As I concluded a chapter on the spaces in which children learn I was struck by this particular quote, "the many ways in which the familiar space of the city can become the stage for and subject of activities and constructive explorations" (Reggio Children, S.r.l, 1987,1996). I began to reflect on how underused our own city, and outdoors in general, has become. Yes, Chicago has many amazing museums that our children should off course have the opportunity to visit. But our city is more than the museums, and in fact the museums are very disconnected from the daily life of the children. In a city like Chicago where there are dozens of neighborhoods with their own flavor and vibrancy, shouldn't our children have the opportunity to explore their familiar surroundings in a deeper manner? Think of the learning that can be constructed right outside the schools, daycares, and homes!
Shadows are such a fascinating phenomena and are of particular interest to young children. Consider the different shapes and designs that familiar, city objects make on the ground. What an opportunity to play with light and the child's own initiative right outside our doors.
Children enjoy the exploration of interesting shaped places and, when given the time and space to do so, will peer through the cracks in fences, gates, bridges, buildings in order to see things in a different manner.
Children will look at every day landmarks in a new way. These landmarks will cause them to imagine what it's like to be a different character; they can become lions or live among giants.
The city is waiting for the children to embrace it and make it their own. Step outside of the classroom and allow the children to construct meaning in their city. They are after all our youngest citizens.