Part 2 of our useful guide on how inspire meaningful play outside the classroom. Read on to discover our key tips for engaging your child in Reggio-inspired play.
3. Spend lots of time outside
Nature is hugely restorative, both for adults and children. Deepen your child’s connection to the natural world by taking walks, picking fruit or herbs, collecting shells, and treasures from nature, gardening, splashing in puddles, rolling in the grass, playing in dirt, soil and sand.
While outside, make a conscious effort to observe your surroundings together, regardless of the weather. Being surrounded by nature gives children a sense of calmness and there are lots of opportunities for delight. Use this time to help your child develop respect and empathy for the living world. Insects and animals are to be treated with kindness and respect, as are the trees, plants and flowers.
Most of all, let your child experience outdoor environments with all of their senses, and try not to get too worried about the mess. You can always put them in the bath at the end of the day, right?
Tip: If you’re finding it hard to get outside regularly, schedule family time to be spent in nature, rather than inside. Dinner could be an easy picnic at the beach or, head out into the garden (or a nearby park) for bedtime stories with a twist.
4. Make a Reggio-inspired corner
Just like adults, children love beautiful, interesting objects. Why not make a space for these in your home? Anything which invokes a sense of wonder or excitement is a great addition to your Reggio-inspired corner, AKA a space of possibilities!
We suggest authentic, open-ended materials that allow children to discover and invent on their own terms.
First of all, choose an light-filled area in your home. One that’s suitable for extended play and projects. Next, collect objects and materials. Natural materials appeal deeply to our senses; their colour, texture and smell are far more superior than plastic or synthetic alternatives.
Raid charity stores for inexpensive cane baskets, wooden bowls and trays for storage. Save glass jars and other vessels that can be used as containers for smaller bits and pieces that your children will treasure and find 101 different uses for. Feel free to include a small table and chairs.
What is an open-ended material? We define this as something that can be transformed from its current use. It comes to life in the hands of a child and requires imagination or knowledge to work with it. Remember, there isn’t one predetermined way of using an open-ended material, it should simply invite your child to think outside the box.
Materials to include:
Pinecones, sticks, rocks
Shells, dried flowers, leaves
Percussion and/or musical instruments
Ribbon (different widths and lengths)
Fabric scraps, raffia (different weights, colours and transparencies)
Paint, brushes, an easel
Small mirror (with guidance and support, children can be trusted to work with breakable items)
After collating these materials you will begin to see ordinary things in a new way and most importantly, your child will too.