To further our project of fruit exploration, we gave the Toddler 1 class plantains to explore. The children quickly discovered that plantains are quite different from the regular bananas that we enjoy each morning or snack time. The children approached the plantain differently and explored in their own ways:
One child picked up the plantain, felt the weight, and then dropped it on the table. He continued to do this over and over again, each time picking up the fruit and then dropping it on the table. This repetitive activity introduced the concept of gravity, weight, and cause-and-effect. This helps to develop a child’s fine motor skills and is a visual-audio experience because it allows them to watch where the object goes and hear the sound of it hitting the table.
Another child took a bite out of a slice of plantain and quickly realized that he didn’t care for the taste. One child stacked several plantains on a bowl, while another passed slices around to everyone in the class. Several children attempted to squish the plantain like a regular banana, but they soon realized that it didn’t react the same; it was harder and not as easy to manipulate. Lastly, two of the children preferred to play with the outer skin of the Plantains rather than eating them.
This activity peaked the children’s curiosity because they immediately associated the fruit with the banana (a fruit they’re very familiar with) however after playing with the Plantain, they learned that it was very different from a banana, despite it’s almost identical physical features.
This exploration was a true sensory experience. Without visually seeing the green-tinted plantain, experiencing the starchy taste, or feeling that it’s harder than a banana, the children wouldn’t have been able to understand the difference! Moreover, it allowed the children to learn together and learn from each other. An important aspect in the Reggio Emilia philosophy is that children are encouraged to have a relationship with other children and with material items. This allows for peer teaching through verbal and non-verbal communication. According to L.S. Vygotsky, the social environment is a major contributor to the cognition development of children because of the open area of communication that exists allows them to express and negotiate ideas as well as contributes to each other’s understanding.