Small World Play Provocation

 I haven't been here for a while!  However, I'm here now.  Hasn't life just been so full and interesting and kind of hard this past year?  As I reflect, I realize that all I can do is to do my best at my four days of work with under 3's, run my small business on the side, and keep my house somewhat together, thankfully with a helpful partner.  That kind of sums up my last year. It's been super hard to not see family up close but oh, so thankful for the technology of Face Time that brings us closer.

Here we all are a year in to this Covid-19 pandemic and all that it has brought to our world. I think we are all coping as best as we can with the information we have.

Covid aside, I thought I would share something that is going on in our Infant/Toddler room that I hope is going to be super interesting and fun.

We are just on the cusp of starting a Project which is an integral part of the Reggio Emilia approach.  We talked together as staff and realized that our group of children is quite interested in the world beyond our daycare yard. Our daycare yard is located part way up a mountain and so we have a great vantage point and a wide scope.  

One day I wrote down some ideas of things that we have already seen the children show interest in. I wrote the list on behalf of all of our team and invited everyone to contribute more ideas as they think of them.  One person added sounds!  What a great observation as the children are very aware of the different sounds around them and will often run to the fence to see vehicles drive by or point to airplanes flying by.

*vehicles = construction vehicles, vehicle in the parking lot, city buses, rescue vehicles, school buses

*nature = mountains, lake, trees, birds, rodents, weather changes

*walks = going to parks, yellow line walk (around the parking lot), around our center, walk to the tennis courts, walks around the neighborhood

*garbage truck = taking garbage to the dumpster, picking up garbage we see

*Sounds = airplanes, helicopters, vehicles, people, birds and more

Because infants and toddlers are still so young, what they are interested in is not always evident.  So our challenge as a staff of starting a project with this age group is to observe what they are saying, playing and what piques their interests.  We can also try some different things to see what they are into.  All of the things listed above are things they have shown interest in so far.

We have a little one that has a very strong interest in birds.  He shown this interest for quite a while and lots of his favorite books have birds in them. One of my co-workers had the idea to hang up some simple bird feeders created out of egg cartons.  Some of the toddlers spooned seeds into them and they were hung up in our trees. We have been watching for the birds to come and some of us having been calling the birds! We didn't see any visitors for a while and then one day a co-worker saw a lovely little bird stop by and she got a picture!  I think it was a chickadee. 

 I thought that it might be a fun idea for all of the children to set up a provocation.  A bird provocation.  I gathered all of the resources around my home and our center and made a display.  We like to support imaginative and creative play in our room, so the pieces are meant to be moved around and handled.  The children can take them around the room and use them how the want to. I'm hoping to get some video of some of their play.  Yesterday, when they first discovered this scene they were very interested in all of the different birds and the nests.  They picked up the birds and moved them around into the various nests.

I wonder what will happen next.  I'm hoping to be able to document some of the things we see them doing with this small world play and decide if we want to continue on this interest of birds.

I added in a lot of natural materials such as bark and wood pieces.  I placed some white fabric on purpose,  as we still have snow in some places and I was trying to make the scene correspond with our nature outside.  Some of the other fabric was gold and brown and black as we have mud and dirt galore.  The grass hasn't come back to life yet.  I did add green even though our trees have not leafed out yet but we do live on a mountain and have a lot of evergreens.

The painting in the background is a collaborative art project that a co-worker did with the children.  It took quite a few sessions to complete and is quite beautiful in my opinion.

The little small world scene in the middle, created by one of our staff,  is a mix of nature bits such as stones, branches, bark and fake flowers and a few nests.  The pieces are mostly glued in place.  The children are very attracted to the little nests.

Have you done any projects with children?  

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