Reggio in Action
Taken from an Italian story and expanded for example:
The next exploration/provocation in the 4 year old classroom is shadows, the introduction is made by the teacher/co-researcher by taking a walk outside, looking around, exploring the environment (the third teacher) and noticing this image connected to you… “what is that?”, “it’s moving with me”, “it’s a shadow”, “what’s a shadow”, “it’s me”, “it’s following you” “it moves with you” “look, look” “it’s on the ground” “everyone has one” “look, mine can run and jump” “the tree has one too”… the discussion continues.
The class discovers shadows by experiencing and interacting with them, looking at each other’s shadows, the shadows thrown by trees, birds, the playground. Inside the classroom they take this conversation to paper, to clay, to dough, to the overhead projector. Clay figurines held in front of a torch throw a shadow, hand puppets create a shadow, glass beads placed on the overhead projector throw a shadow. Paper is used to draw our shadows, black, coloured or white paper, large or small paper?
The Story of Two Little Girls
Two little girls draw their shadows.
The first child’s image has the shadow’s head connecting at the feet of the child. The child is outlined (not coloured in) and the shadow is outlined.
The second child shades the shadow in black, however it is drawn parallel to her outlined image and is not connected.
The teacher/co-learner explores the drawings with the girls, asking questions, and listening to the answers, asking for more detail for further clarification (and documenting the results).
She asks the girls to go outside to check their accuracy of their shadow drawings. The second child comments on the first child’s drawing. She says “your head shouldn’t be at your feet, your shadow’s feet must be joined to your feet, and it also be black, not white. And the sun, the sun must be in your picture, it causes the shadow”. “No” says the first child, “it looks like me so it must be this way”, “No” says the second child, “look here” and she points to the connection made between the feet of the child and the floor, and the shadow. The first child then re-draws her images and the teacher notes the relationship made between the sun, the child and her shadow, the concept is understood by the child.
The first child comments on the second child’s drawing, she says “your shadow isn’t connected to your body, it is black, but it must be connected”, instead of re-drawing like the first child, she cuts out her picture of the shadow and pastes it in place, she also includes the sun in her picture.
These children have helped each other, by firstly having a concrete experience of shadow work, and interpreting it through movement and drawing, reflecting on their work, collaborating on improving their drawings, debating it, and understanding the greater connection to the world (including the sun).
How amazing is this type of learning!