If you have not seen the series on Story Workshop on youtube produced by Opal School of the Portland Children's Museum and The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, please stop right now and take 6 minutes to watch this one. We are confident that viewing this short film will enrich the way that you imagine what is possible with materials, the school environment and learning. There are six videos in this series on Story Workshop and how this approach is inclusive, inspiring, socially constructive, beautiful and empowering. You will find the whole series listed once you watch the first. One of the most powerful pieces of the narration is:
I expect the environment to communicate what I believe about children. They are all competent and capable. They come to this work full of experiences and with stories worth telling. When given the time and tools to do so they will readily and eagerly take every opportunity to share those stories, those pieces of themselves. They will do so because that is what we do as human beings from the moment we are born. We share our stories to make sense of this world that we live in.
In our work, Ashley and I are often asked to help teachers rethink their environments and to help schools to redesign their spaces for learning. This approach requires that we start with what we believe about children and learning, what we know about well-designed spaces and the well-being, focus, motivation and meaningful student and teacher work that they support. In the municipal schools for young children of Reggio Emilia, aesthetics are understood as an underlying thread that holds everything together...our relationships, our interactions, our learning and our work.
This morning I found another link through a friend with another great resource on environments and materials linking it to children's use of technology...Thinking with Things. They feature some inspiring videos of children working with materials, loose parts, recycled and natural materials.
There are so many resources out there in the world to support our work in these areas! Let us all keep sharing them as we discover them and as we design beautiful, well- stocked environments that reflect the best of what we believe and know about children and ourselves.