With Spring here (and around the corner because we live in upstate NY), spring related topics naturally pop up in conversation and in play. Penelope has been asking questions like, “When will the tulips bloom?” “Is Spring here yet or not?”
The Reggio Emilia Approach values these questions and observes children as they play, as well as how children interact with materials. The child is seen as the expert and the parent or teacher is seen as the facilitator and partner in the learning process with children.
As a homeschooling mom doing the Reggio Approach, I obviously cannot scribe and intently observe the entire day. If the same toys are being played with and the same scenarios keep coming up within their play, I start to pay closer attention. If an interesting question is raised, I jot it down. I try to practice 20 minute chunks of focused observation with the girls, but it usually ends up with me playing alongside them. I’m still able to reflect a little bit afterwards. On weekends is when I really try to reflect on the previous week. What stood out? How can I provoke their interests deeper in the week coming up? What provocations can I set out?
Once I prepare a few provocations based on my reflections, I try to document their time interacting with the provocation. It doesn’t always happen, but I think the effort is very important. Here’s an example I did last week:
The girls noticed the spring flower bouquet was starting to wilt. I left the flowers out on the light table with a little life still in them for them to explore. Here’s what happened:
Here’s what Penelope (age 5) said while interacting with the flower petals:
I’m sun lighting them.
Moving them with my fingers
I’m reflecting them with the sunlight.
(Petals on the floor)
Maybe the sunlight will move over here and reflect off them
We put the petals onto the mirror.
Using a stick to move the petals, we’re doing a flower puzzle! Using the stick to connect them!
I liked all the language Penelope used comparing the petals to light and observing the light’s relationship with the flowers. I’m not sure how the stick connected the “puzzle pieces,” but the idea of the petals transforming into a puzzle was brilliant and a great example of “the Hundred Languages.” Everleigh enjoyed picking up the petals, piling them up and pulling them apart (she’s 22 months old).
Reflect. Revisit. Reflect. After reflecting on the experience, I realized I left too many light-related options out at once. If I were to do this provocation again, I would just leave the flowers on the light table and omit the microscope and projector. Next time I’ll make the microscope the focus, and then the projector the focus. Having all three out made it so the other two were never considered. I may re-introduce these items with the microscope next time so the girls can see the same material in a new way. I may also explore this idea of the puzzle more…
Reflect. Revisit. Reflect. I’ll continue along with this process. It may change and evolve into something new. So might the natural world around us. So stay tuned!