From 2014 through 2016 I was resident Creative Learning Support at Wenona School in Sydney, Australia. Inspired by the pedagogical approach of the Reggio Emilia school I developed and facilitated a number of programs to engage students with curricular learning through arts, play and project based approaches as well as to enrich learning environments with inquiry provoking installation.
One of a series of workshops on weather, in this workshop students go on a series of walks outside, observing the clouds and looking for interesting pictures of clouds on the internet. Then they paint clouds individually using watercolour before joining together in small groups to create cloud kites from their paintings using straws, string and fabric offcuts.
What does today look like?
This installation produces an visual journal in response to the question, what does today look like? The result is a visual journey of student development, interests and styles, full of interesting patterns and themes, and also serves as a space for students to express the emotional highs and lows of their daily lives.
This installation in a shared learning space for students from K to 2 was constructed with bamboo, wire and zip-ties. It served as a meeting point, a living reflection of learning and a refuge for over 18 months. Throughout this time it transformed from a shelter, a nest and finally a shadow theatre before being decommissioned.
The Feeling Forest
This workshop for the development of emotional intelligence starts with the story of The Feeling Forest, an allegorical tale in which the heroic character learns about the impermanence of emotions from a stoic peacock who teaches the value of patience and deep breaths as well as the connection between emotional states and body sensation. In the story emotions are personified as Mixies that live in the feeling forrest. At the end of the story the kids draw pictures of Mixies on a small pieces of card. The result is an array of visualisations of the different emotions experienced by the children, a deck of cards which can be used for ongoing guidance and support through role playing and theatre sport games where kids have to embody the emotion they are dealt.
This installation evolved over the course of a year. It began with a walk to find autumn leaves. Students painted the leaves with autumn colours and arranged them on a painted silhouette of a tree. The tree hung in a shared space and with each passing season, new elements such as flowers in spring and rain in winter were added, reflecting changes in the environment.
This installation was created for Harmony Day 2016. After hearing the story of a group of children who searched for two leaves that looked the same (eventually realising that all leaves are both the same AND different), each student painted a leaf and then together we assembled them onto a pyramid frame to represent the the theme of Harmony Day, 'Our diversity is our strength.'
This workshop begins with the story of Rainbow Days. The protagonist paints a picture every day for a year so that she can see what a whole year looks like. Then, as a group, the kids collaborate to paint, in watercolour, a visual representation of a year. In this example they were arranged at the work according to when their birthday fell and we ended up with this beautiful map of the year. Finally, each kid was given a frame and invited to pick a moment from the timeline that they would like to keep. We then cut out that section and displayed the work as a series of moments.