Nature Play On Vancouver Island

Nature Kindergarten On Vancouver Island

Story Play invitations In Kindergarten

My early learning program has always included small world play as a learning centre for my kindergarten students however after visiting Reggio Emilia, Italy to study their program, I returned to Canada excited to make changes to my program which reflected increased time for exploration  with my students.  

I returned to Reggio Emilia the next year with the  intention to focus my professional learning on documentation and exploration play. It was an exciting opportunity and my third journey to the Reggio Emilia Opal School in Portland was postponed due to the outbreak of Covid-19. 

One of the first changes that I made to the program was Story Play. I continued my learning with course work offered through the  Opal School (a small pre-k- gr 5 North America Reggio Emilia focus school with a strong partnership with RE) to deepen my understanding with Story Workshop and to further understand the perspective of student led learning through exploration of rich materials. At the Opal School Story Workshop grew out of Writing Workshop and  is comprised of a class meeting to discuss their ideas, story play followed by a writing component and ending with students sharing their work. Like my schedule they  also include a generous block of time for the children combined with teacher encouragement and support. 

After this I was hooked and knew that it was going to be a primary focus of my kindergarten program. My passion for  exploration combined with a love of outdoor learning and Reggio Emilia Inspired programs has transformed my work both as an educator but also as a consultant. Each year I work with a learning cohort of teachers passionate about their work and excited to make a change such as adding Story Play to their program. Every other year I offer a five part learning series on Reggio Emilia Inspired Programs for local preschools and elementary schools.

Over time it has become our morning soft start and continues until the children's stamina reaches it peak much like other parts of our days together. During this time the children are growing in so many important ways; oral language, building relationships, negotiating, increasing stamina, imagination, knowledge, social skills and so much more. I find that at this time of year the children have begun to create stories throughout their day, during exploration, writing, outdoor play and quiet play.  Story Play is infectious!!  It is truly joyful to observe children so engaged and connected to each other.

Each morning before the children arrive, I set up invitations  throughout our  classroom trying to capture the 100 languages of children (RE) which may include drawing, painting, clay, creating, light play and open ended loose parts. The resources include a variety of man made, recycled and nature materials. I have many different writing materials throughout the space including markers, pencil crayons, crayons and pencils. Then as the children transition into the room. I am ready for observations, taking videos or photos, to document their learning and scribing stories as requested.  I also support as needed to encourage and extend their learning. This is always my favourite time of day and for many it has become their favourite as well. It is a very relaxing and joyful way to begin our inside morning.

What are you doing that inspires joy in your learners?

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