Setting up a Reggio-inspired Activity

How to Set up a Reggio Activity - An Everyday Story

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?

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.

Reggio Emilia project-based homeschooling - A study of bugs {An Everyday Story}Connect the activity to your child’s interests

‘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.

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Presenting an Activity (A Provocation)

How to set up a Reggio painting activity - An Everyday Story

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.

Try using:

A Reggio Math Provocation from An Everyday Story

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:

Gather and group your materials

Then, group your materials around your work area. Use wooden trays or baskets to keep similar materials together.

Reggio art activities - finding art in nature - Van gogh Starry Night {An Everyday Story} Reggio Emilia Project: Investigating Autumn Fall Leaves with Oil Pastels

Using mirrors

Finally, mirrors. Can the activity be enhanced at all by adding a mirror? Is there an aspect of the activity which would benefit from being seen from another perspective?

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. 😀

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17 thoughts on “Setting up a Reggio-inspired Activity

  1. Pingback: How to set up a Reggio-inspired Activity | An Everyday Story

  2. Great post Kate, really helpful! I’ll definitely try adding a mirror in my Jack’s block play. Still thinking and listening for what our next project will be.

  3. This is an excellent post on setting up a Reggio activity. It is easy to understand and to follow. I will be using this post in the near future with my children (and checking out your other posts 🙂 In the meantime I am going to share at Triple T Mum FB Page and pin. Thank you!

  4. I am absolutely adoring your blog! SO delighted to have found you. This space is so very informative and inspiring. A million bravos!! Wishing you a beautiful week with your babies 🙂 x

  5. Love this post Kate, so well put together!
    I think you nailed it on the head about the whole process. Seeing it in step like this makes it so much easier, and comprehensive.

    Thank you for posting this, I’ll come back when I need inspiration!

    And BTW, Starry night is Van Gogh, not Da Vinci 😉

  6. This was a really interesting read, it sounds so similar to the inquiry learning process that I use at school with 5 – 8 year olds. We only learned a tiny bit about Reggio in my ECE degree, and I had forgotten it all already!

    • It’s very similar to inquiry-based learning, actually I think you could quite confidently say it is inquiry-based learning 🙂 The main thing I see as different to the type I learnt at uni and then taught is that inquiry is entirely child-led (I taught high school and so the inquiry focus was set for them), the materials the children use and the emphasis on children showing their understanding through art as they progress in their inquiry. It is so very fascinating for me 🙂

  7. Thanks for your posts! I am interested in incorporating more Reggio with my two preschoolers, and I was looking for a blog with inspiring ideas – yours is great! Question regarding presenting the activity: how much do you interact with the child vs let them discover on their own? Do you show them ideas and connections within the activity (eg comparing the domino dots with the squares, or point out different paintbrush sizes) or do you let them discover everything on their own and watch from a distance? Thanks!!

    • It really depends on the activity. If it is an art activity with a new medium (or a medium they haven’t explore much before) I let them explore freely. Once they are familiar with the medium/material I encourage them to delve a little deeper, refine their skills by giving suggestions or showing them new techniques.

      If the activity focusses on a specific skill or knowledge area like the addition activity, I demonstrate how to do the activity and support them if they have any questions. The important thing is to make sure that these focussed activities come from the children’s interests. My son was doing simple sums and so this activity was intended to build on that interest.

  8. Pingback: Learning to Measure | An Everyday Story

  9. Pingback: Setting up Provocations… « Visibly Engaged

  10. Enjoyed your site. I could have used some of this information when my grandchilden were younger .With a 13 year old teen girl , the natural things we did together are now passed memory. Boys & hair , fingernail polish , Cellphones , etc. ..are her things now. I pray she remembers time for the Lord .
    I still have my 12 yr old grandson .He loves natural stuff. He will go on digs with me and enjoy smooth stones , artifacts .I thank God for my nature buddie grandson .

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