Saturday, January 26, 2013

Finding Inspiration at the Reggio Children International Center

"A place of the possible. A place that keeps the central focus on children and their potentials, that aims to offer opportunities for creativity to children, youth, and families, and new opportunities to the international educational community and to all those who embrace and pursue learning and innovation."

We visited the Reggio Children International Center aka Centro International Loris Malguzzi several times. The building itself is quite impressive, combining old and new materials and incorporating lots of open space and natural light. The kids quickly felt comfortable and inspired just being in the building. Savannah says, " I wish this was our home." Brooke says after visiting. "I like Italy, its nice." I never thought I'd say this, after how much work our last building project was... but I now have the itch to own a property again, build or renovate something to create this type of space for our family.

We came to Reggio Emilia for the purpose of learning about the Reggio method and to consider enrolling the kids in school. While after much consideration, we decided not to stay, we'll leave inspired in ways we didn't expect. I am so glad we came and saw with our own eyes what its all about.

The first few visits, we had lunch and were then on our own to explore. The cafeteria as they call it, offers delicious fresh food loaded with vegetables, similar to what is served in preschools here. 

Kids creative area attached to the cafe under a wall of windows. Connecting the indoors with the outdoors is an important consideration in space design.

The infinite possibilities with wire.

I didn't find anyone to ask about what was available to touch, where to go, so we just explored and tried not to disturb anything. One of the other aspects that I find interesting... Kids are allowed to play with equipment like projectors, expensive microscopes, computers, tools, wires, as well as natural materials.
Recycled car parts.

Brooke just loves collecting and creating with natural materials.

Clay is a creative medium used a lot. A very impressive collection made by 4-6 year olds.
Discovering light, a very important  aspect of their classrooms. I am going to be forever more observant of the amazing features of light and incorporate it into our play.

An activity for visitors of all ages. Draw or write what you wish for the upcoming year. 
Brooke got to show where she wanted her wish to be displayed on the board among people from all over the world. 
On the third visit, we were able to go on a guided tour of their atelier (workshop) of light. Unfortunately  photos weren't allowed. An hour was not at all enough time. The girls could have probably stayed all day playing with light, recycled materials, microscopes, and all kinds of various materials. 

We then discovered this area upstairs, which were told was fine for the kids to play in. They loved this space filled with soft furniture to imagine all kinds of fun and games. 

Look! A swimming pool!
This open area with all the light and space where the kids can play and I have a space to work attached, this is where I started to dream about building a place like this. 
The idea is that kids have an innate drive to play on furniture and move it around and it should be encouraged...

The girls came home inspired too. I had absolutely no involvement in this. Working together to make T's with clay balls, "T's with chickenpox."

So, we had a tough time with the decision not to stay and enroll the kids in school after so much planning and work to get here.. But, everything happens for a reason!

They have both been very interested in picking fruits and veggies from the Fruit and Veg market down the street and helping with dinner.

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