Uppdaterad: 2 jan 2020
While I was in Milan I was fascinated with the presentation of the construction materials in each classroom. There was a clear and distinctive aesthetic in each room. Some materials were the same but equally each space was unique and had access to loose parts that the other rooms did not...
I wondered about why this difference and also whether the materials followed the child or stayed in the room. If children got access to each other’s rooms - and how this would impact the play and construction in their own rooms.
there was not time during my extremely brief visit to get the answers - but they are in the process of being translated for me...
Then I had the idea of sharing my reflections based only on observations first and then when the translations get to me I can share these too.
I thought that would be interesting from the perspective of bias, interpretation and how we carry knowledge and experience that impacts how we interpret what we see.
i now have a heavily Swedish cultural bias to interpreting construction areas - but with a good portion of British understanding too - as my own childhood years were in the UK and my ECE masters is from a UK University.
In Sweden there is not the same access to wooden blocks in the same way as the UK, especially hollow blocks, and that has always surprised me as they would work so incredibly well in the Swedish preschool - both indoors and outdoors.
Sweden, though, does seem to have embraced digital play in the construction area much more - and I will be going into that in later posts... in fact one of the full day workshops I will be holding in Vancouver in February 2020 will be about weaving digital play into the early years...
Back to the construction areas in Milan - it would be an interesting idea for each room to have its own aesthetic and materials, that are added to in a meaningful and responsive way during the year - and as the children move from one year room to another they get access to new materials presented in new ways to challenge their thinking.
It would also be interesting if the children could revisit their old rooms and construct with the materials there again - would the new materials have allowed them to see the old ones with new eyes? Would they have a different sophistication to build with familiar materials? And if the school was to choose mixed age groups would the previous occupants of the class teach the current occupants? Or would the current occupants teach new ways of using the materials that the previous occupants had never thought of or took the time to test?
As an educator would you only provide visits for older children to visit their old construction areas - as a reflect, re visit and reconstruct? Or would you allow the younger ones to visit the construction areas designed for the older children too? What are the benefits or drawbacks of this?
Would children be allowed to mix materials? Take from one room to another? Or would it be better to do a big build in the piazza (shared space) with materials from all of their rooms combined? What are the benefits and drawback of this?
what I noticed is that in the 0-2 rooms this stylised approach to the construction materials was not apparent - and I assume this is due to the fact the main process in the first two years is to create security, string and safe relationships between adults and children and also between the children. For the very young there is already so much wonder, so much stimulus and so much new just by being at the Nido, so maybe there is no need to create the aesthetic of the 3-5 year old rooms..? Just enough materials beautifully presented in a friendly and familiar way to encourage exploration but also to encourage connection.
without further ado - here are some photos and reflections from Scuola D’infanzia Nido Eni 06.
Tubes, cardboard etc
In this room there were lots of ropes, string and threads - even children made lines...
Another room had a black and white aesthetic
Another room it was only white
Other rooms there were interesting textures
Then there were lots is small loose parts to add details...
natural light was being well used