Formning i barnehagen i lys av Reggio Emilias atelierkultur.

Carlsen, K.
Åbo: Åbo Akademis forläg.


The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the relationship between Reggio Emilia atelier culture and forming (arts and crafts) in kindergartens (barnehage), and to examine the learning processes that occur in a Reggio Emilia-inspired kindergarten.



The author concludes that inspiration from the Reggio Emilia atelier culture had a positive effect on the forming (arts and crafts) activities in the kindergarten being observed.

The learning potential of taking inspiration from Reggio Emilia in arts and crafts is evident from the results. The pedagogical practices described are playful and experimental, and they stimulate the children’s sensations and curiosity when interacting with materials and tools. Based on the data material, the author finds three overall themes: (1) the physical environment, (2) relations and actions in interplay, and (3) expression forms and forms of expression.


The physical environment in the kindergarten comprises both indoor and outdoor areas. The outdoor area is characterised by free nature, which invites to varied play and arts and crafts activities. The study shows that the many surfaces in the kindergarten’s outdoor areas offer physical, tactile and visual surprises and variation. Objects are used in different kinds of constructions, and priority is given to the children learning how to master tools. The indoor areas invite to establishing communities, but also enable the children to withdraw from the group.


Furthermore, the study suggests that the interplay between relationships and actions is not limited to relationships between humans, but also includes interactions between children, adults, materials and tools. The clear ambition of the kindergarten is to teach the children to be independent. The children are guided in using tools enabling them to carry out tasks independently, e.g. using a step stool to reach high places. The children also explore the tools on their own and, in interaction with the tools, they learn what the tools can be used for, and how the tools can help explore the world.


Furthermore, the author finds that adults’ actions in interplay with children, tools and materials can be characterised by the adults acting together with the child, inviting the child to act, and, in a few cases, by the adults taking control of the children’s actions. The adults instruct, guide and demonstrate, but they may also distract and divert the children from becoming familiar with an object or material. In some cases, adults may reject or exclude children from a community involving interaction with objects or materials. An example of this is a situation where a child and an adult have a close relationship while collaborating on constructing letters from building blocks, and two other children, who wanted to participate, are rejected.


Finally, the study shows that children and adults in the kindergarten use different arts and crafts expression forms, and the kindergarten is clearly characterised by the use of forms of expression resulting from the different processes. Construction as an expression form plays an important role. Building (e.g. a tower of building blocks) is usually controlled by children without any intervention from adults. Construction of specific objects is controlled by adults to a greater extent. According to the author, this may have two outcomes: Either the child becomes co-creator of a common form of expression, or the adult takes control of the process. A systematic effort is made to develop children’s figurative language, both individually and in groups, together with an adult engaged in active conversation. Beauty appears as a value in the kindergarten, and time and effort are invested in making the kindergarten a wonderful place.



The dissertation is based on data from a Reggio Emilia-inspired kindergarten with 56 children and 17 adults. The author conducted field work throughout a period of four months, and the data material consists of documents from the kindergarten (e.g. minutes from meetings), field notes, photos, video footage and interviews with staff members and with the leader of the kindergarten.


Carlsen, K. (2015). Formning i barnehagen i lys av Reggio Emilias atelierkultur. Åbo: Åbo Akademis forläg.

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