The environment is the third teacher, all the keys to learning are contained within it. I am resident artist at a preschool where the learning is modelled on the Reggio philosophy. . We are exploring cloth, ” wrap” “rapt” in the outside play area, where the only pieces of play equipment are an old fashioned gate that delineates the grassed area from a natural shady area of rock, creek and trees, and a sculptural bower made of sticks. There are no toys in the conventional sense, the children find their own. Watching how the children interact with the gate, running, tumbling across the soft grass, locking out the monsters, until puffed they race back for a drink and begin again is a joy to behold, and adds gravity to those old fashioned and seemingly lost words of wisdom: “Go Outside And Play!”
The children have been gathering rocks, washing them, collecting baskets of different shaped leaves, looking at the multitude of caterpillars, butterflies and birds hiding silently in trees. They find sticks and rocks, pick leaves, then arrange them, exploring how they interact with water, salt and the runny paint on the pieces of cloth, and wonder what will be the next step in our creative project.