Setting up a Reggio-inspired Activity

How to Set up a Reggio Activity - An Everyday StoryStart with a Question

Reggio inspired activities are about exploration and discovery; exploring with their senses, asking questions, testing theories, making plans and thinking deeply.

When you are setting up a provocation (an inquiry or discovery activity) have a think about some of the questions your child has been asking lately.

What have they been wondering about?

  • They might ask your straight up, ‘Why does my shadow stick to me?’
  • They might say a statement, ‘Hey Mummy, look at my shadow when I wave my arms.’ Or
  • You might notice them doing something intently, like playing with their shadow

This is your cue, your opportunity to provide an experience which will engage their interests.

Exploring birds nests - An Everyday StoryFind out what your child already knows

Once you have identified an interest, get some idea of what your child already knows about the subject. Depending on their age you can:

  • brainstorm where you discuss what you know and make a mind map
  • for younger children, what they understand will probably come through in their play, drawings and paintings

Take notes to help you plan

Take notes of what your child already knows as well as any misconceptions they may have. This will help you to plan an activity/inquiry that really relates to what your child knows or wants to know. 

Plan your Activity

Now thinking about what they want to know and what they already know, you can start to plan your activity/inquiry.

Decide on the type of activity

Reggio Activities - Natural Lavender PlaydoughWhat types of activities does your child enjoy? There are a thousand and a thousand more activities out there but no matter how beautiful the picture looks, if your child isn’t interested in it then that activity isn’t going to engage them. Any subject can be explored in a multitude of ways; this is The Hundred Languages of Childrenthe cornerstone of the Reggio Emilia Approach.

What kinds of activities engage your child’s sense of wonder?

How to set up a Reggio activity - An Everyday Story

 Gather your Materials

Now you can start gathering your materials. What you will need will depend on what you are exploring.

Head out and about:

  • If your subject is something real (in nature or around the neighbourhood), head out for a walk, if you can, to explore the real thing
  • Connect the walk/outing to your child’s interests:
    • ‘You were asking about ant nests yesterday. Let’s go for a walk and see if we can find some.’  
  • Take along a notebook and pencil for sketching
  • Some binoculars and a magnifying glass (if useful)
  • and a bag to carry any treasures and go explore
  • Listen to what your child is talking about, notice what they are doing, these little clues will help you to continue the exploration when you get home.

Art Explorations:

Authentic Art Materials for Toddlers Part 3 - Paint - An Everyday Story 1

 Other Explorations:

  • look for authentic materials, open-ended materials and ones which invoke a sense of wonder and discovery
    • natural materials – pinecones, seeds, nuts, leaves, sticks, birds nests, shells…. any and all natural materials are wonderful tools for exploration
    • loose parts – glass gems, felt balls, fabric pieces, string, ribbon, cardboard… beautifully textured materials of all different shapes, sizes and colours for imaginative play, model making, design and pattern work and sensory explorations
    • open-ended toys – blocks, animal figurines, puppets, dress-ups, real musical instruments, non-fiction books, music

Setting up an Activity (a provocation)

How to set up a Reggio painting activity - An Everyday Story

As much as possible, try to include natural materials in your activity. Natural materials are not only beautiful, they appeal deeply to our senses; their colour, texture, smell and even taste are far more engaging than plastic alternatives. Baskets and bowls as well as glass vases can be picked up inexpensively at charity stores.

Try using:

A Reggio Math Provocation from An Everyday Story

How does the activity look?

When you are arranging an activity, think about how the activity looks.

  • Does it make you want to play too?
  • Would you be attracted to this activity?
  • Can you see everything that is available?
  • Do you have some idea of what you might do with this activity?

Define your work area

Next, define the work area. When you define the work area with a mat or a tray you draw your child’s attention in, they will move to that area. Try using:

Reggio Activities - Natural Lavender PlaydoughUsing Mirrors

Finally, mirrors. Can the activity be enhanced at all by adding a mirror? Is there an aspect of the activity which would benefit from being seen from another perspective?

So these are my thoughts on putting together a Reggio-inspired activity. Reggio-inspired activities are so engaging, they really make you want to get right in there and explore. So have a go and let me know how you went.


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