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reggio inspired math & small parts learning

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The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood development places value on the individual learning and innate curiosities of a child.  Play time is cognitive learning and should be respected and encouraged.  Learning is adapted to the needs and interests of the individual and encourages children to discover answers on their own. 

You can read more about Reggio learning from Julianne Wurms books: Working in the Reggio Way and More Working in the Reggio Way or from Lori Pickert’s Project Based Learning.

These simple Reggio inspired math provocations or small part explorations can excite your child about mathematical and spatial concepts. They encourage your child to make their own projects, without an adult directing or interfering. A beautiful math tray or work table can inspire children to create and learn about numbers. You can also set up your invitation to play on the floor, giving your child or student a quiet place to learn and create.

Reggio math table homeschool

Here’s one example: An open ended learning time to explore number sense is simple to set up.  To get started, I place one number on our tray, and count out that number with various small parts. You can sit with your child to explain what you’ve done, or simply leave it there to find and to pique his/her interest.  While watching your child, observe what they are doing.  It is also fine to work with them to teach them how to count to that number or even create number sentences using the provided tactile objects. I always take notes on what particular objects interest my child most, so I can think of ways to incorporate those again in the future.

Here is a list of mathematic outcomes your child is discovering through a Reggio-inspired math table, and variations thereof:

  • counting and recognizing numbers,
  • learning one to one correspondence (number sense),
  • working on patterns and sequencing (ABAB, AABB, AAB),
  • ordering (smallest to largest, etc.) addition,
  • subtraction, comparing objects, classifying and sorting (by size, type, color),
  • spatial relationships,
  • and measurement.

I hope you and your child enjoy a playful and open ended time through this Reggio-inspired number exploration.  Our corner table is always set up with either a mathematics provocation, nature exploration, or a literacy table and I regularly change out the materials to excite my children’s interests.  I hope you feel inspired to do the same!


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