The Atelier of Light, Shadow & Reflection: documenting our reggio-inspired, inquiry-based exploration Pt 1.

“Learning is about being a researcher. The young child is a builder of theories. The young child learns by communicating and expressing their concepts and theories and by listening to others”

Carlina Rinaldi

This ‘episode of learning’ started in September 2019 (Althea, 2yrs 8m, Ottilie 11m) aged and lasted until the beginning of October when its twists and turns took it in a different direction entirely. But for a number of weeks we immersed ourselves in the child-initiated exploration of light, shadow and reflection.

This encounter took place during a period where the haze here in Singapore reached unhealthy levels and we were spending our days inside the house. Althea had become quite preoccupied with the concept of shadows. In the daytime she would point them out gleefully, referring to them as ‘reflections’, transferring her understanding of mirror reflections to the discovery of her own shadowy silhouette. However, at night she was unnerved by the presence of the shadows cast on the walls of her room. So I decided to use this as an opportunity to build on this interest by setting up a provocation in our atelier.

During nap time a cleared a large space and set up this simple provocation using an adjustable desk lamp and a mirror square fixed to a wooden board. I set out plastic transparent colour shapes and metal cookie cutters.

Althea initially started her exploration by placing the coloured shapes on the mirrored surface and noticing their projection on the wall in front. When she approached the wall to inspect the coloured shapes she discovered her own shadow standing tall above her.

She spent some time watching Ottilie’s movements cast onto the white backdrop, whilst Ottilie explored the coloured shapes.

Ottilie was more transfixed by the novel objects, the source of the bright light and her own reflection, whilst Althea experimented with movement.

‘The magic of me’

This encounter with transparent colour blocks and light ended up being an enduring focus over the course of the 4 weeks until eventually Althea became engaged in using the blocks for the purpose of creating structures with windows and wheels as opposed to exploring this material in relation to light.

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