Children are attracted to things of beauty. Now what makes something beautiful? That is probably a deeper question for a different blog. When it comes to what young children are attracted to think of color, shape, pattern and form.
Many educational approaches/philosophies hold strongly to the belief that beauty is an essential component in appealing to children and inspiring their creativity. Maria Montessori believed the school environment needed to be filled with aesthetically pleasing objects in order to invite the children to work with them independently. She created her materials to be innately beautiful and attractive to children.
Friedrich Froebel, an early pioneer in education, who inspired Maria Montessori in her material construction, created materials for children that he called “gifts”. These gifts were meant to introduce children to concepts ranging from geometry to form. As Herbert Spencer noted, concrete objects have a significant place in children’s learning, “The truths of number, of form, of relationship in position were all originally drawn from objects and to present these truths to the child in the concrete is to let him learn them as the race learned them.” Froebel hoped that by experimenting with these materials and through noticing aspects of their construction such as symmetry, children would find beauty in each gift. He also introduced the children to activities with his materials called “forms of beauty” in which children would use his pieces to create symmetric arrangements in two or three dimensions.
Finally, take one look at any school that models itself after the Reggio Emilia approach and you will understand the place of beautiful objects in early childhood as a way to inspire creativity. If you are interested in learning more about Reggio’s approach to beautiful things and finding the beauty in found materials check out this book called Beautiful Stuff! Learning with Found Materials by Cathy Weisman Topal
To get you started on your journey to filling your home or classroom with beautiful and inspiring objects, I wanted to share a few with you that I found particularly attractive. Enjoy!
These drawing materials are made of soy wax from soybeans grown in the United States and natural mineral powders for the color, which makes them eco-friendly and safe for your child to use. Another bonus is the shape designed for young hands working on developing the fine motor skills to prepare to hold more traditional writing utensils. You can purchase them here.
This award winning company makes beautiful Reggio inspired materials for children, however I know many adults that enjoy their designer appeal. Here are two of my favorite materials they sell.
Coloraturo Block Set $75 Dwellings $40