Picture taken by Sheena Cooper, April 2012.

Unpacking Educational Environments Visions from Reggio Emilia, Australia, Sweden, Denmark and the United States. A Selection of Papers Presented at the Conference (Institute of Early Childhood, Macquarie University, North Ryde, New South Wales, Australia, May 16, 1998)

This article includes four early childhood education conference papers. They are:
  • Environmental Visions: Daisies and the Possible by Alma Fleet and Janet Robertson
    • This paper looks at the visions of different environments. The authors describe entrance ways from various settings and discuss what these entrance ways say about the spaces and people who work within. They examine the ateliers in Reggio Emilia and the outdoor schools present in Norway. All of these environments are informed by the values and beliefs of the culture and the teachers working within these schools. They are thoughtful spaces that represent a particular image of the child as a thinker and a learner. It will influence the practice of people who read it as they cannot help but consider their own environments and what they are intentionally, or unintentionally, telling people about the value of the work taking place within the environment. This article continually reinforces that the authors are inviting readers to consider environments that are reflective of local ideas and practices, rather than to use the descriptions presented in the paper as recipes to follow to create environments.
  • Melbourne via Reggio Emilia by Kerrie Trebilcock
    • In this paper the author describes her experience in planning and building a new centre. She lists all of the elements that the staff and follows up with what was actually able to be created. This article provides useful information to any educators who are in the position of planning a purpose-built space for children.
  • Packing the suitcase: What to pack? by Margo Hobba and Tony Hobba
    • In this paper Margo and Tony Hobba describe the process of designing a number of childcare centres in Australia. Tony is an architect and Margo is an educator. Each has been greatly influenced by the other so that Margo is an educator with an eye for space while Tony is an architect with a feeling for education. Working together they create spaces for children and teachers. The essential items to pack in the suitcase are: "an image of the child as having rights as well as needs, an image of teachers as learners who are interested in children and keen to understand their uniqueness, and an image of the family as being the dominant force in the childn's life, whose role as teacher must be recognized, celebrated and enhanced" (p. 29).
  • Melbourne via Reggio Emilia by Diane Bourke
    • In the final paper Diane Bourke describes the centre where she works and the environmental changes that have occurred. As with the previous three papers this paper offers educators ideas that can serve as inspiration for changes that they would like to make in their own centres.

All of these papers discuss aspects of the physical environment. They can be used by all educators in order to help improve their physical environments in order to benefit the children in their care.


Fleet, A., & Robertson, J., (1998). Unpacking Educational Environments: Visions from Reggio Emilia, Australia, Sweden, Denmark and the United States. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED432362.pdf