Paper as Provocation – An Encounter Between an 18 month old and His Kitchen Cubby

  • by Sonya Shoptaugh ON February 14, 2013

    This is a short story about Anders, an 18 month old boy, and his caregiver, Maija. It is a story about inviting the unexpected into our lives with a sense of eager anticipation. And it is a story about taking a common material – paper – and making it compelling, inviting, full of humor and whimsy.

    Maija is interested in the Reggio Emilia Approach. I am supporting her engagement with the philosophy and we meet once a month to discuss all things great and small pertaining to her learning process. The following experience is told through the words and photographs of Maija.

    “While Anders napped, I prepared my first full on, intentional environment for him. The cubby space in the kitchen, under the counter, is an area Anders would go into occasionally when we were playing.


    I decided to cover the walls in white paper that had “fish scale” shapes / flaps cut into it, adding tactile, visual interest point to the space; white paper on the floor; a two layer (one longer, one shorter) “curtain” in front of cubby entrance; wadded paper “balls” on floor in cubby. The final addition was a battery powered closet light to illuminate the dark cubby space and for LR to push on and off (an activity he likes to do around the house with light switches.)


    Before Anders awoke and discovered the transformed cubby space, Suki the cat began exploring it and made herself at home. She seemed very curious and interested in all aspects of the new space.

    lars paper day 013 (600x800) copy

    I was prepared with my camera (still and video) to capture Anders discovering the new cubby. He noticed immediately upon stepping into the kitchen and went right over.

    lars paper day 022 (800x600) copy

    He became a little shy of the paper-strip curtain. It seemed to create an impediment to his movement. I reached in and turned on the light to see if it would embolden him to come back or enter the space. This peeked his interest …cubby2

    By late afternoon, the inside of the cubby was fairly paper-less, and new paper games were being invented.”

    lars paper day 084 (800x600) copy

    Sonya’s reflections: Children are born with a sophisticated capacity for perceiving their environment, and for engaging intimately with what is around them. When we care for the environment children live in, we care for children’s capacities for building new relationships, new meanings, and new discoveries to occur in their lives.

    Maija and I decided she would explore paper with Anders, giving him opportunities to experience the pleasure of this every day material, and develop his abilities to use paper as an expressive language. One of the challenges I gave Maija was to capture the story visually so it could be shared with Anders, his parents and me, allowing all of us to gain meaning from what took place. Thank you Maija, and Anders’ parents for giving me the chance to share this moment from your daily lives more broadly. And Anders, I look forward to seeing what further discoveries you make …

  • Comments(4)

    Would love to hear your thoughts! Please feel free to comment.
    • Danielle
      February 21, 2013 @ 5:30 am

      Oh, I love this and I love the journey all three of you are taking together.

    • Bendywot
      February 21, 2013 @ 2:02 pm

      I hope you recycled all of that.

    • Midge
      November 1, 2016 @ 2:11 am

      People nomrlaly pay me for this and you are giving it away!

    • auto scout
      November 3, 2016 @ 11:51 am

      hello, what is a coach supposed to do?A coach can say hello, exchange quick pleasantries and move on.This assumes that the story in the article is accurate.The anecdote about BG reeks of a planted swipe against BG. Note that the writer tried and convicted BG in the same paragraph by declaring the meeting a recruiting violation.

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Name *

    Email *