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  • Early Childhood
Summer Camp the Reggio Way
Elizabeth Barber, Kindergarten Teacher

“Children need the freedom to appreciate the infinite resources of their hands, their eyes, and their ears, the resources of forms, materials, sounds, and colors.” Loris Malaguzzi

Reggio Emilia, Italy is a small town in northern Italy with a huge impact on early childhood education. The Reggio Emilia approach that we use at Stanley Clark was developed after World War II by pedagogist, Loris Malaguzzi, and parents in the villages around Reggio Emilia. It values the child’s experiences and encourages them to explore, question, and experience materials and the world around them. Teachers are considered co-learners and collaborators and they facilitate the child’s learning as a partner alongside them.

Summer is a Time for Kids to be Kids

Summer is a perfect time for children to explore and experience the world around, which is exactly why we carry this school-year approach into our early childhood summer program! There are materials to explore, books to read, and provocations presented. Children are encouraged to ask questions and search for answers alongside of their teachers and other campers. It’s also a time for children to be children. To get messy and dirty. To explore with water and nature. To enjoy new friendships and connect with old friends.  

A Day in the Life - Reggio Camp

So what does a week at a Reggio-inspired summer camp look like? Let me take you back a few summers to a particular week filled with 2 to 5-year-olds. Some of these children had been in a school setting before while others were getting ready to start school in the fall. As we began the week, I presented the children with a question, “What do you like to do in the summer?” There were many answers from riding bikes to visiting family, but the overarching theme seemed to involve water, sand, and sun. The majority answered that they loved to go to the beach, so that was our starting point for the rest of the week’s activities. 

Bringing the Beach to Life

The next day the children came into camp to discover many books on our shelves that had to do with the beach and different activities you could do there. Swimming and sand castles seemed to be a favorite activity among our campers. That day I presented another question to the children, “What would we need to create our own beach?” Immediately they gave answers such as sand, water, beach balls, sand toys, the sun, a beach umbrella, and of course towels and sunscreen. Imagine their surprise the next morning when they arrived at camp and our playground had been transformed into a beach! 

Naming the Beach

The campers could not wait to get outside and explore, but we all agreed that the beach needed a name. We had a group discussion about how to name something and the children were giving their ideas for our specific beach. Suddenly one child exclaimed, “We should name it Barber Beach since Mrs. Barber is our teacher!”

The rest of our summer together was spent enjoying Barber Beach and adding materials to it as the days went on. We added beach chairs, more sand toys and pretend fish in the water. We also drew pictures and created paintings of what our beach looked like and what activities we enjoy on the beach. We explored sand inside the classroom and collaborated to build sand castles with our friends. As the summer came to a close we saw the beach slowly return to a playground, but the memories of Barber Beach will remain.  

Taking the Lead in their Own Learning

That week of summer camp allowed the kids to be kids all while learning, collaborating, exploring, questioning, and experimenting. They were an active part of their learning experience and excited about being a participant and having their voice heard. Every camper made sure to show their parents our beach and they couldn’t wait to tell them what part they played in helping it come to life. It was important to them and they took ownership and pride in their work. Little did they know, they were learning the entire time!  

Why Reggio Camp

Enrolling your child in summer camp not only provides them with a ton of fun, but it also prepares our youngest campers for a more structured school setting in the fall. Each camp has multiple teachers and sizes are smaller than a typical classroom. Summer camp is a great time for our youngest friends to get accustomed to being away from mom and dad while having fun at the same time. It also gives children a chance to meet some new friends in a relaxed and exciting environment. We can’t wait to see where our camper's interests lead us this summer!

 About the Author

Elizabeth Barber

Elizabeth Barber

Kindergarten Teacher


  • Reggio
  • summer

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