The Reggio Emilia approach has inspired the design and rhythm of my daycare. True to that philosophy, my hope is to create an environment in which the childrens' minds, hearts and interests are honored - leaving them free to explore and learn through their own investigations. Although this manifests in so many ways throughout our day, one of the best ways to support their inquiry and need for independence has been by creating and utilizing outdoor explorer packs.
This was a collaborative class project in which we designed, collected and assembled our packs together. Below are 10 packs that we started with, but these are by no means a complete, static list. The contents and makeup of our explorer packs is constantly evolving based on my documentation and the needs and interests of the children!
1. Shelter Building KitBooks on fort and shelter-building, flat bedsheets, clothespins and clips, rope, bungee cords, saws, peelers, lantern, bakers twine, scissors, sticks, rings, tape, small rugs for sitting, a pair of two-way radios.
2. Nature Observation KitBooks about birds, animals, and nature journaling, journal notebook, nature walk checklist, binoculars, magnifying glass, egg carton for collecting nature items.
3. Leaves & Tree Identification KitMagnifying glass, pressed and laminated leaves from our property, leaf activity book, field and ID books, ID cards for bark, leaves, and trees.
4. Sketch, Art, & Journaling KitWatercolors, jar of water, paintbrushes, colored pencils, sharpener, oil pastels, charcoal pencils, watercolor paper.
5. Play Kitchen KitMortar & pestle, wooden bowls and platters, cooking and eating utensils, 4” & 6” mini frying pans, mini muffin pans, placemats.
6. Gardening & Planting KitPeat moss pots, mini clay pots, plant markers, seeds, garden journal, mats for sitting, books.
7. Insect & Rainbows KitMini clipboard with paper, lidded test tubes for collecting specimens, magnifying bug viewer, magnifying glass, Toob insects of insects we have found on our property, prism, books.
8. Math & Numbers KitMeasuring tape, ruler, calculators, ten frames with glass gems, wooden numbers, dominoes, playing cards, pad of paper, books including one with various games and activities.
9. Animal Tracks & Scat KitClipboard with paper, footprint and scat ID cards for our local area, books about tracking animals, clay and clay tools for sculpting.
10. Pirate Map-Making KitClipboard with paper, homemade map of our property, pirate map book for ideas on where to hide treasures, box/treasure.
Encouraging learning and inviting children to explore their interests is an ever-evolving process that includes the child, parent/teacher, and environment in the gathering of information. Because of this, these explorer packs can change depending on the child, the location, and even the season. Would love to see the packs that you come up with. Happy Exploring!