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.

Archive for Communication Centre

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

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.

Three Primary Colors/Colours.

Brining my computer into school on Monday… we had fun mixing our colors/colours with paint on paper, imagine how much fun we are going to have trying to re-in-act this! Catchy tune … super for english as a second language learners.

“Using new music written by OK Go, the video was conceived and directed by Al Jarnow, a pioneer stop-motion animator who made numerous classic educational and experimental short films in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s for Sesame Street, Electric Company, 3-2-1 Contact, and other shows.

via swiss-miss via brain pickings

The warmth of Eireann Lorsung

“I bring you candles in the early dark hours. I bring a photograph of the moon half-full, walking through a bright blue sky. I bring the yellow leaves lit up by low sun. I bring the smell of burn.

I bring the peat fire, wet blacktop, bodies of spiders curing in corners, rosemary, the grass wet in the morning.

I bring a wool cloth, a linen cloth.

In the dark part of the year we find a scratch of light where we can get it. The stars are brilliant. The snow when we have it shines. We are walking together in the darkness, in silence or talking, the sounds of birds and animals, the hanging boughs of yew with their bright red, translucent berries.”

* * *

“For the dark part of the year, I bring you a calendar full of drawings from my travels this year. I bring you warm words, bunnies flying kites, robins & rosehips, the Belgian winter. I bring you my child-self, and early mornings in a kitchen an hour outside Ghent. I bring the young women working in warm, bright cafés at winter’s early nightfall. I bring you something to read with your tea or coffee, on the bus or walking to work (careful, there!).”

* * *
WORDS & ILLUSTRATIONS by the warm & oh so creative EIREANN LORSUNG

Feel, Imagine, Do and Share

Just one of the many STORIES OF CHANGE taking place around the world!

DESIGN FOR CHANGE “is the largest global movement designed to give children an opportunity to express their own ideas for a better world and put them into action.

Children and adults learn through the Design for Change Challenge that “I Can” are the two most powerful words a person can believe. Children who have discovered this are changing their world.

This year, Design for Change reaches 33 countries and over 300,000 schools inspiring hundreds of thousands of children, their teachers and parents, to celebrate the fact change is possible and that they can lead that change!

The challenge asks students to do four very simple things : Feel, Imagine, Do and Share. Children are dreaming up and leading brilliant ideas all over the world, from challenging age-old superstitions in rural communities, to earning their own money to finance school computers to solving the problem of heavy school bags – children are proving that they have what it takes to be able to ‘design’ a future that is desired.”

Kiran Bir Sethi. Founder. Design For Change School Challenge

Summer Vacation

photo by xavier encinas

Happy Summer Everyone! Thank you for providing me with inspiration, sharing your knowledge, broadening the world of education online – to those of you who contribute on a daily basis, a BIG high FIVE, full of respect – and for all that you give to the children in your life.


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