The Art of Play

Environment as the Third Teacher

In Reggio Emilia based schools, the environment is considered the third teacher.  Instead of primary colors, cartoon characters and simple shapes, Reggio Emilia schools have beautiful photographs, artworks, live plants, flowers, and natural lighting.  As in Montessori Schools, supplies are organized and easily reachable for students to encourage creativity.  

Exposure to Art Outside the Classroom

Source: Frank Stella, La vecchia dell'orto Columbus Museum of Art
Take the children to a nearby art museum or gallery and explore the world of art.  Here are a few ideas to enhance learning in the museum:

Ask children to describe what they see in a work.   If  the work is abstract, ask them to describe what the subject matter might be.

Ask them what they like and don't like about an artwork. Remember... all opinions are worthy of consideration.

Bring along sketchbooks and encourage children to draw what they see.  

Play a scavenger hunt game in which children have to find colors, shapes, or objects.  

Nature Walk

Madeline with a monarch butterfly
Exposing children to the natural world around them is important in making the connection between themselves and their surroundings.  You don't need to go somewhere special, you can even do this in your own backyard!  

Scavenger hunts can be fun activities for children at this age.  Have them bring their findings back indoors for examination and sharing with peers.  Be sure to bring along magnifying glasses to deepen the discovery.

Ask children to bring along their sketchbooks and draw from nature.

What season is it?  

In Winter, have fun playing in the snow and making shapes like snowballs.  Build a snowman together.  

In Spring talk about growing plants, blooming flowers, birds making nests and laying eggs, the return of insects, etc.  

In Summer talk about noisy crickets and fireflies at night.  Collect insects and/or try to catch a toad.  

In the Fall, talk about the changing leaves and temperatures getting colder.  Collect leaves and do rubbings with pencils and crayons on paper.