Reggio Inspired – Lights

The following photos are from the classrooms at my school. My colleagues have created such glorious spaces.  I am going to post a series of elements. Today’s element is lighting.  There are two main types of lighting in today’s photos – twinkle lights and lamps.  Twinkle lights add a layer of magic and wonder.  It is a splash of  etheric joy.   Lamps cast a warmth and cozy feeling.

 Lighting at the top of the bookshelves with carefully selected branches in my first grade classroom.


Jenni’s umbrella chandelier.


 Patty’s Reading Corner.


 Krista’s wall of lights in her library center.


 My Hopes and Dreams Tree – waiting to be imbued with crystal beads and stars.


 Tina’s wall of lights in her Art Studio.


 Jenni’s warm light at the arrival table.


 Jennifer’s light over the library center.


 Jennifer’s twinkle lights.




 Crystal’s twinkle lights in housekeeping.



Patty’s twinkle lights in housekeeping.

How do you use lighting in your classroom to expand and build atmosphere?

IMPORTANT:  Be sure to check with your local and state fire codes and regulations on what you are allowed to hang and where.  We invited a local firefighter to help us determine what was safe.  Always choose the safest string lights – those designed not to heat up (because they are used on live trees).  I buy flame retardant and spray it on all draping fabrics.

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  1. Laura says:

    That’s amazing. Do you keep the main lights off all day? Some of it looked pretty dark still? Lovely, too bad we have 1,000 fire codes and can’t use lights or hang anything from the ceiling…. One can dream.

    • Sally says:

      Yes – I keep the main lights off all day. It can get dark but rarely. I have HUGE windows the length of the north side of the room. This keeps the room light. Our fire code restricts wall decorations to 20% of the entire wall space in the room. All drapes have to be coated in fire retardant.

  2. Jessica says:

    I love the first photo with the draped lighting above the bookcases. Can you explain how this was accomplished? What type of lights, and what is the fabric they are draped in? Looks lovely!

    • Sally says:

      I used strings of white holiday lights and sheer curtains. I used cream colored sheers. I love it as well!

      • Meg says:

        The lights don’t get hot against the fabric?

        • Meg says:

          Also how many sheet curtains did It take to get the effect? I’m also referring to the very first picture

          • Sally says:

            About 4 sheer curtains.

        • Sally says:

          This is a very important point. You want to be sure to get the lights sold for trees that are nearly zero heat. They are super safe as they are made for live trees. I turn them off daily and always do a check at the end of the day to check the heat of the lights. I never want to assume the lights are okay. Malfunctions happen so it is important to be cautious and safe. I also treat the fabric per our fire marshall requirements.

  3. Alison says:

    Sally, these are so inspiring. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Emily says:

    beautiful ideas. Are the lights battery operated?

    • Sally says:

      They are all electrical lights.

  5. Jen says:

    Thanks for the inspiration. I, too, am limited as to how much fabric I can use due to fire codes. Your building is beautiful. Are you a private school? Look forward to your future posts.

    • Sally says:

      Actually, it is a public school! You just have to work with your fire department.

  6. Jill says:

    I LOVE these rooms! So homey! How do you get the branches to stay put on top if the bookshelves in the first picture and the branches in the last? Thanks for sharing!

    • Sally says:

      The branches in the first photo are lending against the wall. The branches in the last photo are actually standing attached to a base. We also use fishing line to help stabilize.

  7. Ansley Martin says:

    I love each of these pictures so much! For some reason I am worried about the lights burning next to a piece of fabric for an extended length of time. I guess it seems like that could start a fire! I want to do it in my classroom though. Just curious if you thought it was completely safe. Do you weave the fabric and lights or just hang fabric in front of the lights in some way?

    • Sally says:

      It is a good concern to have. There are pre-cautions to take to make sure it is a safe display. First, make sure you choose the correct lights. There are lights that do not heat up – that are always cool – remember – they are designed to sit on a live tree for hours. I test mine by plugging them in and leaving them on for hours and hours – and touching them to see if they are still cool. Next, I buy flame retardant spray and spray the fabric. In the top photo, my classroom, the fabric and lights touch but I took precautions. I also turn them on in the morning and off at the end of school – so it is never unattended. Hope that helps.

  8. Kathleen says:

    I, too, am a light fanatic, Sally. I have many lamps and sparklies. I don’t get any hassles as I switched to all LED lights- both lamp bulbs and string lights. They don’t heat up at all, are super low energy, and should never need replacing in the many years I have left of teaching. It was an investment, to be sure, but the price is coming down. I do put on a row of the ceiling fluorescents so we always have enough light. It keeps me, the kids, the parents, and the district happy. Kathleen

  9. patricia says:

    I would love to hear more about your hopes & dreams tree

  10. Kaui L. Blomfield says:

    Where did you purchase the flame retardant spray?

    • Sally says:

      At the Fabric store like JoAnne.

      • Diane Spencer says:

        I love your room, but please think again about using flame retardants.. the jury is out as to the health risks, particularly for children.

        • Sally says:

          Yes, Diane. You are so right to have safety in mind. It was a requirement for my district that all fabric was sprayed with fire retardant. I made sure I sprayed them outside and let them dry completely before they were brought into the classroom. I also made sure that the fabric was out of reach of the children.

  11. kaui says:

    Sally where did you purchase your flame retardant spray for fabrics?

  12. Clotilde says:

    Dear Sally thank you SO for all your wonderful pictures :)))
    I’m french and work with children aged 2_3_4. I LOVE visiting you site, it makes me feel as confortable and grateful as your pupils must certainly be
    I wish you the best for your class

  13. Christiana Diokpo says:

    Hello Sally,
    Thanks for sharing. The idea of lights, at the various centers is fantastic. Kindly explain the underlying, philosophy, behind this.

  14. Debra Walter says:

    I am an in-home child care setting and so have less fire code restrictions. I love these lights! I am only restricted by the size of my rooms. I want to try all of these! It is so great to see examples and such variety. It really inspires me! I am really looking at ways to bring “light” into the classroom. Thank you for inspiring us!

  15. Laurel says:

    I am looking forward to running fabric and lights on my ceiling. I have an open ceiling in my lower level because of pipes etc. This will be a great way to cover it as well as add a beautiful new dimension!

    • Sally says:

      TIP: Remember to check fire code in your area. I treated my drawings with fire retardant and kept the container handy if questioned.

  16. Jill says:

    Beautiful, all warm and cozy looking! Thanks for sharing the photos.

  17. Holly says:

    Hi Sally!
    I am a new to Reggio teacher that starts Monday with zero training. Have taught many levels but never Reggio. Any suggestions for a first timer? Due to a personnel issue it will be a trial by fire start I am afraid. Thank goodness I will have an experienced co-teacher.

    • starletta says:

      Reggio is an inspiration. Let the environment be the third teacher utilizing tools such as light, mirrors and provocations:)


    Thanks for the inspiration!!!

    Wonderful ideas!!! <3

  19. Sue Hancock says:

    I am an eighty year old retired teacher. I love seeing all the wonderful ideas. Oh how I would have loved doing these things. Many of these ideas can be used in assisted living or nursing facilities.What a blessing to experience this.

  20. Krystal says:

    How are the curtains suspended?

    • Sally says:

      Two ways typically – heavy duty staple gun or bamboo rods.

  21. Michele says:

    Beautiful, but completely illegal in my state. I wish we could hang things from ceilings and have fabric like these examples. Your teachers have done a great job. Enjoy the freedom.

    • Sally says:

      So sad. I do think we have to take all steps to make sure everything is safe like applying flame retardant on fabric and using only the lowest heat twinkle lights. But with care and following safety guidelines – it can be safe.

  22. Blanche Nicholson says:

    I love the pictures. Thank you for sharing and inspiring us!!!

  23. Jessica says:

    I am loving these blogs. My daughter goes to Rosa Parks ECEC., we love it. Keep up the great work

    • Sally says:

      How wonderful! Rosa Parks is such a great school! Thank you for the love!

  24. Kelly says:

    Absolutely beautiful. I work with children with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties and have noticed when I have my lamps on rather than the main lights there is a much calmer, relaxed atmosphere in the classroom. I’ve just purchased some drapes, fairy lights and fire retardant spray after reading this! Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Sally says:

      Thank you Kelly! I have really noticed that behaviors lessen with the improved lighting. It is really amazing.

  25. Brenta Clem says:

    As adults, we can “feel” when a room calms our attitudes. Introducing young children at early ages to calming rooms can only produce adults who will recognize these same feelings when they enter a space.

    • Sally says:

      I could not agree with you more! And when children are calm, they can stay engaged with their surroundings and friends.

  26. Pamela Henning says:

    Hi Kelly,
    I’m a first grade teacher in a public school. I’m tired of the conditions in public schools-namely, the classroom conditions such as the fluorescent lighting, metal, etc., and want to change the conditions as much as I can so that the environment is calm, soothing, and engaging. I’m trying to find resources that would help me set up a classroom that would foster this goal. Can you advise me on where to start?
    Thank you!

    • Sally says:

      There are lots of ideas on Pinterest-Check out Fairy Dust’s boards. Also, look for any of Fairy Dust’s online courses! This wonderful group of colleagues will also give you great ideas! Remember, be patient with yourself and take baby steps!

  27. Hana says:

    The lights with the branches are beautiful! Do you have a close up of that one? I’d love to see if I can incorporate that into our homeschool classroom.

  28. Deb says:

    Beautiful presentations!!
    I am very curious about your hopes and dreams tree. I hope you might share.
    Thank you.
    Happy summer smiles

  29. I get so excited when I see your new pictures. This is a whole new process for our preschool here in Canada. I better check with the Fire Chief to see if I can do it.

    • Sally says:

      That is my plan always – check with Fire Code and take the necessary steps. You can usually do something – depends on the situation. Safety is priority #1!

  30. Nelli says:

    Thank you Sally! Just great ideas!!!

  31. Vanessa says:

    Just beautiful, what a great idea!

    • Sally says:

      Just a few simple lights and a sprinkle of creativity can change the environment of the classroom!

  32. Tanina says:

    I love these ideas especially the first one. I have had visual impairment for 47 years maybe longer as I know there were some signs at an earlier age. With that said My concern is whether there is enough light to avoid vision problems to arise as children read & learn in these different areas.

  33. Nancy says:

    Please share more about the hopes and dreams tree!

  34. tudoreldragoi@ says:

    Beautiful and simple.

  35. Karla says:

    I have been looking for a way to incorporate photos of my students in their space, so the picture frames on the shelves of your 1st grade room with student selected branches caught my eyes. From what I can see it looks like all the photos/pictures are the same? Could you “enlighten” me? Thanks.

    • Sally says:

      Karla! What great eyes you have! Those were the “families” that came in the frames when they were purchased since school hadn’t started yet! I do think the lighting really attracts attention to the frames and bookshelves, don’t you?

  36. Janet A Davies says:

    The spaces are lovely and inviting. They seemed full of depth and potential provocations. The spaces also seemed to reflect an individuality that was responsive to the environment and the one looking at how to enhance it. Very lovely. Thank you.

  37. laxmi says:

    Thank you Sally for sharing, I use the lights during christmas time to decorate our Christmas tree. We switch the LED lights in the morning and switch them off at the end of the day. It works perfect.

  38. Lisa Cote says:

    Nice examples! Flameless candles or tea lights would be lovely too I think.

    Re. safety and flammability, I’m concerned about the idea of spraying flame retardant on anything–generally flame retardant chemicals are highly toxic. I’m trying to eliminate them from my home. See:

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