Tag Archives: portland reggio inspired

Nature Walks

By Megan

Now that the Elm House children are all a bit older and have more endurance, we will be taking small groups on walks around the neighborhood. Our intentions here are to notice the natural worlds wonders, gather natural materials to enhance our curriculum, to chart the growth of new gardens and to connect with the people in our neighborhood. In the past stroller rides have been our primary way to explore, and we will still ride for longer adventures, but we see real value in the exercise that they will get in even walking a few blocks and the change in perspective.

We took our first walk today! Hope you enjoy these photos.

Do you have a favorite house in the neighborhood that has a great yard? Or do you know of a secret garden? Let us know the location in the comments section.


“No pants! No pants!”

by Mage

“No pants!” Lucy said, as she spread orange paint all over her body. “I want some more [paint]!”img_3021

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“We saw seeds.”

by Mage

This week we have been talking about pumpkins, making predictions about what will be inside, and then opening them up and inspecting them. Today we opened a second pumpkin in our backyard.


Mage: Do you remember when we opened the first pumpkin? What did we find inside that pumpkin?
Isaac: We saw seeds.
Mage: And what do you think will be inside of this pumpkin?
Isaac: It will have more seeds in it.
Mage: I’m looking inside the first pumpkin. What color are the insides? (Holds pumpkin out toward children)
Isaac: It’s yellow.
Mage: Yellow. And what color do you think this new pumpkin will be inside?
Isaac: Orange.
Mage: Your prediction is that the inside will be orange and have seeds. Let’s find out what’s inside!

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by Mage

In the Seed’s room, we have lately been bringing in one or two of the older children each morning to hang out with the Seeds and act as role models. This choice was made, in part, to prepare both the more experienced children and the newer children for eventually sharing space together full time. The idea is to work on their cooperative skills. The children are given a choice of whether to join the Seeds or stay within the Elm room in the morning, and so we sometimes have students who repeatedly want to go to the Seed room, while others visit only occasionally. We are trying to encourage each experienced child to visit at least once, and so far it’s going really well!

This week I began to push the idea of mentoring and being teacher’s helper more than in previous weeks. So I actively talk to the children during their play about their responsibilities to show the younger/newer children how we share toys, sit at the table, put clothes on, etc. I am also actively encouraging them to help the other children with tasks that the Seeds would normally ask me to do. Here are two examples of what I mean by that.


Lucy passes Zachary his diaper.

Whenever we go to change diapers, I ask the older child to pass out the diapers to the Seeds. So far all of them have loved this, and they all know exactly who gets which diaper (amazing!).

Another example is when we are in the cubby room, putting on shoes and coats. I’ll ask the older child to pass out shoes and coats, and suggest helping the children put their clothes on or take them off.


Sen skillfully removes Nina’s coat and shoes.

I’ve been finding that the more I encourage the children to help, the more they find ways to mentor the children on their own. When we were headed outside, I heard Sen encourage Nina to come out through the door with us. “Come this way, Nina!” And later, when Nina was struggling to get out of a heavy chair and she was looking to me for help, Lucy said, “I’ll help you, Nina!” and pulled out her chair for her. The children are self-motivated to care for each other and take pride in their growing abilities and sense of identity as more experienced toddlers.



Lights, camera, action

by Mage

Hey families,

Bit of a long post for you today.

If your children were here last year, you probably know about the light studies that we worked on with the children, especially with the overhead projector and flashlights. You may also know about the full body painting, which many of the children participated in.

This year I’ve been focusing a great deal of my thoughts in developing curricula based on rituals or traditions at Elm House. Although we are only in our second year, I think it is a good time to think about what experiences we want to repeat with the children (both new and returning), and make room for new experiences that we might repeat every year.

One of those rituals is full body painting, which the Seeds this year have done a couple of times, including earlier this week. However, we did it with a bit of a twist this time, as we decided to involve a web cam and a projector.

If that sounds like a curious choice, you might be interested to know that this was inspired by project work that Sarah Lu and I saw when we visited Reggio Emilia earlier this year. Across the many schools in RE, teachers and students were experimenting with digital technology. We saw several intriguing videos about projects the students participated in, and one that stood out for us featured a class of toddlers having their first experience with a web cam and projector.

Sarah Lu and I were both excited by the possibility of incorporating these tools at Elm House. We thought we might start off by combining full body painting with the web cam and projector, because it might extend the painting experience or amplify the children’s connections with their bodies and with one another through interacting with projected images of themselves. Meanwhile, Sarah Lu recorded the whole activity on video.

So here are a couple images of what that looked like.

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If there is one thing I have learned from working in RE inspired schools, it’s that children will always surprise you. It’s a bit of a mantra, really.¬†Children will always surprise you. Come with your own expectations about what might happen, and prepare to be wrong, maybe delightfully or disappointingly so. Don’t get too attached to your ideas!!

In this instance, while I had a few different predictions about what might happen, I was surprised by what the children actually did. I thought they might be either fully engaged in the painting, or disengaged from it. I thought they would either be completely intrigued by the projection, or totally ignore it. What happened was more of a wibbly-wobbly dance, where some of the children were curious yet tentative about the paint, some of them noticed the projections and yet showed little reaction, and one of the children wanted nothing to do with the whole mess (and I thought this child would get covered in paint).

It’s OK when our experiments don’t turn out as we expect. If you follow the scientific method (which I try to), then you know experiments must be repeated to test a hypothesis. You would also know that experiments generate further questions, especially if they fail. And this practice of experimenting is especially important when educating young children, in my opinion, so that we collectively come to understand one another better and perhaps change our approach or focus to something more relevant.

Long story short, we are going to repeat this again, but with other children and with some slight space modifications. We want to learn more about how children interact with projected images, with light, and how digital technology might intersect with art and social connection. So we are hoping that another trial involving a couple of older Elm House children might provide more answers (and questions) and open up different ideas for future light and digital technology explorations.