PLAYING TOGETHER AT HOME
by Preschools and Infant-toddler centres – Istituzione of the Municipality Reggio Emilia, and Reggio Children
The suggestions we make here, for young (and not so young) children to play with everyday objects, are "questions" we ask children indirectly in order to support and encourage their discoveries.
It is a way of giving value to the marvelling and initiative typical in children’s strategies for exploring and knowing when they hold an everyday object in their hands.
These games can be played over and over because children, through repetition, organise their actions and new knowledge, and re-confirm them.
These games value the inventive, creative, and cognitive possibilities of objects found in our homes and used on a daily basis, but not designed for play.
SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR CHILDREN
AGE: 12-24 months
WHAT YOU NEED
If you look inside your cupboards and drawers you’ll find lots of everyday objects you can use to put together batteries that work as a sort of “palette” of objects.
Bottles in different shapes, funnels, strainers, lids, pans, clothes pegs, lenses, staplers, keys, tins, bottle-openers, food mills, potato mashers, graters, salad spinners, pastry tongs, cutlery, moka coffee makers, fans, folding rulers… and lots more.
Place the objects in a thoughtful context that will make children curious and encourage them.
The floor, for example, is a place young children at this age love and use a lot. Or you could place your objects on a side table, or on a rug.
Choose a spot in your home that is bright and gets the sun.
BATTERY 1: DIFFERENT SHAPED OBJECTS
This battery should be made up of a maximum of 4 or 5 objects all very different in shape. This is important for children to concentrate on exploring their differences.
A tin-opener (with open-close movement), a pizza or pie cutter (with a rotating wheel), a funnel (that we can speak, listen, look and blow through), a strainer (that could turn into a hat), a grater (very rough), and many others.
When children encounter the battery of objects for the first time it is important to let them have time for exploration.
Looking, touching, exploring, comparing and creating relations between objects, are all things children do spontaneously.
Then you can ask them:
> What is it in your opinion?
> What does it remind you of?
BATTERY 2: SIMILAR SHAPED OBJECTS
For this battery you should look in your drawers for lots of objects with similar shapes.
Clothes pegs and hair clips, tablespoons and teaspoons, lots of different kinds of keys in different sizes, and others.
Offering children several objects of similar shape is a bit like giving them building blocks: children will want to put them together, look for relations, make lines, and construct with them.
BATTERY 3: OBJECTS WITH THE SAME SHAPE IN DIFFERENT SIZES
For this battery try and find objects in your home with the same shape but in different sizes.
You might never have noticed them before but if you look you’ll find plenty.
Pan lids, different-sized sieves and funnels, food containers, plant-pot dishes and lots of others.
Playing with objects like these, children can try out different kinds of measurements.
For example, when they put one object inside another they are trying to measure size; when they make a line of objects they can measure their heights; when they make objects fall they measure their weight; and when they put one on top of the other they are playing with balance and equilibrium.
Children can put things beside, inside, and on top of each other – as well as creating improbable towers.
BATTERY 4: OBJECTS IN DIFFERENT MATERIALS
In this battery look for objects made of very different materials.
Wooden objects (wooden spoons), metal ones (graters), glass objects (drinking glasses), and plastic (lids).
Explore their multi or polysensory qualities with the children and make comparisons: it’s smooth, it’s rough, it’s warm, it’s cold etc.
> How heavy is it? (very, a little bit, not very)
> What sound do these make? (Wood with glass? Metal with glass? Wood with metal? What do these sounds remind you of?)
> What does it taste like? (sour, sweet, bitter etc.)
All the objects in your batteries have the potential to become “storytelling” objects.
Each object or movement of an object can spark fantastical stories, in which one "character-object”, as it goes along, meets with other character-objects.
And who knows what might happen then!