In a Reggio Emilia inspired school, children’s interests are at large and in-charge! The purpose of a Reggio Emilia education is to engage each child’s personal learning potential – in terms of both development and relationship building. In order to unlock this potential, children are offered daily opportunities in school to exercise their “hundred languages” of learning. Teachers present children with various hands-on, mentally-stimulating, skill-building materials and activities, allowing each child to direct their own path of learning through expression and creativity.
Thanks to this variety, Reggio Emilia activities are a lot of fun! For example, at Riverside Magnet School – a Reggio magnet school in Connecticut – classroom activities involve stimulating textures, innovative uses of everyday materials, and hundreds of avenues for children to engage and enjoy education.
Are you curious about what sorts of activities your child will uncover in a Reggio Emilia elementary school classroom? Let’s find out!
- Visual Invitations
In a Reggio Emilia school, teachers set up inviting spaces for children to enter and explore materials. This can be especially important for visual learners. For example, an arts & craft workspace should always be neat and stocked with all the necessary materials for children to exercise their skills.
Reggio Emilia teachers will typically provide authentic art materials such as watercolors, clay, chalk, and charcoal for children to experiment with in the classroom. They also offer all kinds of art instruments or vehicles for pigment including brushes, cotton balls, sponges, q-tips, sticks, and pinecones. Other textural materials will also be accessible, such as pieces of fabric or ribbon, pom-poms, foam shapes, and more.
Remember, in this educational technique, we’re engaging all of children’s varied languages, allowing them to shape projects through their individual interests by giving them agency and options. Whether students are exploring color and texture through print-making or kneading clay with their hands, they are using their powers of inquiry to learn about their world with art.
- Sound Out Loud
Some children may learn best through their ears. In fact, as Oxford University Press finds, children are actually born with the neurological ability to respond to sound, and eventually, to make music of their own accord! That’s why, in a classroom setting built on child-led learning, you’ll find lots of musical instruments for experimentation and play. In a Reggio Emilia classroom, you might find a guitar for gentle use, plus percussion instruments like egg shakers, bongos, tambourines, bells, xylophones, and much more. Just by interacting with these instruments, children can learn about patterns and movement through sound, exercise their fine motor skills, and work on cooperating with others, taking turns, and developing patience.
Handling musical instruments from varying cultures also opens the door to learning about people’s traditions around the world. Craft projects can arise from play with musical instruments, and teachers might lead children in making their own noise-makers such as a rain sticks, rubber band guitars, or bottle-and-beans shakers. Making instruments offers a full sensory activity for touch-sensitive, visual, and auditory learners alike!
- Drama, Drama!
Developing communication skills with peers at the preschool and elementary school level is very important. As children experiment with their hundred languages, they are also flexing their relationship-building muscles, and laying the foundations for future friendships and collaboration. Dramatic play helps children develop confidence, exercise imagination, and have fun with one another!
Reggio Emilia inspired classrooms might offer children costumes for imaginative dress-up, like acting as royalty, animals, or wearing clothing from global cultures, such as a kimono, dashiki, or a kilt. A popular craft project enjoyed by Reggio classrooms is to transform the entire space as a group: basically, building a huge “set” or stage with cardboard and paints! The classroom could become an underwater scene, a farm or a garden, a pizza shop, a jungle, a fire station, or a city street. Dramatic play offers in-depth learning which incorporates all of children’s senses, particularly exercising communication skills.
- Playing “Grown-Up”
Children learn from the world around them at home and in their daily lives with grown-ups. So, naturally, they’ll want to imitate what they see! In a Reggio Emilia classroom, this is encouraged with child-sized play kitchens or bedrooms, in which children can act out cooking, eating, bedtime routines, and wherever else their imaginations will lead them. Reggio Emilia classrooms might have other elements from the “grown-up” world for children to engage with, such as a cash register, mini shopping cart, and grocery-store aisles, or a post-office or bank setting.
- Diving into Nature
The role of the environment is very important in the Reggio approach, and is exhibited in many different Reggio Emilia activities— both inside and outside the classroom, children are encouraged to learn about the great outdoors!
In the classroom, your child might encounter rocks, soil, leaves, sticks, feathers, maybe even a bird’s nest. Outdoors, children can observe these materials in action: leaves changing or falling, snow sparkling and crunching, grass poking up through damp ground, birds building nests and raising babies. Watching the activities of the natural world will spark all kinds of curious questions in children, leading to the learning and appreciation of life and its cycles. Experiencing nature is a great way for children to engage all of their senses. In fact, NPR explores how “forest bathing,” or an immersive retreat into nature, can offer tangible health benefits… not just for Reggio Emilia learners, but for all students of life.
To find out more about different Reggio Emilia activities offered in elementary school, get in touch with Riverside Magnet School today! Riverside Magnet is a Reggio Emilia elementary school in the Hartford, Connecticut area, offering an engaging and enriching magnet school curriculum for children Pre-K through 5th grade.
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Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.