In preparation for the International Winter Festival, the students were making paper snowflakes one day. As the children cut the paper, they noticed that they were simultaneously creating various shapes in the snowflake. We discussed the different shapes they created and how each shape contributes to the image of the snowflake.
After observing the various shapes, we provided the children with loose materials so they could create snowflakes out of some uncharacteristic materials. Some students used small sticks, toothpicks, Popsicle sticks, q-tips, and more. They all started by creating either a diamond, triangle, or square with their materials and slowly building off of that original shape. Once the snowflake was constructed, the children then proceeded to draw on their snowflakes using patterns based on colors or patterns based on shapes.
To inspire more creativity, we established a special area filled with shape-related materials. When the children ventured over to the special area, they gathered around an overhead with plastic shapes on it and immediately began grouping each size together and outlining the shapes with markers.
The children discussed the shapes that appeared on the overhead and wrote down the name of the shape and the number of sides it had on the overhead as well. During this activity, they worked together to recognize different facts about each shape and have mastered identifying kindergarten shapes!
This activity is at the core of the Reggio Emilia approach because the children engaged in project-based learning. Project based learning occurs when:
- The children have respect for each other
- Relationships is the basis for collaboration
- Reciprocity to co-construct understandings
- Representation through various objects and methods
In this project-based learning activity, the involvement of all of the children was vital to the advancement of each child. In other words, the more children who collaborated influenced the more each child learned! Since we view children as capable beings, we have full confidence that the children can learn and teach one another.
This is also a great example to see the progression of a project that can last all semester! The topic of shapes first occurred by making snowflakes, however it has since evolved into a dedicated area of the classroom where children can recreate and identify different shapes.