The Reggio Emilia approach focuses on three types of teachers: the child, the environment, and the curriculum (with the classroom educator as its steward.) Since Yo Re Mi is an original program that combines yoga-based movement and music education, when we incorporate the Reggio Emilia approach, our curriculum-based classroom activities become even more fun and engaging!
This collaborative, emergent approach lends itself to individualized expression and communication, and fosters listening, collaboration as well as group problem-solving. Effort is central to the experience - the play-based learning is process-oriented. The goal is not a final result - more important is the making, doing, trying, exploring, and noticing.
Teachers carefully document the process so the children can reflect and inquire further. The classroom teacher’s language is free of judgment and in service of helping the children reflect on their process and determine how they might explore further.
Here are 3 of our favorite Yo Re Mi classroom activities which utilize the Reggio Emilia approach:
Our classroom adventures invite the children to decide important elements, like which modes of transportation we will creatively employ to travel, or what we’ll see when we arrive. The class is arranged in a circle so it’s easy to share ideas through voice, sound, body movement or facial expressions.
1. “If I Could Be Any Animal in the Jungle” Encourages Imagination and Creativity
Reggio-Emilia inspired classrooms provide scaffolding and guidance while children figure out what to climb and how to build their experience.
“If I Could Be…” is a great bit of scaffolding. By giving children several places to provide their input, we encourage them to bend, ply and manipulate the song to their heart’s content.
Each child in the class has an opportunity to share several ideas about an animal - they can decide 1) what kind of animal to be, 2) how to describe themselves, 3) what activity they would do in the jungle, and 4) what movement will represent that action. Our video example is teacher-led, but in a classroom, the children take the reins!
Here are more animal poses that you can introduce to the circle, also allowing children to alter the song and movement as they see fit.
2. Rhythm Sticks for Fun Classroom Activities that Use Repurposed Materials
A Reggio Emilia classroom is full of open ended materials. These are objects, manipulatives, found materials that have no rigid, defined purpose.
A classroom will be full of natural and easily repurposed materials like pinecones, sticks, blocks of many varieties, or my recent favorite, brainflakes. Open ended materials can be used in many, many ways.
One day the pinecones are birds eggs in a shredded newspaper nest, the next day they are jewels dangling from a a pool noodle necklace. A great way to introduce open ended materials in your classroom, is to read “Not a Stick” by Antoinette Portis.
We use rhythm sticks to explore. They are small dowels which can be tapped together to make a satisfying light percussive sound. But in a Reggio classroom, rhythm sticks become airplanes, telephones, chopsticks, whatever you imagine. Children explore letters and how wooden sticks sound different when tapped on different surfaces.
You can explore rhythm sticks in our video above, but make sure to freestyle some inventive “not a stick” moments. Sometimes I get a phone call on one rhythm stick from my mom, who’s making cupcakes, and on my other rhythm stick-phone, I get an invitation to a birthday party!
3. Storybook Yoga in the Classroom
Children are master devisers! Using a popular children’s book, invite children to create the characters and identify movements and actions for them.
All the more fun with neutral costume elements like fabric and scarves, or open-ended materials like blocks, paper and tape to create scenic elements.
Read the story in a circle, collaboratively devise some movements, and then sit back while the children create a world of adventure! Some children would prefer to create songs for the animals, or make sound effects. Not all ideas will look or sound the same!!
Which Reggio inspired classroom activity will you try first?
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Dan Costello is a professional musician, music educator and certified Children's Yoga Instructor (KAY) specializing in early and elementary education.
A music teacher for ten years, Dan has developed music education curriculum which combines movement-based activities, joyful sing-alongs, and songwriting.
Dan plays piano, guitar, clarinet, drums, ukulele, and just about anything he can find. He plays in bands and writes songs for children and adults. His favorite songs are the ones we sing together.