To us adults, the above assortment of objects simply looks like a mess. But to a child, it can be a treasure trove of possibilities.
This week alone, the blue roll mat has been turned into a hammock (balanced precariously between benches and weighted down with crates). The tyre has been a trough for cows to drink from. The pipes have been musical instruments.
Welcome to the creative world of the atelier.
Ateliers (art studios) are a feature of the Reggio Emilia philosphy of learning, which places emphasis on nature and outdoor learning, as well as providing experiences for children to learn from. A large part of the philosophy is giving the children ownership of learning and providing opportunities for children to unleash their natural creativity, something that can be achieved through art and creative play areas.
At Westgate we have been inspired by this and have been experimenting with different materials that can be used to harness creativity. From larger scale ‘found objects’ as featured above, to standard junk modelling materials (think cardboard tubes, cereal boxes and yogurt pots!), to clay and nature play. Marie created an atelier based on sticks, where the Caterpillars collaboratively decided to build stick houses for Stick Man and proceeded to select the necessary tools and materials – it was a fantastic source of independence, creativity and expression!
Ateliers provide opportunities for children to solve problems and create their own artistic visions. It has been a pleasure to witness the creativity; we can’t wait to see more!
How our ateliers support learning:
- Personal, Social and Emotional: Children work together to support individual and group creations; taking turns and sharing resources.
- Communication and Language: Children use talk to pretend objects are something they are not (for example, the tyre water trough!); share and communicate their ideas.
- Physical Development: Depending on the type of atelier, children use fine and gross motor skills to interact with the resources (snipping, sticking, balancing, stacking).
- Literacy: We encourage our oldest children to write instructions on how they made their creations; younger children are asked to write their names on their artwork.
- Mathematics: Children need spatial awareness to create their creations; mathematical vocabulary (e.g. height) can also be introduced if appropriate.
- Understanding the World: Children have the opportunity to recreate and make sense of their own experiences.
- Expressive Arts and Design: Children can develop their self-expression; experience different media and materials and unleash their imaginations!
For more information on ateliers, please read this article!