The addition of Natural Pod’s Play Loft has brought many rich changes to our physical environment and to the class. When I initially made the decision to purchase the loft I was excited for several reasons. Not only was I excited to be supporting a local company that I believe in and to be adding such a beautifully made piece of furniture to the class, but I was also excited for the many ways in which I knew it would deepen and expand the children’s play.
After assembling the loft in the classroom over Spring Break, we could hardly wait to see the children’s response. Not only were we curious about what they would say, but we were deeply interested in seeing how they would interact with this new addition to our classroom space.
The installation of the loft naturally created a change to the physical space. It sparked inspiration to rearrange the classroom environment and in doing so, opened up new possibilities for the children’s exploration and play.
In the Reggio Emilia approach, they speak of the environment as being a “third teacher.” This is something that has always resonated with me and is further outlined in the paragraph below:
“When you walk into a Reggio Emilia School it’s easy to understand why the Reggio Emilia approach considers the school environment to be the “third teacher.” Much attention is paid to the look and feel of the classroom. The objective is to create a pleasant atmosphere, where children, families and teachers feel understood and at ease. The environment is seen as a significant element of the education and a reflection of the school’s culture over time. The focus on the environment represents the value placed on aesthetics, organization, thoughtfulness, provocation, communication, and interaction.”
The addition of the play loft lends itself nicely to this idea of the environment being a third teacher. Not only does it offer a physical space to house the children’s creative and imaginative play, but it also invites the opportunity for collaboration, communication, and the children to interact with one another in newborn ways.
We take pride in drawing from the Reggio Emilia Philosophy and are constantly reflecting on how the environment can better act as a third teacher to support the children’s play.
In preparing for the children’s arrival, we purposely decided not to tell them what the new addition was and also decided not to have any rules around the loft to start. We were so curious to see how they would respond and didn’t want to to limit the possibilities for what it could be. We also didn’t want to set any parameters right away. We wanted to observe their interactions first and work with the children to establish any rules if needed. We have had conversations at circle time about the new addition to our class and look forward to continuing to observe and document their play.
Below are their initial reactions and conversations this week:
“It’s very high up here.”
“It doesn’t feel like a bed up here, Erin.”
“What is that?”
“What do you think it is?”
“Tell me what it is!”
“I’ve been watching this on Instagram!”
“It’s pretty high up!”
“This is our tree top.”
“I was so excited about it!”
“Can we keep it?”
“Vanessa, we’ll have that next Thursday?”
“It’s pretty spacey.”
“Come on, I have to show you my kingdom.”
“Some think that’s a castle but you can make it whatever you want.”
“It’s a castle!”
“I like it up here.”
“My fairy dolls like it up here too.”
“You might get one in your own backyard.”
“I want to stay here. I love this.”