Introducing wire as a tool

Family Day is next Saturday (6/2) from 10-12. Please come!

Families and faculty will work together building sculptures using natural materials (which LNS children have been busy collecting!).

Knowing that wire will be one tool available for lashing materials together, we offered wire, sticks, wood slices, and pine cones, along with some less natural materials, for Studio Blue children to experiment with in the classroom. Although wire might seem like something that a 3 1/2-year-old would pick up on right away, it’s often not the case.

Initially, we simply observed how the children encountered these materials. We noticed that some children either didn’t understand that wire could be bent, or weren’t motivated to bend it. So we made two changes:

1) We intuited that inserting wire through a small hole might somehow be more satisfying than through large holes. So we drilled small holes, just big enough for wire to fit, through the short fat sticks.

2) We became more instructive. For example, once a child had put a wire through a hole, we suggested that s/he try bending it.

These two changes heightened their interest, lengthened their duration of play and brought about more variation in their explorations. We also saw children return to the table to work here without adult support. It began to feel more like the drawing table, where children often gather and work on their own initiative.


Anyone who is familiar with Reggio knows the importance of allowing children to “slow down.” In this spirit, when we offer a material, we’re interested in letting the children take their time with it as we observe the children’s raw reaction, and what children teach each other.

Adults need to slow down, too, and reflect on the reaction and interaction of children with new materials, after they’ve been given time to try them out (this can be days or weeks). It’s amazing how a little instruction and modeling, and a small change (like putting small holes in the thick sticks) can be enough to bring success and competence to the child’s experience.