Last week we were propelled forward into our inquiry on how water play sparks connection and builds relationships in our center. We observed the interactions of team work and collaboration taking place around the water table. We reflected on the inspiring words written by the Reggio Emilia theorist Loris Malaguzzi in the 100 languages, motivated by companionship unfolding silently between toddlers enabling one another to reach success through materials presented at the water table. In the National Association for the Education of Young Children Journal Loris Malaguzzi wrote “We consider relationships to be the fundamental organizing strategy of our education system. We view relationships not simply as a warm, protective back drop or blanket but as a coming together of elements interacting dynamically towards a common purpose.” (Malaguzzi, 1993)
With these stories and sagacious words in mind this week we welcomed our first snow.
The playground was alive with the children's cooperative play, children organizing one another to reach common goals; shoveling pathways, digging tunnels to find dinosaurs and unicorns, scaffolding igloos, snow creatures, snow speedbumps, and spackling over endless muddy puddles with snow.
The educators wondered if these partnerships of play and cooperating chatter would continue to take place if the element of snow joined our transition inside. Snow was scooped into our water tables and heuristic play materials consisting of metal scoopers, tea pots, and bowls were carefully selected by the children in the Maple room. In the Saplings room, metal scoops were switched for plastic ones.
In each room two compelling stories involving intrinsic interactions between older and younger children unfolds.
In the Maple room two children who rarely cross paths come together sharing a common interest to interact with the snow. The fact that S. is an older sister shined through as she gently spoke to J., passing him the materials that she could see were out of his reach. She watches intently as he curiously interacts with a teapot. She doesn’t intervene but empathetically coaxes him into navigating the device. It's easy to marvel at how in tune she was with knowing what his interests, needs were, and how at the same time she respected him as capable, never talking down to him, but treating him as an equal.
In the Saplings room N. and W. work beside one another building little snow castles. L is intrigued by the chatter and crawls over to investigate. W. and N. pause to observe an educator making snow castles and L. mashing them down. Their game changes then, and they begin working together lining these castles up along the table closer to L., watching contentedly as she begins to pat them down. This dance of building and smooshing goes back and forth, L. alternates between her shovel and her hands to pat down the snow, W. and N. working seriously and then sharing moments to giggle.
These stories are interconnected as they show us how relating to one another is imperative and innate in young children. The sense of community that the children experience amongst each other scaffolds critical skills such as language, self-worth, creativity, and empathy. The British Columbia Early Learning Framework writes about the impact of early social relationships providing a foundation for wellbeing and belonging. “By developing responsive relationships with adults and peers, each child feels a sense of well-being and can contribute to the well-being of their family, community, and society. This confidence is essential for children as they explore their capacities as family members, friends, thinkers, citizens, and discover their connections to the natural environment.” (B.C Early Learning Framework, 2019, page 67).
These two stories illuminate the significance of interactions that cultivate curiosity, compassion, and acceptance towards others.
British Columbia Early Learning Framework 2019 Edition, retrieved from:
Malaguzzi, L. (1993). For an Education Based on Relationships,
The National Association for the Education of Young Children, 49 (1), retrieved from: