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Inspired by the resource, Beautiful Stuff we invited the children to fill our studio with their personal collections of beautiful materials.

“I know what materials are: metal, wood, all the stuff you build houses with… books…whatever you can do stuff with, except people…shoes are made of material… concrete is material…paper… everything you find around…even the classroom is material! -Dario age 5

“If we furnish our schools with only indestructible, childproof, throwaway, and discardable objects; it teaches children to be careless in the use of things. On the other hand, if they use beautiful objects and something of value is damaged, a teachable moment occurs. Grief is expressed and real values are learned. Children learn about caring.” -Marvin Bartel, 2015

“People are not creative in general but in doing something concrete…For some it will be music or mathematics, or working with clay…Real creativity comes from finding your medium, from being in your element.” -Ken Robertson, 2001

We asked the children Downtown Kindergarten, What is beautiful?

  • Beauty reminds me of when I am little, making beautiful art.
  • Pretty and purpley
  • Cute
  • Rocks because they are hard.
  • Earrings because my mom has them and they are shiny.
  • Diamonds. My mom and dad let me hold them.
  • Making ornaments for the Christmas tree because it makes the branches beautiful.
  • I love circles.
  • My cars at home because they have pictures on them.
  • A sparkly purple pink rainbow because it makes me feel like a flower inside.
  • Glittery
  • Sparkles like the sun
  • Beauty is anything

Our Tables became landscapes for imagination. They were the perfect backdrop to create beauty; to recognize it in our creations, in others and in ourselves. The warmth of the wood offers a homey feel and the soft visual palette highlights the colours, textures, and design of the children’s work. If “children’s creativity relies on the creativity of the adults in their company” (Portland Children’s Museum, 2008, 2010), then we must be able to observe, appreciate, and invite possibility into our pedagogy. I desired a classroom aesthetic that makes dwelling in possibility easier. For example, I replaced a newly purchased classroom carpet. Gathering on a bold, grid lined carpet invites ordered seating; however, it impairs the viewer from imagining the carpet is something else. Sticking labels on our tables translates the same issue: We have to looked beyond the colours and the lines to see the child’s creation. Why impair ourselves when there are alternatives?