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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