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Posted on Mar 25, 2011

Early Childhood Learning

March 24, 2011

Part 1: Building Experiences

As noted in established literature regarding the Reggio Emilia philosophy, activities and experiences provide children with very different opportunities. The definition of an activity may be self explanatory, but an experience is worth describing—it emerges from children’s and teachers’ ideas and/or interests and is often inspired by children’s home life. It allows for deeper inquiry by being worthy of discussion, allowing for a give-and-take of possibilities, and requiring a respect for differing viewpoints. During prekindergarten’s recent Astronaut Day, children across three classrooms had just such an experience as they collaborated to build a space rocket. Before the event, Theron Royer asked each prekindergarten classroom about what materials might be appropriate for constructing a space rocket. From their ideas, he gathered materials, added a few of his own, and left the supplies in the center of the room. Each group of prekindergarteners rotated through Room 4 to contribute to the rocket’s assembly. Large pieces of cardboard framed the spaceship and smaller pieces became the instrument panel; crepe and tissue paper became orange and red jet engine flames. For better visibility, windows and a moon (not sun) roof were included, as were reclining chairs for comfort. The physical manifestation (the spacecraft) of their creative ideas has a lasting impact on these children as they become critical thinkers and builders of their knowledge. Alison Fleming Head of School
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