There was more to see today than I can adequately process, for finally we were in a school where the children were present. There was much to process about the experience but some of my clearest images were of the happiness of the children and the peacefulness of the atmosphere. There were a number of rooms that the children were able to move between, so we never saw a full class all together. Some were building with styrofoam blocks adorned with animals and lace fabric, everything in white, while a springtime picture was shown on the overhead projector behind their work. This building went on for most of the morning, and some children would leave and others would take their place, adding their own magic to the mix. Other children were using clay to make a model of a lettuce leaf that was in front of them. In another area children were looking at some pictures they had taken of someone doing a somersault (a sort of “how to”) and were attempting to draw each frame of the picture. In yet another area the teacher was working with a group of children who were using pen and ink to draw some lichens. Still others were at the glue, tape, and marker table where they were devising their own creations. Everyone was busy, everyone was engaged—it looked like choice time spread out into a number of areas.
After spending 2 hours in the classrooms, we spent 2 hours on those little kindergarten chairs as we talked about what we saw, and asked questions of the teachers, just as the CMS teachers love to do after spending time watching us in Reader’s and Writer’s Workshops. Someone finally had to come into the school to tell us that the bus had been waiting for 10 minutes!
One of the primary tenants of Reggio is that the classroom is the third teacher, and it was completely in evidence. Beauty was everywhere, in every corner. Flowers, branches, plants, shells, rocks, small mirrors…everywhere you looked was inspiration. I wish I had been able to take pictures here, but you aren’t allowed to take photos anywhere that children are located. I did manage to take one, however, of the “squat toilet” for the adults in the building.
After coming back to the Center, we walked to the Recycling center which is has a partnership with the city as well as the Children’s Center. Over 200 businesses donated their castaways which are organized in a warehouse. The teachers and any of the town’s citizens are welcome to come at any time to gather any cast off treasures to use in their art projects, in building, or in any other way imaginable. The array of materials was mind-boggling, ranging from cast off plastic glasses to empty 8 mm film rolls to big rolls of fabric and plastic. All of these materials were in evidence today in the school—nothing went untouched. Children used the styrofoam and cups in their buildings, the fabric was used as curtains to divide the spaces, and the vinyl was used as a canvas for painting. I’m seeing the world through new eyes, my friends!