Reggio Inspired Learning In and With Nature

Shilpi Shukla
June 16, 2022

Lorris Malaguzzi quotes that,“creativity seems to emerge from multiple experiences, coupled with a well-supported development of personal resources, including a sense of freedom to venture beyond the known” (Malaguzzi, 1998, p. 76).

Learning in and with nature is venturing beyond the known. It leads us to forge a path of possibilities, but as Malaguzzi suggests in the opening quote, we have to make our own paths, as teachers and children and families, in the forest. 

Malaguzzi, the central notion for the philosophy of Reggio Emilia resides in the concept of the image of a child, the hundred languages of children, environment as the third teacher, teachers are nurturers, parents are partners, and documentation is critical.


The environment is the biggest space in the Reggio approach. There are ateliers and creative spaces for almost everything. Nature is the place where authentic, meaningful teaching and learning can take place. Young children need unstructured opportunities for play in environments that “put them in touch with beauty, arouse their curiosity, and excite their imaginations” because children learn about themselves and the world through this type of authentic play (Wilson, 2012, p. 18).

The pedagogical approach includes the following goals for children’s development in nature: a respectful relationship with nature, a feeling of being at home in wild places, an appreciation for natural cycles, an ability to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, and a feeling of empowerment through knowledge about ways to protect the natural world. The outdoor experiences are designed to give children significant freedom while still keeping enough structure to make it manageable for them. The children have the freedom to walk and run along with the farm at their own pace.

Creating an ethos of respect and appreciation for the environment identified the importance of providing sensitive and supportive guidance within a rich environment that encourages problem-solving, pretend play, collaboration, and risk-taking; and community support and involvement in children’s development, particularly around nature experiences. Taking children outdoors helps because nature is a “mood boost” and a rich, ever-changing place to learn to be a scientist that opens imaginations and provides sensory input while developing children’s self-efficacy as they meet challenges. It is also stated that nature is one of the fundamental human relationships so it is important that children connect with it. It is believed that when children are in an environment with other children who are using their bodies, appropriate risk-taking develops.

Nature is an outlet and a place where children can be wild. Experts explain, nature can open children’s minds and imaginations to the possibility of how things are not just one way… everything is kind of open and moving and different no matter the day.

 Play Materials that can be used:

Twigs,Stones, Pebbles, Pine Cones, Egg Cartons, Beads, Leafs, Lids, Buttons, Shells and many more.




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