There is a knight in the hallway. He really is hard to miss.
He greets the preschool students as they arrive in the morning. In The Nest, we are currently involved in a medieval study. In true Reggio style, we have a multifaceted approach. The knight is a provocation, a way to invite curiosity and excitement into the environment.
Have you seen the stained glass windows?
Groups of students have been working on these beautiful pieces as they learn about stained glass. Soon an expert will come to visit. She designed the stained glass windows at the local synagogue. After she speaks to the children, we will take a field trip to the synagogue to get a first-hand viewing of real-life stained glass. We will talk about what we know.
Other field trips have been fruitful for learning. In the blocks area of the Trees class you will see the tower that is being built in the round with unit blocks. This is similar to the one students observed on their trip up to Stevens where they saw the gate house.
Research leads to new understanding and children often return to their work to make more drafts, to refine their ideas. Groups of children keep returning to work on the tower, to improve it based on what they learn.
In drama, students act out a story of a prince, a princess, a witch and a tower. Can you guess the story?
“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair to me!” calls the prince.
As teachers start and continue different projects with the Sky and Trees students, they place students with strong skills alongside those who would benefit from some extra practice.
Teachers look at student interests and set up small groups so they can share ideas, investigate, and collaborate together in their learning. This is part of a Reggio Emilia design called progettazione.
The study or project is shared with the class. The Rapunzel drama was shared recently to a very appreciative audience.
These are the 21st century skills, so often spoken about in education, being put into practice at our youngest ages. Children solve real problems and develop strategies. How do you make a round building with straight blocks? How big would a lance need to be if the knight in the hall needed to use it? Could we use the dialogue from drama to make a book?
Children also learn to collaborate and persevere as they dig more deeply into a project. As they take trips and interview experts, read books and look more closely at images, their knowledge and their capacity to create a more effective design in their projects increases.
All along the way they are working on communication and fine motor skills. Learning about long ago and far away helps in vocabulary development, cultural knowledge, and having a shared experience which is new to almost all students.
This kind of exploration develops passionate learning.