Start with a question
Reggio inspired activities are about exploration and discovery; exploring with their senses, asking questions, testing theories, making plans and thinking deeply.
When you are setting up a provocation (an inquiry or discovery activity) have a think about some of the questions your child has been asking lately. What have they been wondering about?
- They might ask you straight up, ‘Why does my shadow stick to me?‘ or
- they might say a statement, ‘Hey Mummy, look at my shadow when I wave my arms.‘ or
- you may just notice them doing something intently, like playing with their shadow.
This is your cue, your opportunity to provide an experience which will engage their interests.
From there, get some idea of what your child already knows about the subject. Depending on their age you can do a brainstorm where you discuss what you know and make a mind map. For younger children, what they understand will probably come through in their play, drawings and paintings.
Make notes of these as well as any misconceptions they may have, this will help you to plan an activity/inquiry that really relates to what your child knows or wants to know.
Plan your activity
Now thinking about what they want to know and what they already know, you can start to plan your activity/inquiry.
Is your activity going to be an observation like our Snail inquiry?
- An observational painting or drawing activity like this one of van Gogh’s Starry Night?
- A discovery activity like this nature walk?
Gather your materials
Now you can start gathering your materials. What you will need will depend on what you are exploring. If it’s something real (in nature or around the neighbourhood), then head out for a walk if you can to explore the real thing.
‘You were asking about ant nests yesterday. Let’s go for a walk and see if we can find some.’ Take along a notebook and pencil for sketching, a bag to carry any treasures and go explore.
Listen to what your child is talking about, notice what they are doing, these little clues will help you to continue the exploration when you get home.
Presenting an Activity (A Provocation)
As much as possible, try to include natural materials in your activity. Natural materials are not only beautiful, they appeal deeply to our senses; their colour, texture, smell and even taste are far more engaging than plastic alternatives. Baskets and bowls as well as glass vases can be picked up inexpensively at charity stores.
How does the activity look?
When you are arranging an activity, think about how the activity looks.
- Does it make you want to play too?
- Would you be attracted to this activity?
- Can you see everything that is available?
- Do you have some idea of what you might do with this activity?
Define your work area
Next, define the work area. When you define the work area with a mat or a tray you draw your child’s attention in, they will move to that area. Try using:
- A small cloth placemat like the one in the math provocation above
- A hard surface for building with blocks
- A mirror like in this observational painting activity
Gather and group your materials
Then, group your materials around your work area. Use wooden trays or baskets to keep similar materials together.
- Using a mirror with blocks allows the front side of the blocks to be seen, encouraging the child to build more 3-dimentionally.
- When painting or drawing, a mirror underneath an object allows the underside to be seen as well as reflecting light and colour
- Surrounding the activity with mirrors reflects light back onto the child as well as engages the child’s curiosity as they watch their movements.
So these are my thoughts on putting together a Reggio-inspired activity. Reggio-inspired activities are so engaging, they really make you want to get right in there and explore. So have a go and let me know how you went. 😀