Beginnings, a Toddler Program and Nursery School in New York strives, as they say, "to create a nurturing and stimulating environment grounded in respect for children and the ways that they learn." As part of this premise they work with the Reggio Emilia philosophy that evolved for children's education in Italy after the Second World War. One of the key principles of which is that, "children have a relationship with other children and with material items in the world."
As the New York Times reported last month, the Beginnings Nursery endeavours to get their youngsters engaging with a wide range of reused and repurposed materials. Their newly renovated loft has become a Materials Center holding a wealth of society's discards that are perfect for young children. "With their strong inclination towards symbolic play and their tendency to transform objects based on their own interests and imagination, these materials are ripe with possibility."
But ever curious kids are in constant demand for fresh stimuli, so Beginnings has a standing request for interesting stuff. See thea long PDF list of the natural objects and "found" materials they are seeking. Befitting inquistive minds, it's a very eclectic catalogue: abandoned birds nests to wooden curtain rings, lobster shells to mustard squeeze bottles, acorns to typewriters.
And it seems it is not just Beginnings staff who realise the value of 'stuff.' For as five year old Alexandra Lehrer told the New York Times, "I like building stuff," she said. "If you throw everything away, there will be just a big pile of garbage, and you won't have anything to make collages with." Nor to create her Little Red Riding Hood, crafted from plastic cups, egg cartons and Champagne corks.
Reminds me of two co-operatives in Australia which have a very similar ambit as the Materials Center at Beginnings Nursery, except that they are open to all schools and the public. Reverse Garbage in Sydney has been in operation for 35 years, and an unaffiliated, but same named Reverse Garbage in Brisbane for more than a decade.
One person's waste is another child's wonderment.
::Beginnings Nursery School
Photos: See the New York Times Slideshow
More Kids Connecting with Nature
• Battling Nature Deficit Disorder
• How to Go Green: Outdoor Sports
• Nature Deficit Disorder Tackled at Camp Filled with Power Tools, Danger for Kids
• Military Kids Find Time at Camp A Cure for Nature Deficit Disorder
• What Do Robots, Sir David Attenborough and Kids have in Common?
• Scouting For Boys: All Time Best Selling Book Celebrates 100 Years of Being Outdoors
• Forest Service Takes Aim at Nature Deficit Disorder
• Environmental Education Boosted by House Committee Vote
• Outdoor Industry Pledges to Take Kids Back to Nature
• No Child Left Inside
• No Child Left Inside: Economist on National Parks
• No Child Left Inside Act of 2007