At Little Wonders and The School of Wonders the environment is the third teacher, it is a living and constantly changing system that influences the child’s thoughts and feelings. In an effort to promote a Reggio Emilia inspired environment, we are making a branch chandelier using beads from this project.
We gathered some medium sized branches and some natural wood colored beads. We wanted the infants to be in control of the project because it will be a legacy project for their room. In a Reggio Emilia learning environment each child is a protagonist, a collaborator, and communicator no matter their age, because the children are intelligent beings capable of anything they set their mind to. According to Carolina Rinaldi, “The emphasis is placed on seeing the children as unique individuals with rights rather than simply needs.” Their rights are manifested in curiosity, wonder, exploration, discovery, and social construction.
We placed the beads inside the center of large ziplock bags that had already been prepared with two different colors of paint inside each corner of the bag. The infants were given the tightly closed zip lock bags to play with in the effort to get them to apply paint to the beads. Using this method insured the safety of the children with these small pieces and it worked beautifully.
We also chose some bright shades of paint for their beads that add just the right amount of color to the classroom. These materials were picked specifically to spark the childrens curiosity to come and participate in the project. Materials are a key principal in the Reggio Emilia philosophy because they serve as a language for the children. Materials allow children to come and explore which in turn allows them to learn from their discoveries.
Children are also communicators, developing intellectually through the use of symbolic representations in this case playing with the bags filled with beads and attracting colors. They squeezed down on the colored areas of the bag where the beads were. This provided a meaningful sensory experience for the infants intellectual development as well because sensory play supports language development, cognitive growth, fine and gross motor skills. By squeezing down on areas of the bag the children used the muscles in their hands to move the beads and by seeing the different colors mix with the beads the infants discovered new colors in the process. Sensory play enhances memory, with that being said the children are much more likely to remember this experience and will be able to apply their knowledge of color mixing to more complex concepts involving color theory.
Some of the infants also played together mixing the colors with the beads with their hands and feet, demonstrating their ability to collaborate with their peers while practicing fine motor skills. It is important for the children to learn how to play with others at a very early age, it is a skill they will need through out their lives.
The children from the Pre-K class will be helping in stringing the beads to the branches with some clear wire. We hope to have this new piece out soon for the infants to enjoy!