Wednesday, October 8, 2014

“Children’s lives are shaped by the places they inhabit” (Taylor, 2010, p.1).

Recently, the Wellington-based organisation REID (Reggio Emilia Inspired Dialogues) held the first part of a professional development symposium focussing on the importance of ‘place’ for young children's learning. The session began with a guided walk around places of significance to Mana Whenua in Te Aro by Liz Mellish, a respected elder of the local iwi. Te Wharewaka o Poneke, Te Aro Pa, Te Aro Park and the Waimapihi stream were part of the journey of discovery for participants.

The walk was followed by a seminar on place-based investigations with children by Dr Anne Meade. Participants were encouraged to discuss the places of significance within their own EC community, and to plan for investigations of these with their children.

The day finished with a wonderful visual arts response by participants that I led,  and this work has become the basis for a new exhibition at the Faculty of Education, Victoria University of Wellington.
The exhibition is a developing one as the REID teachers add their children’s work to the show over the next few months. 


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Aotearoa Arts for Peace in Early Childhood

Aotearoa Arts for Peace in Early Childhood
·         What is peace?
·         Why do we need it?
·         What does it look like?
Using the questions above as discussion points, several  EC centres created a ‘peace box’ (or boxes) with the children.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Trash shoe garden

Trash shoe gardens can provide colour, interest, and a bit of whimsy in unattractive and utilitarian spaces. This garden lives at in the Faculty of Education's quad at Victoria University, and was inspired by the book REmida Day (Reggio Children). The shoes were accessed through donations by staff and purchases from second hand shops. Individually and collectively the shoes can inspire and delight.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sustainable gardens

Sustainable gardens not only contribute to enhancing the natural environment of EC centres, but also to the aesthetics of children's learning spaces. Much has been written about this (see for instance, Artfully Caring for the Environment by Janette Kelly in Kia Tipu Te Wairua Toi - Arts in Early Childhood, or ReMida Day published by Reggio Children), and increasingly EC teachers are developing gardens with children in their centres.

These are photos of gardens developed on London's South Bank in conjunction with the Eden Project, and a once uninspiring area has been transformed into a place of beauty and sustainable functionality. Many of the ideas used in this space involve planting in a variety of different containers and in urban areas, where space is often minimal, container gardening can be a viable and attractive option.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


This is a New Zealand e magazine of professional practice that I edit and publish in order to keep practitioners and interested folk informed about current theory but also to show-case good practice in visual art education. All issues can be found on

My publications

If you are interested in reading any of my articles then you can find a list of my publications here:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Aesthetics and the early childhood environment.

Considering the aesthetics of the environment is an important consideration when planning an early childhood programme. This is important not only for children but also for the teachers who work there and the parents who participate. Gonzalez-Mena and Eyres (1994) note “Aesthetics is a worthy but often unconsidered goal when designing the visual environment for infants and toddlers [and pre-schoolers]. Children are more likely to grow up with an eye for beauty the adults around them demonstrate that they value aesthetics”.

Aesthetic preferences are very individual but are also cultural. Consequently we need to consider what we like as individuals, but we also need to carefully consider how our environments reflect the culturally and socially diverse communities we serve. Children’s well-being and sense of belonging is, I believe, very much influenced by the things they see in the environment that are familiar to them, that reflect their communities and what they know about their communities and culture.

Some ideas for consideration in setting up aesthetically pleasing and culturally reflective environments may include:

1)Paying attention to props in family making sure there are lots of different opportunities for play – dress ups/dramatic play equipment. Consider how these represent our different cultures.
2)Keeping spaces uncluttered and presenting things well and having a variety different art types around e.g. sculpture, masks, wall hangings from different countries etc.
3)Different images of fairies/gods/mythical creatures from other cultures.
4) Providing lots of different cultural artefacts and props for fantasy play.
5) Music from different cultures for background music or for singing and dancing.
6) Songs in different languages and waiata that are sung regularly – at group times, spontaneously.
7) Different types of instruments available e.g. didgeridoo, bongos and African drums (look at articles available from Trade Aid shops and ethnic stores).
8) Art e.g. real prints and paintings by adult artists e.g. parents who are artists, as well as reproductions.
9) Display photography – images of nature/art/animals/children doing things/children and their families/buildings/scenery/shadows/different cultural groups e.g. Family series from Ministry of Education and other picture packs.
10) Use light boxes for displays– with dyes/ and other creative materials/ coloured transparent materials e.g. glass beads/ leaves and natural materials/ethnic objects.
11) Display maps and flags from different countries.
12) Include recycled grocery packaging for dramatic play props – boxes/tins e.g. tinned corned beef/ Italian tomato tins/olive tins/ Chinese tea packets.
13) Use material with different ethnic prints for couch covers, cushions etc.

To view a range of different environments visit the photo gallery at