Creative Construction 2
Uppdaterad: jan 2
As promised, and with great thanks to Mia and Federika for their time when I visited and also for answering and translating my questions - which I now share for you all to read and be inspired by...
COSTRUTTIVITA’ at Nido Scuola ENI 06 in San Donato Milanese (MI)
Intentional choices are made regarding what materials to offer at the beginning of the new school year in each classroom based on a number of factors, including but not limited to their age, their thought processes, and the typical research interests of children in that age range.
Materials offered change and evolve over time, with some materials being phased out and/or replaced and new ones added based on the children’s play and exploration.
Materials are adjusted according to what the children use and don’t use ... taking away something they are not yet using or don’t have a research interest in and substituting another material that more closely fits their current research.
New elements are often added as a provocation.
Last year’s 3 year old class was particularly interested in roads and cities and conducted research in the neighborhood on a number of small group outings. They took rubbings of road textures, researched different types of roads, intersections and ways that landmarks of interest were connected. The children’s findings became part of the construction area in the classroom - road surface rubbings were laminated and included, as well as the photographs that children took of road details.
Aesthetic choices are also made with regard to what materials to offer with the underlying idea that children have a right to have beauty present in their lives, thus a harmonious relationships between materials is sought,
whether it be with regard to color, texture, shape, size, etc.
For example, in the current 4 year old classroom where are the construction materials are all white, the choice was made considering the relationship with the adjacent mini atelier where the central materials is paper. Additionally, one very important consideration was that of offering the children the opportunity to project digital images and video on the white surface of these materials.
The base selection of materials remains the same through out the years. For example, traditionally in the 5 year old classroom the materials offered are smaller in dimension for more detailed and intricate work. In the Nido Medi (21-32 months), the primary research theme is usually verticality. In the Nido Piccoli (3-8), the focus is on sensory experiences and beginning research on verticality.
Our “costruttivita’” areas are both areas for research and learning on the laws of physics, for example, and for creating scenarios for other types of play.
Usually in the mixed age classrooms (3-5 years and the new 2-3 years) constructions materials will change or at least be refreshed from year to year to renew the interest of returning children. Instead in the homogeneous classrooms, where the children change from year to year, the construction materials are more likely to remain constant.
It is noteworthy that for a 3 year period the 3-5 year old classroom did not have construction area within its walls, but rather the children were invited by their teachers to go and visit other classrooms and thus had an opportunity to use constructions materials.
The reason for this choice was that in the classroom, during those 3 years, the layout and furnishings did not allow space for a construction area. During this period of time, the children also had access to the (now former) Digital Atelier across that hallway where construction materials were offered in conjunction with digital languages.
Historically, based on the core pedagogical belief that as early childhood practitioners we care for all the children in our school (from infant-toddler program to preschool), we have sought out ways to connect children across the ages in shared construction experiences. Last year, for example, the Nido Grandi (21-32 months) and the 3 year old classroom collaborated on joint research on cities and roads inhabiting each other’s spaces, with younger children visiting the older ones and vice versa. For the Nido Grandi children, the experience was more about creating backdrops for their narratives. While for the 3 year olds, the research was more about plotting connections between the many important places in their lives: school, home, parent’s workplace(s), etc.
Where do the materials come from?
At the beginning of our school, some 10 years ago, the materials were sourced directly from REMIDA Reggio. Still today, on occasion, when we seek one of a kind pieces, our cooperative president, brings us materials on her weekly visits to out two Milan-area schools from Reggio Emilia.
Materials are also gathered in house by our kitchen and housekeeping staff - food containers, cardboard, paper and plastic trays. Personnel often gathers materials at home. And families are at times asked to collect specific materials to share with a classroom or the entire school.Though not relevant as far as construction materials, for the paper project which is still represented in the 4 year old classroom mini atelier, a container was placed outside the room in which parents were asked to share any recycled paper or colored paper they might have access to at home or at work.
Materials are also sources in collaboration with REMIDA Milano (which is housed within MUBA - the Museo dei Bambini or Children’s Museum) which 3-4 times a year gathers “new” industrial and artisanal waste materials on rounds in the immediate geographic area and makes them available to us for specific research projects that they children might be working on or to spark new interests.
Ideas we keep in mind with regard to construction materials and spaces:
1. The environment (or the third teacher)
2. Beauty and aesthetics
3. Heuristic and sensory exploration
4. And “Constructiveness” or costruttivita’