This blog is a place to share research, experiences and inspirations around teaching and the world of Early Childhood Education —which I believe includes just about anything and everything creative.


Milk + Bookies, a nationwide charitable organization that inspires children to give back, using books as its currency, was introduced to me by a friend who had a Milk + Bookies Birthday Party for her daughter last weekend. Way to go Svea + Lou!

-Lou “I was happy and excited about giving books away for my birthday.”


Milk + Bookies combines two essential and worthwhile efforts: literacy promotion and service learning. While the book donations are imperative to our mission, just as important is instilling the seed of giving into each host and their young guests, sparking feelings of importance, self-confidence and the desire to give and give again.”

Be inspired!

Essence of Shape



mh11 Exhibition @ Beginnings Gallery, NYC

“The series (originally made for an exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Kampen in the Netherlands) consists of 109 unique sculptures varying in size between 5 and 14 inches. I began the creation process by drawing objects that appear frequently in my work, for example, plants, faces and pottery in their most simple form, narrowing each item down to the essence of their shape. The drawings were then cut out of wood and finalized with house paint and acrylics. Being inspired by Art Brut and Folk Art I decided to paint what are rather abstract forms in a naïve way, using about 24 colors and a uniform brush size.”

Merijn Hos, 2012
Dutch illustrator and artist based in the Netherlands

See more from this series at and more from the exhibition in NYC here

via It’s Nice That.

Eagle Street Rooftop

Imagine the look on a child’s face the moment they discovered this rooftop garden for the first time and how much of an impact it would have… how many questions it would provoke and the learning that would follow…

Video from Food Forward TV profiling “food rebel” Annie Novak, co-founder and farmer of Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Greenpoint, Brooklyn – part working farm, part educational and community space.


Pass It On!

“Here is the video that wowed the Association of Children’s Museums conference this morning. John Seely Brown made the personal request that we release it as widely as possible — and so here it is!

The video was made at the request of Sarah Orleans, Executive Director of Portland Children’s Museum and was collaboratively created by Steve Davee, Melody Bridges, the Opal School students, and me [Susan MacKay].

The voices you hear are those of 8 – 11 year old Opal Public Charter School students, who know well the profound connections between play and learning.

These words (recorded during an unscripted lunchtime conversation) are evidence of the power of environments for learning that have as a first priority to sustain curiosity and the joy and wonder of learning — both the wonderful and the wondering. They are also evidence of the deep pleasure of learning in itself, enough to engage and inspire and carry us on through the hard stuff.

Enjoy it — and share it!” — May 10, 2012

JR and a Kindergarten in Paris

“Kids from a kindergarten school in Paris participated in the Inside Out Project! Their parents played with my portrait as well. I loved their creativity!” -JR

Textile Art + Science

La Vie en Rose 2007. clothing. 25 x 18 x 19 cm.

Wildes Herz 2003. hair, wool, filling material. case: acrylic glass, wood, vanish 26 x 21 x 31 cm. Edition:15.

Bob 2004. hair, wool, filling material. 160 x 130 x 95cm.

= Fascinating. By Brigit Dieker. Photos by Thomas Jautschus.


Julian Germain: Classroom Portraits

Peru, Tiracanchi, Secondary Grade 2, Mathematics

Julian Germain’s “work ranks among the best in contemporary British documentary photography. The theme of The Future is Ours – Classroom Portraits 2004-2012 is as simple as it is rich: group portraits of children in their classroom. In this series, Germain reinterprets the traditional class photo in his own, perceptive way. He enters a classroom while a lesson is in progress, the pupils sit in their usual places and he only moves a child here and there to ensure no one is obscured by anyone else. He sets up his camera on the spot where the teacher usually stands, at ‘child height’. In some cases he also shoots a short video from this angle, for which the children have to sit completely still. They are thus aware of the photographer and look directly into the camera. As a viewer, you look at the photo and 10, 15 or 30 pairs of young eyes gaze back at you.

Saudi Arabia, Dammam, Kindergarden, Activities

By photographing in colour with a large-format camera, Germain captures even the smallest details. The children’s intent faces and the objects in the classrooms tell the story of the pupils and their environment. Germain also asked the children to complete surveys that asked both serious and playful questions. He converted the results into infographics, providing the viewer with more information about the children’s daily lives as well as their music preferences, aspirations and so on. Germain thus gives us a glimpse of how the children experience the world.

Brazil, Belo Horizonte, Series 6, Mathematics

The power of the images lies in their direct connection to us as viewers. We all think back to our own class photos and wonder what happened to our classmates. Germain’s photographs invite us to imagine what the future holds for these pupils; what their dreams, hopes and opportunities are. By presenting different countries, schools and age groups, he creates a picture of the similarities and differences in contemporary education across countries, cultures and social classes.”

EXHIBITION: The Future is Ours | Classroom Portraits 2004- 2012 | 02.JUN.2012_02.SEP.2012
Nederlands Foto Museum Nederlands Foto Museum

BOOK: Classroom Portraits | Julian Germain | ENG | Prestel Verlag | €59.95

via itsnicethat
words by nederlandsfotomuseum

I am tempted to hop on a train to Rotterdam …

THAT Blue School.

A couple of months ago at a party full of young, creative Parisians, I spent over an hour talking to a new dad about education, my work and my plans to create a ‘preschool like no other’. After listening to me babble on about this school that I have been dreaming up for the last five years, he asked me if I had heard of The Blue School “It sounds amazing, a lot like what you have just described to me, a friend heard about it from Inez & Vinoodh. Look it up when you get home.” The second I got home I looked it up and within minutes, I was overwhelmed with emotion, mixed emotion … my ‘preschool like no other’ practically already existed! Joy, Envy, Respect, Envy, Sadness, Envy, Excitement, Envy, Hope, Envy, Appreciation, Envy, Wonderment, Envy.

READ: Stories of Transformation: Blue (School) Skies Ahead by Sam Chaltain

The Blue School has been popping up everywhere and I feel a twinge of envy every time someone asks me if I have heard about this amazing school in New York City or when my mom emails me the latest news article. I could only dream of engaging in conversation with Sir Ken Robinson and architect David Rockwell… and that mission statement of theirs, it’s the mother of all mission statements…

“Our mission is to cultivate creative, joyful and compassionate inquirers who use courageous and innovative thinking to build a harmonious and sustainable world.”

The aesthetic of the actual living-breathing school and their well designed curriculum guide … to die for – Blue School is the real deal! A dream environment for those of us who believe in what our friends in Reggio are doing, believe in the whole child, believe in education for sustainability and believe in the forces of creativity in all that we do.

READ: Curriculum Guide

Today, I am proud to say, Envy has transformed into Aspiration.

Envy: a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck. Aspiration: a hope or ambition of achieving something.

Cheers to you Blue School! Thank you for your leadership and advocacy in early childhood education, for the bravery and hard work you put forward in reaching your goals and for that twinge of envy you have given me – that twinge will help me to reach my goals.

READ: A Home for Blue School


Note to self: Embrace the movement. Be proud that there are others out there who are like minded. Contribute in your own way. Get moving.

Note to you: Whether you have been dreaming up an atelier or a whole school project, let the story of The Blue School be of inspiration to you…a motivator… get moving!

Get Adults Thinking More Like Children!

“What’s it really like to see through the eyes of a child? Are babies and young children just empty, irrational vessels to be formed into little adults, until they become the perfect images of ourselves? On the contrary, argues Alison Gopnik, professor of psychology and philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley.

The author of The Philosophical Baby, The Scientist in the Crib and other influential books on cognitive development, Gopnik presents evidence that babies and children are conscious of far more than we give them credit for, as they engage every sense and spend every waking moment discovering, filing away, analyzing and acting on information about how the world works. Gopnik’s work draws on psychological, neuroscientific, and philosophical developments in child development research to understand how the human mind learns, how and why we love, our ability to innovate, as well as giving us a deeper appreciation for the role of parenthood.”

Conversation: Documentation

Documentation: Transforming Our Perspective from Melissa Rivard on Vimeo.

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