invitation to learn: loose parts in a frame

I am a firm believer in the Reggio Emila tenet that the environment is the third teacher.

I try to set up my classroom environment so that the kidlets can be as independent as possible, and that the environment  invites them to explore, discover, create and learn.

I am a huge fan of learning through loose parts.

What if the children were invited to play, explore with loose parts -- inside picture frames ...

What would they be inspired to create ...

Some thrift shop frames

 and collections of loose materials, and I was set.

It was fascinating to observe how the different children approached the activity.

Some were definite solo creators.  They had an idea and wanted to execute it without interference or assistance. 

For others it was theactivity was the vehicle for social interaction.

Some children created patterns or balanced designs.

This one has a story:  the artist told me that she was thinking about watching meteor showers with her mom when she was making her design.


Others made pictures.

And others  enjoyed filling up the spaces.

Clean up time involved some good sorting activity.  The kids changed how they sorted the materials from the way that I originally did it.  Great to see their thought processes and hear their sorting rules.

I have put the frames and all the bits and pieces away.  It's time for a new invitation to explore. But  I think this one will have a return engagement later in the year.  It will be interesting to see what the kidlets create then...


  1. This looks like a lovely activity, I will keeping an eye out for old frames now too. I love the way some of them filled the whole space up. Thanks for sharing such a great idea, Kierna

  2. This is great. Now I know why I am drawn to picture frames. Just never knew what to do with them. Thanks for the inspiration Sandi.

  3. That's very very cool. I have a few old frames lying around. Thanks Sandi!

    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers Blog Designs

  4. What a great idea! We recently moved into my husband's childhood home and there are frames galore in the basement...I guess they'll make their way to school, too!!
    Owl Things First!


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