Playing with loose parts in the classroom

This week the children had a few new introductions to their third teacher- the room itself. Our approach to learning considers three teachers in the classroom at any given time: the teacher, the child and the environment. Listing “the environment” as a teacher is a core principle in the Reggio Emilia approach and it allows the children to learn from material items in the world and learn from touching, moving, listening, and observing.

The materials in the environment served as a “teacher” for the children one morning. The children were so intent and focused as they used the open-ended materials, defined by Kate from as “materials that can be transformed,” to investigate and discover.

The children exchanged materials while talking and explored filling and emptying baskets and boxes. The children also tested the materials out by looking through them and putting their arms in them. They have also been making sounds with the materials. All of these activities further fine motor skill and communication development.

The addition of these open-ended materials and our “third teacher” fostered an environment for experimentation and discovery, and allotted new space for imagination, innovation and a love for learning to flourish. For more information on the theory of loose parts click here.

Another addition to our classroom included a tent, which urged closer and more inventive play due to the smaller space. We also made shakers from painted ice cream salt, allowing the students to make music together. Both of these forms of play added to the social dynamic of the classroom, encouraging more group activities, creative expression and exploration.

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