Monday, May 31, 2010

beautiful learning spaces in reggio emilia inspired preschools

We place enormous value on the role of the environment as a motivating and animating force in creating spaces for relations, options, and emotional and cognitive situations that produce a sense of well-being and security.
Loris Malaguzzi, Reggio Emilia Italy.
Do you like sticky-beaking at other preschool learning spaces as much as I do?  

I've been peeking into some Reggio-Emilia inspired preschools and I have some images of beautiful learning spaces to share with you.

I admire the way Reggio Emilia approach pays great attention to the look and feel of the classroom. It is easy to see why the environment is considered the "third teacher" from the moment you walk into a Reggio- inspired preschool.

Attention to creating a beautiful environment begins at the entrance.

Take a look at the children's artwork adorns the entrance to the The Overfield Early Childhood Program :

Who wouldn't want to go inside?

Once inside you are likely to find photographs of each child and children's work which say, right from the entry, "this is your space, you belong here":

Prepare 2 Play
Pictures in glass jars replace frames:


TriBeCa Community School has a "living-room" style reading area as close as possible to the entrance of each the classroom to give the message of  "welcome home. relax"

The preschools are generally filled with indoor plants and vines, and awash with natural light.

My Classroom Transformation

Beyond the Classroom

Teachers carefully organize space for small and large group projects and small intimate spaces for one, two or three children.  This is my favorite - I love the floor to ceiling internal windows:

Oooh, look: a zen table!

Lakota Local School District Preschools via Community Playthings

Mirrors often feature in Reggio-inspired classrooms.

Mirrored backing on shelves to help create a feeling of light:

Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning

Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning
Documentation of children's work and collections that children have made are displayed both at the children's and adult eye level.

Journey into Early Childhood

I love finding inspiration for display in my own preschool:

Primary Village South via Community Playthings

Journey into Early Childhood

If you are looking for Reggio inspiration, you can't go past the following blogs:

Marla McLean, Atelierista
The Living Classroom
Bakers and Astronauts

Or browse through some of my Reggio posts:

Series:  Be Reggio Inspired

Or visit my Reggio Inspired Preschools Pinterest Board.


  1. beautiful thankyou but I think

  2. beautiful thankyou but I think I am with you on the Stepford wives one its a little too clinical for my liking
    Love the cosiness of it all though and the thought put into space and arrangement of furniture, making it a space children can relax and enjoy and be at the centre of

  3. so beautiful!! I would love to remake our shed in our backyard with an installation piece similar to the first piece of art at the top of your post. I love the mirror backed shelves and the speaking tubes would be great fun!

  4. I am soooo torn about this! I love the look of those classrooms and I completely buy the environment as "third teacher" concept. At the same time, I like my space to be as much like a garage as possible. What can I dooo?

    Thanks for making me think, Jenny!

  5. The preschools in our area seem very uniform and in no way embrace any of these different perspectives. Thanks for sharing something different.

  6. Thanks for the comments guys. I sit on your side of the fence Tom, but I love looking at the images because I think that there are ideas that I can use from all education approaches (like the displays of children's work hanging from the roof; the speaking tubes). I'm also a big believer in the importance the way we organise the environment and materials plays in inviting children in and as our friends say "making it irresistible". But I get what you mean. I know I'd feel more at home in your preschool than one of these but like you say, it does get you thinking.

  7. That was an inspiring collection of photographs, thanks for sharing.

  8. I can never get enough of looking at other school ideas....I wish there was a publication series that JUST did this - photos of great spaces. Thanks so much!
    Pamela Wallberg

  9. Thank you so much for posting this! These are absolutely beautiful!! -so inspirational! I love all the natural lighting! I agree with you Pamela- it would be great if there was a publication that did JUST photos of environments!

  10. I am a family childcare provider in California. I have a question, can the Reggio Approach be used with mixed ages? Do I document each child's development, even infant's? I have a 3 month old, a 15 month old, two 2 yr olds, a 3 yr old, a 4 yr old, and an 8 yr old. Total of 7. I've been looking at preschool's websites... but all have classroom with children of same age group... How can I implement the Reggio Approach in a mixed-aged group? I'm finding it difficult to focus on documenting the older children, while still attending the basic care needs of the infants and toddlers... Need advice!!! Thanks, Alma.

    1. I have eclectic styles regarding the environment, so this response is NOT from any pure perspective. One possibility is to just take photos while the children are in your care and make notations later....the pic will remind you of what you were thinking when you took the pic. Parents and child will love seeing the pictures. Might this simplify the documenting quandry? Was that at all helpful?

    2. A couple of things you might try are taking photos during the time the children are in your care. Later, you can look at the pics and remember what you wanted to capture and then make written documentation. Another idea is to turn on a camcorder (iPad, whatever you have) to capture a time period and use the video later to document progress of children. The video will also give you an opportunity to check YOUR progress as a teacher! Hope that is helpful.

  11. Alma, thanks for your question. While our preschool has a philosophy that shares some core values with the Reggio Emilia approach, we are not actually a Reggio Preschool so I'm probably not the best one to answer this question.

    What I can say is that we have mixed aged groups at preschool and document each child's individual learning journey in a portfolio. This can be time consuming - especially if like you I assume you are on your own? Maybe setting a goal of 2 or 3 learning stories a term would help.

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  13. You took some of these photos from my blog and did not reference! This is not okay to make it look as if they are your own!!!

    Tara from

  14. Hi Tara

    You're so right - that is not right. I had made a file of photos I loved and forgot to note where they came from - and then I used some in this post. Now that I have your blog link would it be okay if I used them if I link back to you? I'm sorry to have used them without your permission. Usually I am quite careful in saying where the pictures came from.

  15. Tara, I can't seem to get into the pollysunshine blog. It comes up as invited readers only. If you are okay with me linking to you for the photos, could you please let me know which ones they are? Or let me know which ones they are so I can take them down if linking isn't okay with you. Cheers, Jenny

  16. Hey Jenny,Awesome work.It really inspires us to do something more creative.I am an MBA professional but am in love with childcare.Please guide me for some online courses as I am in India.Thanks for sharing your ideas.Take Care:)

  17. Just discovered your blog. Loving it, and being inspired by it from Japan!

  18. Great info n lovely photographs... Thanks for sharing will adapt few in my upcoming Reggio Emilia preschool

  19. I live down the street from Overfield. My daughter spent two years there. It is a wonderful place! The teachers are incredible. My daughter almost always spent time with their on staff naturalist. I was so happy and excited to see photos of the school on your blog. :)
    We are very fortunate in Troy that we have two Reggio inspired schools. Three years ago, two teachers left Overfield and started a school of their own. My son attended this new school. My youngest will begin preschool in the fall. My husband and I just spoke today about sending him to the newer school.

  20. You too used my photos/design work and I was disturbed to find it uncited on Pinterest and Google Search. The photos of Small Wonders AND Spirit at Play are my images, I would of liked them to be cited first (with permission) not cited after I find them everywhere and request you do so.

    1. Allison, I apologise if this is the case. When I first started blogging I was a complete idiot when it came to publishing photos and the rules of it all. Could you please let me know which images they are, and who to credit them to so I can rectify the situation - or I can take them off completely if you prefer. Once again, please accept my apologies. I am in the process of going back over all my earlier posts to make sure this hasn't happened again and fixing it as I go along. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  21. Love so many of these ideas. Really wish I could motivate the powers that be to finance some changes in our Centre

  22. thank you for compiling such good resources! I have blogged about this post at

    I really do appreciate all the insights I am learning from your site. Thanks again!


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  24. Wow! This preschool building is really beautiful. When choosing a preschool for your kids, it is really important to consider the surroundings. Keep posting and thanks for sharing.

  25. Thank you for including our work on your blog post alongside such inspiring programs and photographs!

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  27. Wow, what a great article truly amazing. Just one of the best articles ever. Keep it up!