About Me

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I am the studio teacher in Zach's Place Studio, an AMS Montessori teacher, an artist, a mother and much more.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


We have a new blog address!!! Our school website has been updated and I will now be posting through the new site. Please click on this link to find us.
I look forward to seeing you there.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Our week began with a puppet show. Kathryn Ross, our head of school, started with a brief introduction to the concept of a puppet and puppetry, bringing a black glove to life with the help of her imagination. Soon there was a rabbit hopping around her lap and a snake slithering toward an eager audience. Next, she asked if the children would like to see a puppet show! The answer was an audible and unamimous, "YES!". Soon Amy (our ceramic teacher) and I were ensconced in the makeshift theater, acting out the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff with handmade stick puppets, while Kathryn narrarated.The children were eager to put on performances of their own and soon the studio was a rhapsody of puppety in motion. Many of the students have begun sewing hand puppets and decorating them with the many colorful supplies available for use.
Later in the week, the extended primary class decided to recreate the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff for one another, with their teacher, Vida, narrating.

It was another fabulous week in the studio. I am perpetually amazed by the flowing river of a child's interest and the bouyant joy of watching its curving progression of learning.

Monday, November 7, 2011

toddlers and pudding

Chocolate pudding paint? Well why not. I began with a table covered in plastic wrap and taped with blue painters tape (for no other reason than it was in large supply), then I emptied two cups of shiny, sweet smelling chocolate pudding onto the surface. I encouraged the children to use their hands to explore the pudding paint, much like finger paint.

While they work, I asked questions, like, "What does it smell like?", "What does it look like", "What does it feel like?", etc. It wasn't long before a child decided to pose a question of their own, "What does it taste like?" and of course, there is only one reliabe way to answer that question...taste it.

While we painted, we made a batch of pudding. The empty bowl soon filled with chocolate brown powder, cold milk and the swirling whisks of many small hands. Once they returned to their class we all sat around a table and enjoyed small paper dixie cups filled with chocolate delight.

puppet theater

I introduced the puppet studio, made from a large cardboard box painted black and given a curtain and back door, as a provocation for dramatic expression. The children were eager and enthusiastic to try out the new addition to the studio, quickly making puppets and taking turns putting on "puppet shows".Some children created a number of stick puppet characters and generated quick stories to act out in front of their friends.While others chose manufactured puppets from a large basket of hand puppets, finger puppets and stick puppets available for studio use, to entertain themselves and others.

Monday, October 31, 2011

toddlers and pumpkins

When I prepare for a day in the studio with the toddlers, there are several considerations that come into play. One is that the studio central supplies have many objects that would not be toddler friendly, so I always minimize the studio space so that everything available to the toddlers is safe and appropriate. Second, I pay attention to the developmental needs of toddlers and their natural curiosity for sensory exploration and scientific inquiry: how does this work, what happens if I do that, etc. AND I talk to the toddler teachers and our head of school a lot. So for our studio exploration this week we decided to investigate PUMPKINS. The children began by simply removing the seeds and insides from two pumpkins (one carving pumpkin and one pie pumpkin). While they worked, I asked alot of questions: How does it feel? Can you smell it? "Are there different colors in a pumpkin?", etc. And although many toddlers don't answer with words, many smelled, touched, looked, laughed and inquired through their senses into the nature of pumpkin. They loved the process and we literally spent nearly an hour just removing the seeds and orange gush. While they worked, I roasted the seeds for them to eat on second line. When both pumpkins were cleaned we carved one and placed the other in a baking dish with some water, cut side down and baked it until soft. The latter will reappear in a few days, when the children will scoop out the pumpkin meat and transform it into pumpkin pies!
The children really enjoyed this activity and I was once again remided how important it is to consider "experiences" and "process" as art, in and of itself.

leaves and puppets

The children spent a week discovering the new works in the studio. They enjoyed painting with colors inspired by fall,
tracing leaves carefully gathered from our outdoor environment onto beautiful rice printmaking paper with a black oil crayon,
and painting their leaves with liquid water color.Other students are creating three-dimensional, mixed media pieces with the various recycled materials in the studio. The puppet shelf is proving a big success. Many students have branched out and are making stick puppets. These are simply made using a dowel, a square of light muslin, newspaper or tissue and a tie. These are then decorated by the children to fit their vision and fancy. The children have enjoyed making them immensely. I have written the name and story that accompanies each puppet, however this student is the only one to have made the leap from making a puppet to using the puppet as a dramatic tool. Many of the students seem to have had very little direct experience with puppets and puppetry as a tool for dramatic expression. As another provocation, I am presently transforming a large box into a simple puppet theater and a few teachers and I are planning a simple puppet show during the next all school assembly.

I look forward to watching how these provocations may affect the children's investigations.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

an autumn studio

Perhaps it will be interesting to many of you if I share a birds-eye view of the studio and our celebration of fall. I consider every aspect of the studio as an invitation to discover, explore and investigate. In Denver the leaves are falling in a colorful carpet and the temperature is flirting with the cold. The studio has been transformed, bringing the outdoors inside and reminding all of us to slow down long enough to appreciate the majesty of the seasons, both in broad scope and in miniature. We pause to notice the array of colors in a single leaf, the sounds and smells, a supple leaf become brittle in a few short days and the other changes happening all around us. Children are naturally enthralled by their ever changing world and through their eyes and art, I am reminded just how magical this world of ours really is.

Pictured below is an example of the central supply area. As you can see there are containers filled with raffia, corn silks, fabric strips, buttons, wood slats, poms, ribbons, popcicle sticks, pipe cleaners, stickers, corn husks, paper bags and more. I always ensure that the set up is organized and beautiful, in keeping with both Montessori and Reggio values.In addition to the autumn inquiries, we have a number of students interested in puppets. As an extenstion of our preliminary paper bag puppets, I set prepared a shelf complete with several potential puppet making materials. Now, I get to observe the children in the coming weeks to determine interests, questions and thematic explorations
Stay tuned for more as the various interests unfold.