One of my take-aways from Reggio Emilia is that we look for a “red thread” of interest that we then follow with the children. We are currently following a “red thread’ of interest in eggs and of all the creatures that hatch from eggs. We began with birds, for they are our most obvious oviparous creatures, since we look at the eggs that the chickens offer us that are so easily accessed in the grocery stores. All of the children have observed bird nests in their yards, and some have watched the hatching of baby birds in nests in their yards.
Part of Reggio is providing the children with the opportunity to explore a range of activities that will stretch their imaginations as well as their understanding. From creating “eggs” of papier mache to building a nest on our science table, we are thinking about all that is involved in hatching eggs. We have an incubator that is home for 12 fertilized eggs, and we are checking the temperature as well as the humidity of the incubator to make sure that eggs have the optimum environment to produce baby chicks. We are also learning about other creatures that come from eggs, such as reptiles, butterflies, insects, and amphibians. The children will construct from clay creatures that could hatch from the eggs they have made.
When we think about the thread that we could follow with a look at eggs, our thread could snake around to focus on reptiles, or the thread could lead us to an in-depth look at the camouflage of eggs, or could evolve into a study of nests. This is one of the beauties of the Reggio Emilia approach, in the fluidity of the evolution of the studies undertaken. The interests of the children help create the shape of the study, which is constructivist education at the core. With one study, such as our beginning with eggs, we have the opportunity to involve writing, art, reading, and science as we are writing poetry about eggs, reading about eggs, watching the incubation of eggs, and creating eggs and nests. This wholistic approach is one that children embrace, for it is the way in which they approach life. For young children, life is not compartmentalized into separate disciplines, but flows as an organic whole, and they are able to see the whole picture.