that lasted a long time in the preschool room was investigating rainbows. It has been such a rich experience for the children that we are now seeing the project carrying over in the next class since some of them have moved to the preK class!
We took months studying all of the learning possibilities the rainbow presented. We spent days creating shades of color to further our understanding of the full spectrum of colors. Our goal was to help the children see that there isn’t just one “purple,” but that you can create an entire rainbow from different shades of purple, or any other color. We realized that we could further this study in a million different directions, so we continued with the child’s lead.
Something we offer to all the classrooms is light boards (yes, even the infants have their own light-boards). The children in our preschool class showed interest in furthering the rainbow and shades of color study on the light board, so we set-up a provocation.
We strategically placed a blank sky scene on the light board with many different materials to demonstrate a rainbow. Our goals with this project were to inspire the children to create rainbows and dive deeper into different shades of colors. It’s amazing to observe the children go through different thought processes when asked to draw a rainbow when given a blank sky, especially when you compare children’s reactions when given a rainbow worksheet with clear directions and instructions.
This activity is at the core of the Reggio Emilia approach:
1) We allowed the children to have some control over the direction of their learning by encouraging them to further their study of rainbows and shades of colors. 2) The children were able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, and seeing through different activities we engaged in. 3) The children were given a variety of different ways and opportunities to express themselves throughout the study of rainbows.
Lastly, this activity placed a emphasis on the environment as a third teacher. We want the classroom environment to inform and engage the children, and the outside environment to inspire a sense of wonder and curiosity in children.