Classroom, Student, Teacher, and Studio Collaborations: Creating in our Natural Environments and Community

Today, groups of children from all classrooms at the Thompson building came together for a trip the canal. Here we found a natural, open-space where were able to set up an easel, canvases, different types of paper, paints, brushes, and other painting tools. The children-freely explored and worked in this space as they collaborated with one another, teachers and volunteers. They also conversed with passing adults. The teachers were intentional in having the children focus on the surrounding environment in hopes of making connections between their work and the natural world. You can see the children lying next to the canal, using the water to clean their hands. Here they noticed how the color disappeared from their hands and spread throughout the water, prompting some to take more of the water to use in their works. It was a rewarding experience to see this team of children and teachers (some of whom may have not been familiar with each other) work together to make such a large collaboration feel natural. We noticed many people walking along the canal stop and observe our group with curiosity. Some were even intrigued enough to pause and talk with the children about what they were doing. These experiences are so valuable in connecting to the outside world. We know we should all be advocates for our ever-important cause, but to allow the children to get out and advocate for themselves has value that cannot be overstated. The demonstration of collaboration and displayed curiosity can show those who are not in-the-know just how capable and thoughtful children are. Making learning visible in this manner gives a direct assist towards advocating the Reggio model and early childhood education in general. We look forward to many more like-experiences in the near future!


The amazing, accompanying teachers also shared their thoughts on this, and the meaning  of like-experiences…


Julianna Battista: St. Mary’s Child Center believes that young children are engaged, active learners who construct knowledge with peers and teachers. Authentic relationships are the foundation of learning, development, and change. Today, a group of children and teachers (from each classroom) collaborated together in a large group experience-Painting on the Canal. This learning experience engaged the children to investigate the world around while collaborating in small groups. Children began talking about the different things they saw around the canal- ducks, trees, water, water fall, blue, green and waves. Exchanges and dialog shared between children and teachers is evident when you look at their paintings. A group of children discussed and painted the ducks swimming in the water. Others expressed interest in painting the blue and gray waves they saw in the canal.


Jennie Atlogic: Painting on the canal was a valuable experience for the children. They observed things in their city and in nature, and had conversations with adults and peers about what they saw. While we were painting, I noticed that several adults who were walking on the canal stopped to watch the children or ask about what they were doing. The children got to show the community that they are capable of working together, handling materials and accompanying experiences with care, and creating beautiful and meaningful artwork.


Samantha Osborn: As young children are often very curious, we believe in letting children explore art in many different ways. This was done by giving the children the opportunity to paint in a different location outside of the classroom and studio. Taking painting supplies to the canal allowed the children to experience painting in a new way while also making the children visible to the community. The canal is a place where people from all over the city gather to eat, walk and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. As the children enjoyed this new exploration, people walking by got to experience the work of the children. Children are often heard but not seen by members of the community and this was a great opportunity for the community to see the children do one of the things they do best… creating art. We were lucky enough to have volunteers helping and as members of the community they also got firsthand experience with the children. There were also lots of people walking the canal enjoying the beautiful day that were curious about the children and what they were doing. Allowing the children to be seen on the canal in this way offered a unique approach for the community to experience children in a positive way.

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