Reggio Emilia Talk at The Eric Carle Museum – October, 2011.

Dear Go Beyond The Classroom Members,

This talk was inspiring and here is a short list of what was discussed (Maybe Sonia can add to this, in case I missed something worth mentioning):
a. The evening started with introductions and a brief explanation of its format: two videos to be played twice and brief moments for pair share and Q&A;
b. Here are several points that came from the conversation with the speakers regarding observations of the Videos (the Diana Preschool (A day in the life of the school) and an infant toddler center:
  • Strong collaboration among teachers and children;
  • Aside from lunch and nap, there was no set schedule for the day;
  • Environment set-up: multi-disciplinary with very little behavior challenges;
  • Drop-off is always followed by a warm and engaging welcome by the teacher;
  • A member of the audience commented on how all children seemed confident and competent;
  • There seemed to have a strong element of trust between children and teachers;
  • Children stay with children for three years;
  • Materials: are always accessible, available and stay around so children can revisit them as needed;
  • Morning meeting: very informal. Children felt invited to come and those who didn’t find a spot on the risers, went back to the classroom and got themselves chairs. Everyone had a comfortable spot to sit and in this 4-year-old classroom kids were not sitting on the floor;
  • In the middle of the meeting the teacher tells a child that she won;t have time to take a head count and send the number to the cooks. The child volunteers to count them and reports to the cook right away;
  • Those children also help with the table set-up for lunch;
  • Clay is available in large amounts and with no tools (this reminded me of Sydney’s recommendations for delaying tools as much as possible). The children have large blocks of clay in the middle of their tables and help themselves to it as needed and/or as their projects change. Children were engaged in a horse study after having ended a chair study (several models of chairs made of clay);
  • At some point in the video, they show a floor map of the entire school. They placed dots to show us where kids could be found during the day (whenever not sleeping, or eating lunch): everywhere. The map showed children making choices from and abundance of opportunities to interact with the environment around them – including outside. This also reminded me of Sydney’s recent post regarding use of space including hallways, etc;
  • Amelia Gambetti: “play is the secret for opening up opportunities.”;
  • One person in the audience asked for clarification regarding projects (i.e. he claimed that it was misleading to say that the children always choose the projects on their own as he noticed teachers “leading” children in a certain direction. This video was produced in 2006 and the scene that caught his eye was about a teacher talking about soccer and asking questions to see where this would lead them. What the participant didn’t take into account was that 2006 was a soccer world cup year (and mind you that Italy ended up winning it for the fourth time!) and the children might have been talking about that event non-stop). Lella Gandini replied by telling him that there is a great deal of observation that goes on and if a teacher hears and/or notices that a child would want to explore a theme, he/she will ask first and then make plans to move forward – children are very much an active part of this process. The tonic of the evening revolved around observing and listening to find the moment when “children are ready” to engage in projects that they are excited about and can grow with them;
  • Amelia Gambetti added by talking about the “Pedagogy of Listening”, endorsing what Lella had said
  • Staff meetings focus on student development, projects. All meetings are child centered. Looking at them all sitting around one big table felt like this format is also conducive to engagement on the part of the adults as well – mind you that the children also sit around the same kinds of tables. Those teachers are living their philosophy thorough and through. Yes, I would agree that having the support of the administrators is quite the icing on the cake!
  • Amelia Gambetti answered a question about different contexts (a local lab school teacher shared that she wished they had large spaces like those in Diana Preschool. Gambetti said that it takes time, but responding to the context is possible. She described how when she first moved to the US to work at UMass/Amherst, at the lab school, she was given very little space, nineteen children, twelve student teachers, tight schedules and more. She said that she couldn’t actually “find the children” in all this, but she took time to observe, collect information and propose changes. She also emphasized that in order to implement this shift in thinking, we need to be respectful of children “in a holistic way without too much fragmentation.”
  • Amelia Gambetti also said that the goal in Reggio (at the Diana School and all others) is that the teacher is with the children all the time. As they get to know the children, the young ones, too, need to get to know the teacher. “It is the construction of many relationships that brings this together.”
I hope this leaves you with much food for thought. There are quite a few pics of the art studio but the auditorium was a bit dark and pictures were not permitted after the beginning of the talk – not to mention that flash photography had to be off. The first ones are of the art studio at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, MA. Children use the space and what is in it and the art educators rotate materials on a regular basis. This past week, visitors were invited to work on “punctuation mark art” – you can see that in the pictures. Then, there are a few of Amelia Gambetti and Lella Gandini and one quote from Malaguzzi’s visit to Illinois in 2003.

One side of the art studio at the Eric Carle Museum:

From collage week:

Colors by the window:

The whole picture:

Children make up designs on this black magnetic board:

The other side:

This is a picture book art museum so they always have a selection of books available for children to browse while in the studio:

Color jars with everyday materials:

Work left by young visitors:

Punctuation mark art materials:


The set-up:



A light table for toddlers:

Paper patterns made by Eric Carle:

Couldn’t resist: the restrooms have tiles with pictures from Brown Bear, Brown Bear:

Opening slide:

A quote:

Amelia Gambetti and Lella Gandini:

End of the evening:

One thought on “Reggio Emilia Talk at The Eric Carle Museum – October, 2011.

  1. Oh, thank you so much for “documenting” this event for all of us who could not attend. It is obvious that you put effort into your sharing. Loved the photos, especially of the tiles in the restroom!!!! 🙂 That’s something I would have photographed! Milllicent


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