Friday, 11 July 2014

Pipi Whanau (Infant and Toddler classroom)

The Pipi Whanau is the infant and toddler classroom at 4 Kids . We are both inspired by Reggio Emilia and RIE in this room which I hope you will see through the photographs. I have only recently moved in to this room and alongside my team we have spent the last few months organising and rearranging our classroom. In a few weeks it seemed our class had evolved from being dominantly a toddler room to an infant and toddler room as a few of the older children moved through to the preschool room and two very young infants started. We really needed to rethink the space to accommodate pretty much all ages and stages from 3 months - 2.5 years. At the moment we have very young infants, crawlers and toddlers. It can be a challenge to create an environment that can provoke and inspire all these different children but we have given it a good go and it will continue to evolve!

We developed this area for our infants, the aim was to create a sensory space. The hanging materials are low enough that the infants can reach and grasp them. They all make different sounds and reflect the light in various ways. The tactile canvases are interesting for children as they learn to crawl and sit. The mirrors are low so infants can see themselves play during tummy time. Our toddlers have been just as interested in this area and use it in very different ways to the infants. They love to walk through the hanging materials and touch the canvases. 

Being RIE inspired, we believe children should have freedom to move so we avoid placing children into things they are unable to get out of themselves. The Pipi Whanau does not have any cots, highchairs or swings. We use these baskets as an alternative to cots. Each child has a frame above their basket with a photo of them and their name. Our children have ownership over their space which we believe creates a sense of security and familiarity for the children during rest and sleep times.

We believe it is important to provide children with places to retreat from the hustle and bustle of the centre especially since some children are with us for very long hours. The teepee has become a bit of a retreat for the toddlers and often we will find them in here just pondering quietly to themselves. We change it around but at the moment we have ribbons hanging and loosely placed on the floor and fairy lights pinned to the roof. 

Noah's Ark provocation. This is a familiar story for our children and perhaps one that may inspire their play in the construction area...

Tinfoil is a great medium to use with infants and toddlers. It is easy to manipulate and tear and it has some qualities that are very interesting to children such as the way it reflects and captures light. Our infants have been fascinated by the sound this material makes when they scrunch it, pat it and kick it with their feet.

This provocation is very open ended. The children enjoyed sorting the objects in to different containers and investigating the tactile nature of the materials. One of the older toddlers used these materials to make his own ephemeral art. 

As we all know, young children are very sensory learners. We want our classroom to reflect the sensory nature of children. These are sensory bags. We refresh them every so often with new and different natural materials. A variety of herbs, lemon, garlic and cinnamon are in these ones. The children are able to engage their senses especially their sense of smell. 

A play dough provocation with lemon and orange rind as well as a variety of asian herbs. 

The toddlers have been very interested in the dolls since two infants started in our room. They have been closely observing the teachers caring for the infants and we have noticed them mirroring what they have seen. One toddler was patting the dolls back and I realised she was trying to burp her doll. This provocation was set up in response to this interest with photos of infants being cared for in different ways such as sleeping, being fed a bottle, being winded, played with and cuddled. 

Thanks for reading :)