A Day in our Reggio-Inspired Kindergarten Homeschool

 

 

Have you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall in a Reggio-Inspired classroom?

Do you dabble with the approach - injecting the odd provocation here and there, experimenting with emergent curriculum, but also enjoy a more predictable, structured {planned} curriculum?

Have you wondered how to meet all the academic outcomes, but also how to balance a child-centred, curiosity-driven approach?  What are the rhythms and routines? How does learning “happen?” What does a typical schedule look like?

Today, I’m pulling back the curtain, and sharing the ins and outs of our days here at Brillante Beginnings, a homeschool enrichment program for Kindergarten aged children.

I’m also sharing my {somewhat controversial} stance - as someone who straddles the line between a traditional, teacher-directed approach with a more Reggio-inspired, child-centred approach. The "sweet spot" where wonder meets rigour.

I used to struggle with internal questions like:

"Is this...

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My Dollar Store Classroom

 

So you want to Reggio-fy your classroom.

You see all the inspiration on Pinterest, on blogs and your imagination, but there's one problem.

You have ZERO budget.

Having taught in the Inner City, I know that teachers' meagre classroom budgets are barely big enough to cover writing supplies and a few notebooks and maybe a field trip, let alone flexible seating, beautiful matching wicker baskets and a gorgeous oversized rug.

You know the importance of creating Ambiente. The importance of creating a space that is responsive to our students' emerging interests; a space that is inspiring enough to pique curiosities and promote engagement, and comfortable and cozy enough to feel like home away from home. 

So how can we begin to take steps to transform our classroom learning environment so that it is more inviting and inspiring, so that children will feel more comfortable, at home, and engaged in their learning? Where do we start, given our limited budget?

Well,...

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My #TeacherCrush Blog Series Vol | 02

 

You know teachers who make you want to level-up your own practice?

You soak up their every word, nuance and lesson. Their students ADORE them, their administrators RAVE about them, and every parent wishes their kid was in her class?

One of those teachers is my new-found friend, Bela Luis. Her students know her as Bela, and she shares her gifts with other teachers through workshops {where I got to see her space first-hand!}, and has been invited to share her love for Land-Based Learning at a conference in Oakland, California later this year. 

Being in her classroom is how I picture heaven for teachers. She takes environment as third teacher to a whole new level. I know you will find so much inspiration in this interview, and especially in the photos of her learning environment.

Folks, meet my friend Bela. A much-respected teacher from my own hometown, Winnipeg, Canada! 

Please share a bit about your education: your school, major/minor(s) and
graduation year, as well...

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Valentine's Invitations to Learn // Play // Create

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L-O-V-E is in the AIR!

I love Valentine's Day for so many reasons, but mainly because they offer SWEET MOMENTS for learning.

In today's blog post, I'm sharing a few PLAY + ART-inspired ideas to get your kids engaged and learning!

1. Valentine's Day Bakery {Writing + Sensory Play}

Set out PLAY DOUGH, heart-shaped cookie cutters, loose parts and recipe books for inspiration.

Invite your kids to create menus, signs and recipes for their Bake Shop.

My favourite go-to homemade play dough recipe {that last for weeks!}

 

2. "Love Is" Bookmaking Ideas {Writing + Representing}

These accordion-style handmade books are a wonderful way to inspire young authors. We created a list of all the PEOPLE, PLACES and THINGS we love, and added them to our envelope books.

3. Tape-Resist Valentines {Writing + Representing}

Simple, geometric painted hearts make the perfect Valentines for loved ones. Tape various lines across paper (watercolour paper works best), and paint the inner...

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My #TeacherCrush Blog Series Vol | 01

 

Once in a while, you meet a teacher {online or in-person} who absolutely blows you away with what they are doing in their practice. I call these my "teacher-crushes." Folks who educate, inspire, uplift, enlighten, and even entertain us with their amazing work in the field.

As I keep my circle of Insta-teacher-influencers small {limited to those who share a Reggio/Arts/and Play-oriented philosophy}, I get to meet a truly inspiring educator every now and again. These teachers model best practices, are role models for their students and a true inspiration in the field.

I thought I would start a "spotlight series" to share the work of these inspiring educators, and unpack their biggest challenges and struggles. 

We all face similar obstacles: whether we are practicing teachers, homeschoolers, or mothers providing enrichment for our kids.

The feelings of overwhelm, lack of time and resources, and meeting the needs of varying ages and abilities are commonplace issues....

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Organized Art Storage for Kids

Staying organized in today's busy world is getting harder and harder to do.

Especially when it comes to children.

Staying organized with ART SUPPLIES is a whole different ballgame, and because of its inherently "messy" nature, many teachers and families shy away from art with their kids.

In the Reggio-inspired world, art is a language with which kids first learn to communicate. In fact, the atelier is a very important, dedicated space for art creation and experimentation in Reggio-inspired schools. 

Art holds tremendous power for kids - to express feelings, fears, dreams and ideas. Giving children tools, and presenting them in a thoughtful, organized and beautiful way, invites kids in to explore, and use this language in creative ways.

I believe that art supplies (and other toys/materials) should be VISIBLE, and within kids' reach.

This way, they can make independent choices and not feel thwarted by always having to ask permission. (always asking for help and permission...

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Reggio Made Easy:  A Beginner’s Guide to Reggio-Inspired Learning the North American Way

Over ten years ago, I discovered an approach to teaching and learning that would forever transform how I view children, teaching and learning.

As an advocate for the Arts and play-based learning and a lover of inspiring design, the Reggio-Emilia approach to early learning resonated with every fibre of my being.

But what does it mean to be Reggio-inspired, and where did the term come from? And more importantly, how can we - as North American educators and homeschoolers - take inspiration from such an approach, but also remain accountable for the learning outcomes we are expected to teach our children in the context of a public or homeschool education?

Reggio Emilia is a town in Northern Italy, and over 50 years ago at the conclusion of the second World War, a forward thinking phychologist named Loris Malaguzzi re-imagined education for children that would forever change the landscape of teaching and learning in the early years.

Reggio is not a model, or a system that can be...

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Nature Play + Loose Parts: Invitations to Create

If you’re looking for Reggio-inspired ideas and activities this fall, look no further than a nearby park, forest, creek or riverbank for this season’s most inspiring Invitations to Create. There is so much inspiration to be found in nature, and so many learning connections to be made. As a big proponent of using loose parts (open-ended objects that can be re-purposed and re-imagined), we find so much inspiration in natural objects to bring home and use in new ways.

Unplugging and connecting with nature is so important for children of all ages. In fact, being outdoors supports development in so many areas: intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual and physical (Kellert, 2005).

In this post, I share some of our favourite ways to incorporate natural elements and loose parts into learning, in a Reggio-inspired way.
 

Texture Scavenger Hunt

 
Invitation:
 
Nature is full of wonderful textures and colours!
Let’s go on a scavenger hunt to...
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5 Creative Projects with Driftwood

Driftwood has to be one of my favourite art materials. It’s free, beautifully organic, and involves getting out into nature to collect it.

Every spring, I take the girls on a driftwood hunt on the banks of Winnipeg’s Red River. On these nature walks, we usually end up discovering much more than driftwood, which always leads to other investigations and learning.

In my work with children and families in classrooms and child care centres, I have used driftwood on several occasions. Here are a few examples.

Planted Texture Trees

The child care centre I was working with was looking to have more colour in their space, but were limited with what they could hang or affix to the walls. Thinking outside the box, we decided to bring colour and visual interest in a unique way.

We chose to create a collaborative “forest” - children used driftwood branches to work together to add layers of texture, fabric, wire, beads, feathers and other embellishments. We layered the...

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Why I decided to start a school

From the time I can remember, I had wanted to become a teacher.

Teddy bears, Cabbage Patch Kids and Care Bears lined up in a row, seated before the giant chalkboard my dad had found at a garage sale. This was how I played every day. Even my little brother got a front row in my classroom {much to his chagrin}.

I don't know if it was my mother's influence {a well-respected teacher, now-turned-Education Consultant}, or the fact that I loved nurturing all those stuffed characters, or because I had the most  amazing Nursery School teacher who was way ahead her time; but I knew with all my heart, THIS was what I was born to do.

Upon graduating from University with my Bachelor's of Education {and a major in Art}, I set about finding a job teaching Art at the Elementary level {my wheelhouse}. There was no such role at the time. High school art teachers were a plenty, but in the Early Years, where I knew I wanted to be, this was an untapped, unprecedented idea.

So, I happily accepted...

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