Using Our Senses to Observe with Intention

Our first “Field Trip” was a huge success! I was bummed that my little Penelope was sick and couldn’t make it this time, but I plan on taking her when she’s on the mend. Even though I missed Penelope, it was easier for me to focus on the kids during this time going solo with my teacher hat on and all.

If you’re a parent of a toddler or was once a parent of a toddler, you probably know how frequently emotions can rise, plummet, rise again, then remain at a steady pace of ease… so what do you do? We go with the flow, even on field trips! We ride the waves, meet them where they’re at, acknowledge their feelings with patience and love… that is, if you’ve had enough sleep and fluids of course!  I’m very grateful for these parents taking their young ones out on this excursion with me and believing in the experience.  We all had a wonderful time and it was worth it.

First I gave a mini-lesson about our 5 senses.  We discussed what they were together.  Then I shared how we would use our five senses to investigate the Bakery.  We would draw (as best we could) what we saw, smelled, heard and tasted.  I emphasized how we wanted to hear them talk about their pictures, to share what they drew so that we could write down the words next to their drawings.  We got moving right away!

When I shared this idea with some other adults outside our group, they thought, “They’re too young for this! That’s an activity I’d do with older kids…etc.”  Well in Reggio Emilia, the “Image of the Child” yields high expectations while keeping it developmentally appropriate.  For example, even though drawings may look like this for our 2 and 3 year olds, they hold great meaning because they are at the development of naming their scribbles.  All you have to do is ask them about their picture.  Each mark is meaningful to them…I think you’ll be impressed, but then again, you tell me…

Lily and Zai carefully observing bakery goodies. Lily looks so grown up with clipboard in hand.
Lily and Zai carefully observing bakery goodies. Lily looks so grown up with clipboard in hand.



Lily peered through the glass to observe this baker frosting cupcakes.  I also prompted the children to take note of any special tools or equipment they recognized.  Lily noticed up high on a distant shelf a container of large whisks.  She commented with excitement, “Those are whisks! My daddy uses those when we make eggs and pancakes at home!” What a beautiful connection she made!

Can you find the whisks?
Can you find the whisks?

One child got frustrated that his drawings did not look exactly like what he saw.  After some encouragement and examples of meaningful drawings from other children, his confidence began to grow.  It was nice to see him keep drawing after overcoming a little bit of frustration.

Camden looking so studious as he focuses on his picture.
Camden looking so studious as he focuses on his picture.

Lastly, I’d like to share the children’s actual drawings next to the items they were looking at.  The clipboards were a big hit and most importantly they seemed to have lots of fun.  I’m really looking forward to hearing how they’ll recount this experience in the upcoming weeks.














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In the coming weeks, we’ll re-visit and reflect on this experience during circle time.  To prepare for that, I’ve printed out the pictures of our experience to help them recall and reflect.  We also have more dialogue to put together.  We’ll see what unfolds!

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