At the start of the year I made a wish list of the materials that I wanted to try. Mirrors were at the top of the list. I have been interested in mirrors and their role in children's play, driven by questions about the Reggio approach. For the last couple of months we've been using mirrors in open-ended play mainly with loose parts and in explorations but also with art.
"Pay attention to how your children currently interact with mirrors in your home and encourage them to use them in different ways. By placing a few in the play area, they may be more inclined to see how different objects appear when reflected and may even utilize them as a whole other dimension to their art projects.
Mirrors are an excellent inquiry tool for preschool age students, as they can help them see things in an entirely different way. If you are interested in seeing how your child reacts to these materials, try putting one underneath or behind the next activity you do with them at home. Be sure to let them discover the mirror on their own and do not explicitly direct their attention to it." - Bartram Academy.
Yesterday Otto (2.5 yrs) spent the morning playing with blocks in front of a mirror. It was an invitation he was immediately drawn to. The mirror adds dimension, light, reflection and a completely different perspective. Here Otto is using the Three Panel Folding Mirror c/o Modern Teaching Aids. The mirror significantly extended his play and his interest. On a rainy Sydney morning it also brought in a lot of light and colour making this play area a focal point.
As the child is learning through play they are observing their own movement and observing the mirror. Mirrors provide opportunity for children to explore:
- light - including refraction of light
- their own movements, increasing body awareness.
So what mirrors do we use and when? Above Otto is using a stand up mirror, the Three Panel Folding Mirror with stacking pegs, rocks and minerals, a nature tray and some model vehicles. This is a good mirror to also use during the art making process.
Above Otto is using a Mirrored Sensory Tray with transparent geometric shapes, rainbow hollow blocks, wooden geometric solids, rainbow transparent blocks, finger-paint and items from nature. I often like to use a Mirrored Sensory Tray rather than a plain flat mirror as it is easier to move around and materials don't roll or fall off. We have also been using crayon pencils for drawing on mirrors, the crayon pencils go so so smooth and it's a completely different experience to drawing on paper. Our Mirrored Sensory Tray is c/o Modern Teaching Aids
There are many interesting materials to use with mirrors including some household objects, items from nature and other blocks and materials we already have in our collection:
- Loose parts
- Small Word Play - including model animals, toy cars and trucks.
- Geometric Shapes & Geometric Solids
- Magnetic Tiles
- Colour Tokens or Counters
- Nature Items - leaves, seed pods, flowers, shells, stones, feathers (natural or coloured).
- Paint - for finger painting or perhaps even paint sticks or soft oil pastels.
- Ribbons/Streamers/Yarn/String of Beads
- Lego or Duplo Bricks
- Acrylic Bowls - and add a few scoops for pouring loose parts.
- Recycled Materials - for construction or patterning, think lids, clean containers, cardboard rolls.
- Metal Condiment Cups - or other small cups like plastic transparent shot glasses for stacking and building.
We like to use our Mirrored Sensory Tray outdoors and see the reflection from the sun, clouds or trees. Mirrors can add light and beauty to any child's activity. I would also like to try using mirrors around our light table.
Mirrors add depth and dimension to the child's play and are a great way to capture the child's attention and to spark their imagination and creativity. The opportunities for learning and development using mirrors are endless. We can observe our children in play and extend the activities following their areas of interest.
Using mirrors like this feels experimental, but it fits, it's creative and scientific, the child is using the mirror to observe what is really happening!