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Exploring Light & Shadows: A Reggio Provocation

‘In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.’ – Aaron Rose  (just ask a child).  If you haven’t already noticed, light and shadows are simply magical to children.  Perhaps this is why the Reggio Emilia approach greatly values using light as a material or ‘language’ to help support active investigation & discovery.  Today’s post is a simple example of how to provoke a child’s curiosity by using light.  I hope it inspires you to try this Reggio provocation with the children you love.

P.S.  The girls switched shirts half-way through the initial provocation so it’s possible that I have made a couple of errors in identity!

 

On alternating Wednesdays I blog about a Reggio Emilia Provocation

 

This week’s Theme: Dinosaurs

Description of Provocation: Exploring Light & Shadows: Provide flash lights, dinosaur figurines, crayons, wall mounted blank paper

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 2 years+ 5 months

 

Initial Topic (Observe and question your tot about a topic of interest)

  • The girls have shown a significant amount of interest in shadows lately.  As we’ve been going on walks they’ve been experimenting with their own shadows and have been waving sticks around and tossing rocks to try to track shadows as they move.

Materials (This can include anything)

  • For the light component, I chose flash lights
  • For the shadow component I chose dinosaur figurines because that is what we’ve been learning about.
  • I also included crayons and wall mounted paper.

Set-Up (This should be visually appealing and intriguing)

  • Where?:  I chose a space with little natural light (the darker, the better)
  • Workspace: I defined the workspace using green painter’s tape to outline the drawing space.  I placed a piece of slate as a platform for the dinosaurs.
  • Display:  I displayed the dinosaur figurines, flash lights & crayons on two levels to make it more visually appealing.
Display with the lights on

Display with the lights on

Display with the lights off and shining a flash light

Display with the lights off and shining a flash light

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Observation (Observe your tot interacting with the provocation you have set up.  Remember not to interfere or ‘teach’.  If you stay out of the way, you will be pleasantly surprised!)

  • What was interesting?  Manipulating the flash lights was the girls’ main interest.
  • What was asked? Can you turn off more lights?  Can you make it darker?
  • What was said? Some noteworthy statements were: “I’m finding a treasure”, “I can’t find my shadow”, “Shadow is bigger now”
  • What was done? There were three main areas of interest. (see below)

#1 – Experimentation with shadows and drawing – I had the display set up in the dark with the flash light shining so when they came upon it, they immediately showed interest in the shadow.  I showed them how we could trace the shadows.

O shines the light close to the dino

O shines the light close to the dino

O shines the light from a distance (the sun was bright)

O shines the light from a distance (the sun was bright)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

O experiments with two dinos

O experiments with two dinos

O attempts to create moving shadows.  She manipulates the dinosaurs (finding food) in front of the light. (Unfortunately the light wasn't shining in the right direction.

O attempts to create moving shadows. She manipulates the dinosaurs (finding food) in front of the light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mommy traces the shadow

Mommy traces the shadow

Mommy traces again.

Mommy traces again (at their request)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M wants to try tracing

M wants to try tracing

O shines the light on M so she can experiment with her arm's shadow.

O shines the light on M so she can experiment with her arm’s shadow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2 – Experimentation with light – This included shining the light on different surfaces, waving it around to try to follow it, attempting to illuminate darker spaces, etc.

O observes the light

O observes the light

O holds the light against the ground and lets the light peak out

O holds the light against the ground and lets the light peak out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M dangles the light and watches it move across the floor

M dangles the light and watches it move across the floor

Next, she places a dinosaur there to see what happens

Next, she places a dinosaur there to see what happens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M shines the light in my boot

M shines the light in my boot

O goes under the table to dry to get in a darker space

O goes under the table looking for a darker space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M was shining the light through the holes in the laundry basket

M was shining the light through the holes in the laundry basket

 

#3 – Imaginary play – Using the flash light to go on a treasure hunt (I didn’t get any good pictures of that part)

 

Extension (Based on your observations, add new materials as needed)

  • New Materials: The new materials were a total lack of light & a discussion about palaeontologists.  Because the bulk of their excitement revolved around manipulating the flash light, wanting it to be darker and pretending to go on a treasure hunt, I decided to set up a palaeontological exploration (at night time, of course!)
  • What Transpired?:  When it got dark, I hid dinosaurs around our home.  We talked again about what a palaeontologist is and played a game of ‘hot and cold’ in the dark, using the flash light to find the dinos.  THEY LOVED IT! (oh, and my camera battery died!)
Searching under a bed

Searching under a bed

We found one!!!

We found one!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our culminating activity this Friday will be creating a shadow puppet theatre for our dino figurines.  This will be a great extension to O’s idea of trying to create moving shadows.  She really wanted to play with the dinos and watch their shadows move as she did so.  She adjusted the light a couple of times but wasn’t able to achieve the desired effect, so this will be right up her alley!  We hope to see you then!

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Exploring Measurement: A Reggio Provocation

Here it is! Another example of the amazing results of a Reggio Emilia provocation.  No matter how many times I do this, I am in awe of what transpires.  A Reggio provocation is characterised by its unbounded, limitless potential – a true reflection of a child. It is just so exciting to watch unfold!  If I haven’t expressed it enough, PLEASE, try a Reggio provocation with the children you love – they will astound you in more ways than you could imagine! – In more ways than they already do!  Children have so much to express, give them the opportunity!

On alternating Wednesdays I blog about a Reggio Emilia Provocation

This week’s Theme: Bed Time

Description of Provocation: Exploring Measurement: Provide measuring cups, rulers, soft (tailor’s) measuring tape, numbers (plastic, foam, magnets, etc.), feathers (variety of sizes and colours)

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 2 years+ 5 months

 

Initial Topic (Observe and question your tot about a topic of interest)

  • The girls have shown a significant amount of interest in bird nests over the last couple of weeks.  Also, we went shoe shopping for Mr. Y, and the girls LOVED measuring their feet at the store.  Last, they really enjoy putting measuring cups in order.

Materials (This can include anything)

  • For the measurement component, I chose measuring tools (measuring cups (plastic & ceramic), straight rulers & a tailor’s tape measure)
  • I chose a variety of bird feathers because I felt that would relate to both the bird nest interest and our bed time theme (because feathers are often used to make pillows, blankets and even beds!)

Set-Up (This should be visually appealing and intriguing)

  • Where?:  I chose a space with natural light in a fairly open area.
  • Workspace: I defined the workspace using place mats.  I laid a ruler on the mat horizontally and I also placed some magnetic numbers vertically along the side of the mat.
  • Display:  I displayed the measuring cups on the wall using hooks – to add a 3D element – (plus they like manipulating things on and off hooks).  I displayed the feathers in blocks of colour on a clear plastic tray (or in small buckets)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Observation (Observe your tot interacting with the provocation you have set up.  Remember not to interfere or ‘teach’.  If you stay out of the way, you will be pleasantly surprised!)

  • What was interesting?  Initially, M was interested in the feathers and O was interested in the measuring tools
initial contact

Initial contact

"measure," said O

“Measure,” said O

O inspects the ceramic measuring cups

O inspects the ceramic measuring cups

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"What is this?" asks M

“What is this?” asks M

M manipulates the feathers

M manipulates the feathers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • What was asked? The only question I recall from them was M asking, “What is this?” (in regards to the feathers.)  I answered her and asked her, “Do you know what a feather is?”  “No,” she said.  So I gave a brief description (including that we use them to make pillows/blankets etc.) – this did not incite any interest at all.
  • What was said? So much was said, it’s really difficult to relay.  I think it’s best to illustrate some of the main ideas of what was said, into the ‘What was done’ section below.  This is why it is really important to take notes!  You cannot remember it all!
  • What was done? A LOT!!!  None of which I anticipated.  (I haven’t written them in order of occurrence, I’ve written them from smallest amount of interest to largest.)

#1 – Butterflies!  O makes the connection that feathers are used to fly and butterflies fly so we can make butterflies out of these feathers:

"I make a butterfly!" says O

“I make a butterfly!” says O

 

#2 – Time for a pedicure!  M decided to use the feather as a nail polish and then decided that the other feathers should be my toe separators!  (I can’t believe I’m showing the world pictures of my unkempt toenails…but in the name of education, and M’s brilliant idea, I am!)

M carefully places the toe separators

M carefully places the toe separators

M paints my nails green

M paints my nails green (I paint their toes green!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

# 3 – O’s invention.  O strung the measuring tape through the cupboard handle, stood back and said, “Watch!”.  Then she pulled the door open proudly.

O pulls the measuring tape taut

O pulls the measuring tape taut

1-2-3 Pull!

1-2-3 Pull!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#4 – Measuring.  This was mostly driven by me.  I asked O, “You said measure before, what is measure?”  She said, “I can measure all my things!”  “Yes you can!  But what does measure mean?”  “I don’t know,” she said.  So I gave a brief description, “Measuring is how big or small something is.”

I said, "This feather goes to 7, and this one goes to 4.  Which one is longer?"

I say,”This feather goes to 7, this one goes to 4. Which is longer?”

"Which measuring cup holds more?"

“Which measuring cup holds more feathers?”

M wanted to wrap the measuring tape around her. (6 times)

M wanted to wrap the measuring tape around her. (6 times)

 

#5 -IMAGINARY PLAY (this was the big one!)  They decided they were going to make a castle.  The play then revolved around Santa coming to visit this castle.  It went on for ages!  I got to sit back and watch.

"We make a castle here." (The measuring tape is the main structure)

“We make a castle here.” (The measuring tape is the main structure)

"We decorate the castle."

“We decorate the castle.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"I make a map so Santa can find us"

“I make a map so Santa can find us”

"This is where Santa can sit"

“This is where Santa can sit”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Shh! Hide under here. Santa will come and we can see him."

“Shh! Hide under here. Santa will come and we can see him.”

 

Extension (Based on your observations, add new materials as needed)

  • New Materials: Because the bulk of the initial interaction revolved around a castle, we did a bit of picture research on castles (Google Images search).  They pointed out their favourites – coincidentally, one they chose was a castle I used to live near! (I didn’t even see it until they pointed it out).  I also added blocks.  Next, I lessened the amount of feathers and measuring equipment.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • What Transpired?: Castle building……
"This one the best"

“This one the best”

"This one my favourite"

“This one my favourite”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castle #1

M builds

M builds

M adds 'flowers' to the castle garden

M adds ‘flowers’ (feathers) to the castle garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M uses a green feather as a hose to water the flowers (making a sound effects as she did it)

M uses a green feather as a hose to water the flowers (making sound effects as she did it)

M is jumps  'because the castle is so strong, so it won't break when I'm jumping'

M jumps “because the castle is so strong, so it won’t break when I’m jumping”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castle #2

O & M made this catle together

O & M made this catle together

O says, "this is where you skate" (I think she was referencing Disney's Frozen)

O says, “this is where you skate” (I think she was referencing Disney’s Frozen)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castle #3

O explains "this is trick door"

O explains “this is trick door”

"I open trick door, people is coming out"

“I open trick door, people is coming out”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M adds Princess Ariel "to live in the castle"

M adds Princess Ariel “to live in the castle”

I mention that where Ariel is sleeping, looks like this bridge

I mention that where Ariel is sleeping, looks like this bridge (the castle that O said is the best)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…..after I said that….. O decides to make it.

Castle #4

O carefully constructs

O carefully constructs

The castle's bridge

The castle’s bridge

O's bridge (same rectangular shape)

O’s bridge (same rectangular shape)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The castle's door

The castle’s door

O's door (it has the same arched shape)

O’s door (it has the same arched shape)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

O's towers (same cylindrical shape)

O’s towers (same cylindrical shape)

M came over with a tiaras for us to live in the castle.  So that makes me the Queen Mum! LOL!

M came over with tiaras “for us to live in the castle.” So that makes me the Queen Mum! LOL!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is what I found when I woke up this morning:

O does some sorting

O had done some sorting

 

Once again, their ability to independently blend their creativity and knowledge astounds me!

 

Click here for more Reggio Emilia!

Click here to see how Reggio fits into The Crystal Teaching Method’s overall philosophy!

Click here to visit our shop!