Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Reggio Emilia Wednesday: Holiday Fun & Community Service Projects for Little Ones

Public Domain Image
A while back, I had started to do some posts with the theme of Reggio Emilia Wednesday...
My original idea was that every Wednesday, people could link up and share what they had done that was Malaguzzi inspired...emergent projects that developed either in the classroom, in the community, or in the homeschool setting.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the Reggio Emilia approach to learning, it was founded by Loris Malaguzzi  and some mothers who wanted something better for their children's education in Italy years ago.  
The Reggio Emilia is not a specific set of materials or a curriculum; rather, it is an approach to early learning guided by the following principles (Source for this summary: Wikipedia):
  • Children must have some control over the direction of their learning;
  • Children must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, seeing, and hearing;
  • Children have a relationship with other children and with material items in the world that children must be allowed to explore and
  • Children must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves.
  • The Reggio Emilia approach to teaching young children puts the natural development of children as well as the close relationships that they share with their environment at the center of its philosophy.  
  • Another key component is that: Parents are a vital component to the Reggio Emilia philosophy. Parents are viewed as partners, collaborators and advocates for their children.
Many of the key concepts of Reggio Emilia work hand in hand with Montessori, and also work well in the homeschool setting, since parents play an integral part of the child's learning environment.
In our homeschool, we tend to do a Montessori work period in the morning and then, do more Malaguzzi inspired projects and fun, play based things in the afternoon. 
The holiday season is a perfect time for projects to emerge that are created and directed by children but that are then fully supported by the community...
So, for instance, if a child wants to do some sort of a community service project, and comes up with the idea to make holiday decorations for a place such as a nursing home or shelter, or to create and then donate a gingerbread creation to an organization then, it is the parents' role to make this a reality for the child by helping to collaborate with the community to find out how this project can be carried out and how each child can actively participate in the project.

Our family tradition here is to make Christmas ornaments and gingerbread houses for local charities. It is up to Big Bro and Little Bro to figure out what they would like to make.
Then, it is up to me to reach out into our community to see who wants these sorts of donations.
Well, this year, we are very excited, as for the first time ever, we are going to be participating in a gingerbread and peppermint house contest, called Winterland of Gingerbread where all money raised to enter the event will go to some very worthwhile nonprofit organizations, including Alex's Lemonade Stand and Little Red Wagon Foundation.
Public Domain Image
We kicked things off by talking about St. Nicholas and how he helped others and brought happiness to those in need by giving them small treats and toys.
We visited the St. Nicholas Center's lovely website and did many of the activities from this site.
Their website has some great resources, including information about How St. Nicholas' feast day is celebrated around the world, as well as some neat ideas for crafts, some great recipes to try, and some fun pages for children. Then, the boys put out their shoes so that we could re-enact the idea of having some treats from St.Nicholas. They loved opening their little gifts and seemed to be even more excited about the idea of then doing nice things for others in our community.
Public Domain Image
 For the past few days, our family has been working on our spicy crafts...
Little Bro completed his gingerbread house. Big Bro has the bottom portion of his peppermint candy house completed, but still has more work to do...this has been a great project for Big Bro, as he has had to rethink his plan for a peppermint house...he initially wanted to use plastic cups stacked in a pyramid formation as this base for his peppermint castle, but that proved to be challenging to get the candy to adhere to the plastic cups...

Since Dear Hubby was at home for part of the time while Santa's Little Helpers were busy with their sweet creations, he was able to help pose a few questions to get them to think about their work. He also offered a few suggestions as they were working, and lent a hand when they needed someone to give them a little help with things. It has been very nice to have Daddy involved with our ongoing holiday projects.
So, this is where we are at...we are in full swing and are everything is due to be completed in time for the upcoming gingerbread event, Winterland of Gingerbread. This neat event is being sponsored by K12.

This post in linked up to the We Play Links at Childhood 101. If you have done a festive, fun project and have linked up over at Childhood 101, please feel free to also link up here to my Reggio Emilia Wednesday Linky - Theme: Holiday Fun & Community Service Projects for Little Ones.

We also linked up to Holiday Fun 2010 over at Our Worldwide Classroom.

 Our Worldwide Classroom 

Little Bro checking out the goodies left in his shoes for St. Nicholas Day.
Big Bro checking out the goodies left in his shoe for St. Nicholas Day.
Little Bro having a blast decorating his gingerbread house.
Santa's Little Helper is happy that his gingerbread creation is complete and is looking forward to sharing his house with others. 12/15 Update: Little Bro's friends from Raccoon School made a gingerbread house, too.
Big Bro trying to get his peppermint house to stay together as a solid structure...
Big Bro hanging in there...trying to get the peppermint pieces to work like building blocks for his creation...notice the collection of materials on the table in the background...many of them were used in a trial and error way to try to make a peppermint construction, including several plastic cups, tape, cardboard, you name it...
Little Bro's sparkly art card to go with his gingerbread house...
Little Bro made two of these cards so that Big Bro could have a sparkly card to go with his peppermint house.

Little Bro's painting of St. Nick...
Please link up to share your holiday projects for Reggio Emilia Wednesday.


The Education Of Ours said...

Having some camera issues here :( I will add something next week. Busy weekend ahead!

Lovely post.

Alissa said...

We celebrate St. Nicholas' Day too :) My grandmother is from Austria and she remembers it as one of her most exciting childhood holidays. The past couple years we've snuck over to her house and placed a boot with goodies and a family photo on her door step on December 6th and she's loved it.

katepickle said...

What a lovely idea to share your tradition with the wider community! One day we are going to try making gingerbread houses. Do you make your own ginger bread for this?

Juliet Robertson said...

The Santa card is beautiful. If I do any outdoor crafty things over the next wee while I'll try and remember to pop over and link up.

The Sunshine Crew said...

Thanks for all of your nice replies.
@Alissa: that's neat that you celebrate St. Nicholas Day, too. would love to know more about what else you do for Austrian inspired holiday activities...
@ Katepickle: as far as the gingerbread houses, we have tried it both ways...making the homes from scratch and making them from kits. We like the kits, as at least the gingerbread is already baked and hardened for you so that it is ready to go. We always make additional frosting, as well as buy additional candies and cookies for the decorations.
The peppermint house was made entirely out of peppermints and frosting. No starter helps for this...
@Juliet and @Jessie: Thanks to you for saying that you will link up if you have anything for the next week. I am gonna try to be good about hosting this weekly link up so that people will have a place to link their projects.
Have a happy day, everyone:)

Sarah said...

Beautiful kitchen creations, and what a lovely idea for contributing to your community.I just love it!

Louisa said...

what a fabulous tradition - i love it! very talented boys you have too - beautiful creations! thanks for visiting my blog and letting me know about yours - I need to have a good look around here. :)

Cate said...

My older girls went to a Reggio kinder - I really like this approach to learning, especially at the younger levels.
Love the gingerbread house!! xxxCate

Mommy Moment said...

We love making gingerbread houses too alothough I love the idea of the peppermint house!
One day maybe we can do this together with you at Christmas, Miss you dear friend!


Katie said...

Looks like the kids enjoyed themselves - and for a great purpose. Cute gingerbread house and artwork :)

amandab said...

Thanks for stopping by, Colleen, have had your page open for acouple of days, but maadness abounds and it seems there is no time anymore!

You have inspired me to go and have a chat with the Kinder teacher for next year to see if the idea of making Christmas decorations for a nursing home would work. I think there is one on the opposite side of the Hwy from the Kinder, so that would work beautifully :)

And I have never heard of a peppermint candy house before! I am going to have to look up examples right now! LOL

Kylie said...

Your gingerbread house is delightful! Can you please tell me where you go that public domain cookie image from?

Christie - Childhood 101 said...

What a wonderful way to instill a true sense of giving during the festive season. I love the sparkly card too :)

CatWay said...

Those gingerbread houses looks awesome. I have always thought it would be a fun project, but I think my youngest is still a bit young and would probably make life hard.
Thanks for the links to St Nicholas information, very interesting and giving me some ideas for Christmas learning next year.

Tracey M. said...

I love the pictures of them making their gingerbread houses. Yummy! The cards to go with them are a great idea. Nice blog here!

Kathleen@so much to say said...

Thanks for sharing! When I see moms doing things like this it makes me realize how very un-crafty/creative I really am in my parenting. LOL

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