Reggio Emilia approach – The environment as a third Teacher

I don’t consider myself a good mother, let alone a perfect mother. Many times a day I wish I could lock myself up with a nice work of art and some music, or just silence…. Especially at the end of the day, when the word ‘mama’  knocks on my head with a hamer.

BUT – when it comes to creating the perfect playground, the perfect surrounding, the perfect atmosphere and perfect soil for my children, and those who come to play at our house frequently, I feel like a master.

In the Reggio Emilia approach, this is called the third teacher. Quoting Wikipedia: “The importance of the environment lies in the belief that children can best create meaning and make sense of their world through environments which support “complex, varied, sustained, and changing relationships between people, the world of experience, ideas and the many ways of expressing ideas.

So you can find me in my garden a lot, always thinking of creating places to play. Our masterpiece is our slide, which resides ‘back’ – at the far end of our garden. As soon as the children can, they want to play ‘back’. It is a hide-out and the older my children become, the less I am wanted in ‘the back’. And I so love not being wanted! The slide is put over a little hill to prevent high falldowns.

First we had a slide. I had been looking for a slide like this for weeks. It had to be metal with wood. Plastic would not do because I think the colors of plastic are too bright and the experience of original material is way better for sense organ experience. We found this second hand slide that had been serving on a school yard. Perfect for only 15 euro’s.

slide wood metal

Wood and metal slide

The slide wasn’t used much. First of all, it landed in a piece of garden where vegetables grew. Secondly, the slide was out of sight most of the time and at the end of the summer, it was all grown over with weed and used as a storage place. Thirdly, the little hill under the slide was used more as a staircase then a herb-hill and a safety-hill as I intended it to be.

We decided to move the slide towards the trampoline, play object number one for the children, and the swing. It would be more grouped together. Secondly we extended the porch, added a roof we had kept from our old chicken-run. Thirdly we added another little wooden playhouse that was hidden in the phacelia-field.

Now here something interesting happend. As soon as we put the roof on the construction, the children started to play mom and dad. Ever since the new slide and it’s complete little village was finished, the children had 3 little spaces to hide under and in. And they love it! The first sunday after it was finished we had a birthday party with 7 children and they played in the ‘back’ all day long! They bring their dolls with beds and blankets there, their little chairs, their drinks and snacks and it is their little paradise.

And me? I am perfectly happy because I can grow veggies again at the back end of the garden and nourish my little herb-hill under the slide.

building the slide

Slide constructors

playhouse with slide

The new direction of the slide with herb hill

Playhouse with slide

Perfectly grouped with the trampoline, the slide is back in use!

Playhouse with slide

3 places to hide in the little village. The wall we made has little holes for bees and insects. One big happy family!



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