Learning through Light

The Reggio approach (as outlined in our previous blog) puts children at the centre of their own learning. The ethos is based around a hands on approach to learning, with art, materials, and loose parts used to create learning opportunities and encourage critical thinking; but one thing we haven't touched upon much is the use of light as a material.

If you explore our rooms at inspirations, or the photography on our Instagram and website you will see there are projectors, light boxes, and sensory dark dens throughout all of our spaces from the Baby Rooms up to Pre-School.

Why do we use light and shadow?

In the younger rooms the use of light cubes, fairy lights and projectors invite children to expand their natural curiosity and encourage babies to engage and remain focused for a longer period of time. As well as having a calming affect, this sensory experience also provides a different perspective, allowing the child to develop creative and critical thinking.

In the Toddler and Pre-School rooms we use over head projectors, torches and mirrors to allow the children to deepen their knowledge and understanding of light and space. Have you ever witnessed the first time a child acknowledged their own shadow?

Seeing their reaction just highlights the  sense of magic and wonder that comes with light play. In the Reggio Approach we talk about natural objects a lot, and sun light alone is a completely free resource that should be utilised to support learning. Light and shadow can be a source of intrigue as children notice the way in which light changes the way things look. It gives the child the opportunity to witness the illumination of things around them, predict patterns, test their ideas and develop new concepts.

This week we will be setting a camera up in the sensory light room of our Baby Room to capture just how our little ones interact with the lights.

 

At home why not set up an activity for your child based around lights, shadows or reflection using mirrors, we would love to be tagged in a photo of your activity on tapestry, Instagram or Facebook. 

“light and certain light phenomena are central protagonists and highlight the extent to which expressiveness and beauty can accompany an understanding of scientific thinking.” - Vecci (Reggio Atelierista)

For more reading on this topic you can find 'Art and Creativity in Reggio Emilia: Exploring the Role and Potential of Ateliers in Early Childhood Education (Contesting Early Childhood)DF' on amazon. 

- Nathalie (Atelierista)

 


The Town of Reggio Emilia

The Reggio Emilia Approach

At Inspirations Nurseries and Forest School we follow the Reggio Approach to learning, but what's the back story, what are the circumstances that led to this approach being created?

Following the devastation of World War Two, Reggio Emilia and its neighbouring Italian cities were left war torn. The war left merely a foundation upon which to rebuild a town and a community from scratch, a place free from oppression, injustice and inequality. This brought together a community of people passionate to form a new educational system with the very little they had; with the aim of turning their future generations into capable, resourceful and resilient individuals.History and philosophy - The Reggio Emilia Approach: An Enrichment Case Study

Local men and women of all ages came together to create a school for young children using materials from bombed out buildings. So from the very beginning these Reggio Emilia children were shown that something can be made from nothing, that creativity, perseverance and determination leads to opportunities and possibilities, and that anything can be made from the materials naturally surrounding us.

At inspirations we immerse ourselves and our children in this resourceful and passionate mind set, we too are a community that learn together, explore boundaries and strive to reach our full potential together.

http://www.inspirationsnurseries.co.uk/news-and-blog/loose-parts/

As described in our previous blog, loose parts are a huge part of the Reggio Approach but there are many other aspect that guide our environment, planning and learning opportunities here at our Horsforth and Adel settings. 

'The Real Thing'

Instead of plastic play food, cups and jugs in the mud kitchen and home corners we use real fruit and veg, real plates and utensils. There are so many more learning opportunities that come from using real up cycled natural resources, they can peel, cut, weigh and smell real fruit and vegetables, and real pot and pan will also teach the children the value of an object. They are more likely to handle real objects with care, value and precision than with a light plastic alternative.

The role of our educators is to listen to the children, to be present, challenge their ideas, and extend when learning opportunities arise. This brings us back to the importance of community within our setting, we as educators are here to be present with the children and to create learning opportunities in their environment for them to discover the answers them selves. When a child has the opportunity to discover the world independently, and learn answers through trial and error with the support of our educators and natural resources they grow up as capable, creative and resourceful humans, just like the inspiring people who came together to create the first Reggio Emilia Schools from the ground up. 

We must credit the child with enormous potential and the children must feel that trust. The teacher must give up all his preconceived notions and accept the child and a co- constructor’ –Loris Malaguzzi

Our Horsforth Setting is located next to Hunger Hill Woods on West End Lane, to get in touch email kayleigh@inspirationsnurseries.co.uk

Our Adel Setting is located next to St John the Baptist Primary, to get in touch email deborah@inspirationsnurseries.co.uk

 - Nathalie (Atelierista)

 


Loose Parts for Learning

Something Out of Nothing

‘In any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of 
discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it.” - Simon Nicholson

As the changing seasons are constantly providing us with natural loose parts, at Inspirations we are constantly adding to our materials and resources, reinventing the classroom and replenishing our supplies. We are always on the look out for cable reels, pallets and tyres locally to ensure our environment is a constant source of stimulation. SCRAP (Scrap Creative Reuse Arts Project Ltd) is one place in particular that provides us with many open ended resources, and this week was time for another haul.

Since 2004 SCRAP has been a social enterprise based in a creative space at Sunnybank Mills, Farsley, Leeds, and if you haven't been we thoroughly recommend it.

Want to know more about our nursery? Call 0113 2585800

Viewing Objects in a New Light

There's something about walking into SCRAP that ignites our imaginations regardless of age. Being surrounded by so many types of materials sparks joy and opens up a feeling of endless possibilities, it invites you to see the magic in objects  that would otherwise be discarded. Scrap is a place that encourages us to view old objects in a new light, and it is exactly what we aim to do at Inspirations Nurseries.

It was Simon Nicholson who developed the theory of loose parts in 1971, he proposed that open ended materials could empower young children creatively, and that the presence of such materials and objects inspire children to construct, manipulate and transform through self directed play. The idea of loose parts goes far deeper when we consider it being combined with additional sources such as gravity, music, light and shadow which we will look into further as we move our focus to include the Reggio Emilia approach as a whole.

Here are some of the items we got from SCRAP this week, which have been implemented into each room. This week we will be recording ways in which our children use some of these items in play and how they adapt them for construction, art projects and role play. We will share this footage on our Youtube and social media accounts so stay tuned.

There's something very inspiring seeing how children can make something out of 'nothing', and this is a reminder that people of all ages need to allow time and space to make connections between all the little things that our larger ideas are built from.

- Nathalie

 

Scrap is open to the public Weds - Sat, and includes a reSTORE eco friendly refill store. Please ensure you are wearing a face mask due to the current restrictions or you can buy one there from a selection of handmade reusable materials. 

https://scrapstuff.co.uk/

For more information about our nurseries call us on:

Adel: 0113 2612262

Horsforth: 0113 258 5800

 


Loose Parts In A Basket For Learning

Loose Parts

Why do we use loose parts?

Loose parts are a significant segment of our ethos at Inspirations Nurseries. Before moving away from conventional toys, we did a lot of research into the benefits of using loose parts. Several education pedagogies use loose parts. Reggio Emilia and loose parts complement each other well; we use both at Inspirations. Both philosophies support open ended play using natural resources, imagination, and creativity. When children are given opportunities to engage in free play with little adult direction, they are able to explore freely with creativity and expression, because there are no limitations or expectations.

Loose Parts Basket from the Hedgehog Babyroom

What are Loose Parts?

Loose parts are open ended materials that can be moved around, designed, and redesigned. They create opportunities to use our imaginations and discover new ideas. Conventional toys are fixed for the one purpose they were made for, whereas loose parts are open ended and can be used for a variety of things. A plastic car can only be a car. A stick could be a magic wand or a person or you could use a number of them to make a house… the possibilities are endless. Ask any parent how long their children will play with the cardboard box a toy comes in on their birthdays. Loose parts can be found anywhere. How many of us remember going to the beach and collecting shells and stones and making patterns with them? You can find loose parts in the house, in the garden or on a walk. Loose parts include both manufactured and natural resources. These can include stones, pinecones, rings, balls, blocks, boxes, leaves and even nuts and bolts.

Endless Possibilities

For outdoor play, we provide a variety of large loose parts such as tyres of different sizes, milk crates, planks of wood, cable reels etc. In our baby rooms, we use a variety of loose parts to support schemas; we use things like curtain rings to hang on mug trees, balls to post through holes, tyres to encourage rolling. Toddlers can then use slightly smaller loose parts such as pebbles to create patterns and smaller wood slices for counting. Preschool are able to use more intricate loose parts such as beads, small tiles and items they find on forest school.

The founder of the Reggio Emilia Philosophy said...

  “Children need the freedom to appreciate the infinite resources of their hands, their eyes and their ears, the resources of forms, materials, sounds and colours”.

-Kayleigh

 

See loose parts in action in our Pre-School room here- https://youtu.be/Nngfh6Uj-yw

 

All photos from Inspirations Nursery

Tiny Happy People

The Duchess of Cambridge is once again shouting out for children in their early years by supporting the BBC’s Tiny Happy People programme.

The BBC website offers suggested activities and play ideas for babies and toddlers with an aim of enhancing their language and communication skills. With the tag line: ‘Your words build their world’

Here at Inspirations we understand the importance of children’s communication development. If a child has a deep knowledge of words and language, they are better enabled to understand the world around them. We support our youngest children through songs and rhymes which is a brilliant way to engage young children in the rhythms and tone of speech. We have a ‘Babies Can Sign’ specialist in weekly to teach the educators and children sign language. Sign language is a visual aid (so are pictures in books etc) which enhances a child’s understanding of words before they are even able to talk! This gives them a head start in understanding words and their meaning. Reading books with a supportive adult and using the pictures as a tool to support understanding is also a vital in developing a child’s communication skills.

We also ensure that we make eye contact when talking to children, at a level where the child can see your face clearly, this allows the child to gain an understanding of nonverbal communication, it gives the child the ability to understand the emotions behind the words and also the way the mouth shapes make the different sounds. Eye contact and close physical contact for babies and toddlers is also essential for them to feel safe and secure. Humans don’t learn, if they are feeling insecure or unsafe. Maybe this is why baby wearing has taken off in such a big way in recent years.

Our ethos of ‘enabling environments’ and the offering of a variety of different activities including messy play, singing and signing, water play, light and shadow exploration and of course our outdoor areas, (which gives the children the experiences of different weather types), when supported by a vocal caring adult expands and enhances each child’s exposure to new vocabulary, intonation and rhythm of speech.

 

For further information on the Duchess of Cambridge’s collaboration with the BBC please and also some fantastic activity ideas for you to do with your child, follow the link to the website. https://www.bbc.co.uk/tiny-happy-people


Butterfly at our Nurseries and Forest Schools near Leeds

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Number Frames

Resources – chalk, spring finds, or alternatively pens and paper

Implementation

Draw 10 grids of 10 boxes and number them 1 to 10. Add the amount of items to match the corresponding numbers into the boxes.

If your child is working on numbers to 5 just draw 5 boxes, similarly if your child is working beyond 10 add more larger boxes.

 

Intent- Learning Goals

Maths – Numbers

30-50 months

  • Uses some number names and number language spontaneously.
  • Uses some number names accurately in play.
  • Recites numbers in order to 10.
  • Knows that numbers identify how many objects are in a set.
  • Beginning to represent numbers using fingers, marks on paper or pictures.
  • Sometimes matches numeral and quantity correctly.
  • Shows curiosity about numbers by offering comments or asking questions.
  • Shows an interest in number problems.
  • Shows an interest in numerals in the environment.
  • Shows an interest in representing numbers.

40-60 months

  • Recognise some numerals of personal significance.
  • Recognises numerals 1 to 5+
  • Counts up to three or four objects by saying one number name for each item.
  • Counts actions or objects which cannot be moved.
  • Counts objects to 10 and beginning to count beyond 10.
  • Counts out up to six objects from a larger group.
  • Selects the correct numeral to represent 1 to 5, then 1 to 10 objects.
  • Counts an irregular arrangement of up to ten objects.
  • Estimates how many objects they can see and checks by counting them.
  • Uses the language of ‘more’ and ‘fewer’ to compare two sets of objects.
  • Says the number that is one more than a given number.
  • Records, using marks that they can interpret and explain.
  • Begins to identify own mathematical problems based on own interests and fascinations.

 

 


Make your own Leaf Man

Resources: Leaves, paper, glue,

Implementation

Lots of children have been sharing their leaf play and discoveries with us. We hope you enjoyed our Leaf Man story read by Nicola, you can find it here- 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLEMeqLITwo&t=20s

Go for a walk and look for Autumn leaves and have a go at making your own Leaf Man, don't forget to ask your children some questions along the way. Below we have listen the criteria of learning development this activity meets. 

  • What does Leaf Man look like?
  • Who will you make?
  • What will you need?
  • What could you use to make their face?

Intent – Learning Goals

Moving and Handling

22-36 months

  • Shows control in holding and using jugs to pour, hammers, books and mark-making tools.
  • Beginning to use three fingers

30-50 months

  • Uses one-handed tools and equipment

40-60 months

  • Uses simple tools to effect changes to materials.
  • Handles tools, objects, construction and malleable materials safely and with increasing control.

Literacy

22-36 months

  • Has some favourite stories, rhymes, songs, poems or jingles

30-50 months

  • Describes main story settings, events and principal characters.
  • Shows interest in illustrations and print in books and print in the environment.

40-60 months

  • Uses vocabulary and forms of speech that are increasingly influenced by their experiences of books.
  • Enjoys an increasing range of books.

Being Imaginative

22-36 months

  • Beginning to use representation to communicate, e.g. drawing a line and saying ‘That’s me.’

30-50 months

  • Captures experiences and responses with a range of media, such as music, dance and paint and other materials or words.

40-60 months

  • Create simple representations of events, people and objects.

Exploring and using media and materials

30-50 months

  • Joins construction pieces together to build and balance.
  • Realises tools can be used for a purpose.

40-60 months

  • Understands that different media can be combined to create new effects.
  • Manipulates materials to achieve a planned effect.
  • Constructs with a purpose in mind, using a variety of resources.
  • Uses simple tools and techniques competently and appropriately.
  • Selects appropriate resources and adapts work where necessary.
  • Selects tools and techniques needed to shape, assemble and join materials they are using.

 


Spring Colour Hunt

Resources: Pens or paints, paper/card, glue and natural loose parts

Photo credit: earlyyearsoutdoor

Implementation

Paint some colours or a rainbow onto paper, see how many natural items you can find outdoors to match the colours, then stick them to the matching colour. There are some beautiful spring colours to find at the moment.

What colours do you have to use?

What colour would you like to have?

What colours could you mix to make this colour?

What colours did you find?

What colour items did you find the most of?

What else can you see in the environment that are these colours?

Intent – Learning Goals

Expressive Arts and Designs – Exploring and using media and materials

22-36 months

  • Experiments with blocks, colours and marks.

30-50 months

  • Explores colour and how colours can be changed

40-60

  • Explores what happens when they mix colours

 

Understanding the World – The world

22-36 months

  • Notices detailed features of objects in their environment.

30-50 months

  • Comments and asks questions about aspects of their familiar
  • world such as the place where they live or the natural world.
  • Can talk about some of the things they have observed such as plants, animals, natural and found objects.
  • Developing an understanding of growth, decay and changes over time.

40-60 months

  • Looks closely at similarities, differences, patterns and change.

 


Leaf Weaving

Resources – sticks, leaves and string

Implementation

This activity needs a lot of focus, time and adult support when needed, but is a great activity to encourage concentration and fine motor control. It can be made simpler with less string to thread through.

Make a square with the sticks and string, then tie lengths of string across to weave the leaves through. There are lots of leaves around of varying colours to make colour patterns, what do you observe when you look through it at the sun?

Intent – Learning Goals

Characteristics of Effective Learning

Being involved and concentrating

  • Maintaining focus on their activity for a period of time
  • Showing high levels of energy, fascination
  • Not easily distracted
  • Paying attention to details
  • Finding ways to solve problems
  • Finding new ways to do things

Keeping on trying

  • Persisting with activity when challenges occur
  • Showing a belief that more effort or a different approach will pay off
  • Bouncing back after difficulties

Enjoying achieving what they set out to do

  • Showing satisfaction in meeting their own goals
  • Being proud of how they accomplished something – not just the end result
  • Enjoying meeting challenges for their own sake rather than external rewards or praise

Making links

  • Making links and noticing patterns in their experience
  • Making predictions
  • Testing their ideas
  • Developing ideas of grouping, sequences, cause and effect

Choosing ways to do things

  • Planning, making decisions about how to approach a task, solve a problem and reach a goal
  • Checking how well their activities are going
  • Changing strategy as needed
  • Reviewing how well the approach worked

Finding out and exploring

  • Showing curiosity about objects, events and people
  • Using senses to explore the world around them
  • Showing particular interests

Being willing to ‘have a go’

  • Seeking challenge
  • Showing a ‘can do’ attitude
  • Taking a risk, engaging in new experiences, and learning by trial and error