I’ve noticed that mirrors are the newest trend in childcare classrooms (of course… Reggio Emilia preschool centres have been using them forever, infant classrooms have always had a mirror and the AQI states we must have a full length mirror in the dramatic area), so because of the fascination with mirrors I have decided to incorporate them into my classroom activities with ECE/ECA students. Now, before I started using them in the classroom I had to first research the rationale for including them in play-based learning, “How do mirrors support children’s development?”, “What are some simple ways to get started using mirrors–students would need to know?”
Mirrors have an important place in the history of child development.
Jacques Lacan, a psychiatrist, noticed that when babies between 15 and 18 months old look into a mirror they recognized themselves (the mirror stage). This developmental milestone is regarded as an essential marker of the baby’s self-awareness and emerging identity as a distinct and unique individual.
Mirrors provide the opportunity for kids to explore:
- their own movement, and
Mirrors and other reflective surfaces are fascinating tools for exploration, discovery, and creativity. *Ding, Ding Ding!!
How to support exploration:
Location of Mirrors for infants and toddlers. Plastic mirrors mounted to walls, crib sides, and the ceiling over the diaper-changing station-would be a great place to begin. (Check the edges and if sharp, wrap in cloth tape)
Show your emotion. Invite a child to sit next to you in front of a mirror. Demonstrate facial expressions that express a range of emotions—sad, happy, surprise, frustration, fear, or anger, for example. Challenge the child to name the emotion and to mirror it in the mirror.
Getting dressed or blowing your nose. Invite children to put on dress-up clothes in front of a mirror. Allow ample time for trying on hats, wigs, scarves, and aprons.
Playing with mirrors to reflect light and wondering how our image is reflected teaches children a beginning understanding about the properties of light.
Bounce light off of different surfaces. A large plastic “baby” mirror, held freely, is especially good for this. Have children use mirrors to look behind themselves. “Catch” some sunshine and reflect it to another surface outside or inside. Children can use a mirror to examine their face to draw a self-portrait.
Draw yourself. Place mirrors in the art area. Children are more likely to draw from the observations they see in the mirror and not from memory if they are encouraged to focus on parts of their face they don’t usually begin with, such as their nostrils. Ask, “Do you see the holes in your nose? How many are there?”
Reflections of loose parts. Use a framed mirror as a tray for table-top sensory exploration. Gather a variety of soft, textured, loose parts. You might choose materials from nature (leaves, twigs, feathers, and grass)
Okay so where to purchase mirrors?
Mirror tiles, available at home stores, are an inexpensive. Buy mirrors at a dollar store. “Baby” or designed-for-preschool plastic mirrors can be ordered from preschool, or scientific, education supply companies. Also available at home stores are large sheets of mirrored acrylic board. Ask to have the sheet cut into 2- by 4-foot pieces—they are easy to store and open the possibility of cooperative art and socialization activities.
Thank you to all the wonderful teachers and programs that capture these lovely moments in their classrooms and with children, you are inspirational.