This blog post was written by experienced teacher Heather McAvan, founder of Mrs Mactivity who will have a feature area at the upcoming Childcare Expo Midlands.
5th July 2019
Working in Early Years really gives you the best possible opportunity to see children at their most creative; using their natural curiosity and innate skills to develop friendships, learn about the world around them and teach us a thing or two in the process.
Working with young children gives you a unique insight into the world, the human brain and the way we learn best, and it has been pretty much agreed on that children come on leaps and bounds through play and child led learning. That’s not to say however that we can’t help them along the way and model how to seriously play (not play seriously!). Opening their minds up to different ways of looking at the world, and prompting extra thought and discussion around how things work and why that might be bring children’s learning on tremendously.
What is the Reggio Emilia Approach?
At Mrs Mactivity we’ve been thinking about this, and how we can help Early Years practitioners develop the skills to enable children to be as creative as possible in their approach to play and learning, and we decided that the best way to do this was through the philosophy of the Reggio Emilia approach.
For the uninitiated, the Reggio Emilia approach is a philosophy that encourages children to self direct their learning as they have the innate skills and curiosity to express their ideas and be naturally creative in areas such as art, painting and drama. It also emphasises the importance of respect, responsibility and community involvement.
The approach was developed shortly after World War 2 in the Reggio Emilia area of Italy – hence the name. Practitioners are expected to guide and observe rather than direct, and children should be provided with outdoor and indoor spaces with free access to stimulating resources.
How can we implement the Reggio Emilia Approach in our setting?
The philosophy behind provocations encourages us to set up activities that are beautiful and inviting. If it looks like something you would want to play with, so will the children! Remember that this is simply an invitation to explore and investigate, so try to avoid setting up the activity with a pre-determined outcome in mind. The children should lead the learning, with the adults there to support and scaffold play and development opportunities.
Not sure where to start? That’s where we come in! As luck would have it, we have provided a series of Early Years Provocations that aim to “provoke” thought, creativity, play and more, inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach. We have also provided key questions, prompts, supplies list, set up instructions, photos, and links to Early Learning Goals and Early Years Outcomes.
Our Early Years provocations can be used with any flat surface or tuff spot tray – we have used the word “plan” to describe these resources, though of course they should be personalised around each setting and should be used very much in a child led way, with the supplies that you already have in your setting or in the natural environment nearby.
For ease, we have divided our Early Years Provocations into short, easy to read versions, and longer more detailed versions – useful for anyone new to this approach to learning.
Our Tuff Spot Tray Playdough Provocation Plan Pack uses children’s natural love for playdough to inspire thought and learning.
Whilst our Tuff Spot Tray Weighing and Sorting Provocation Plan Pack is great for stimulating thought around mathematical language.
If you prefer something very VERY creative, try our very popular Tuff Spot Tray Transient Art Provocation Plan Pack.
And all of these provocations are also available as one page versions here too – for at a glance set up when you’re in a rush.
Have a go – you’ve nothing to lose, and your children will love their new tuff spot trays and learning stimuli.