Holistic Approaches

What can you expect in my classroom studio?

When you enter into my art studio you will see a variety of projects happening at once.  The daily schedule set up for maximum amount of student led learning, experimentation and exploration.  Materials are organized in centers or specific cabinets, allowing for full ownership over the working space.  Tables are arranged to suit students' needs throughout the year. Sewing centers with dress forms transform into printmaking centers and later fold into a mounting center closer to art show time.  The room is responsive, moveable, and alive. The week opens with skill acquisition, followed by work days, and later reflection/critique days.  Students may work alone, in pairs, or in large groups depending on what interests them. 



So what approach do you actually follow? 

I was trained as an art educator at Rhode Island School of Design, where the focus was on project based learning, teacher as a guide and mentor, and open ended projects with backward planning.  The curriculum that I write does not have a fixed ending product in mind, the children create the piece, not me.  I believe wholeheartedly in the approaches of the Reggio Emilia schools, and Maria Montessori's teachings.  Within my courses I infuse the ownership and love of exploration and student led projects through open ended, theme based discussions and honoring and respecting the ideas, processes and discoveries of my students.  Children are people in their own right, in every stage of their life, my role is to guide and teach my students.  While I am the facilitator and guide, the students have equal rights to be respected and to be heard.  The respect I refer to is not only in the form of an atmosphere of respect, but also the respect of their ideas, aesthetic and values. 

My goals in my teacher practice are: 

    • Create and uphold an alive environment for the students, show the proper storage and care of materials, and help them to take care of their materials and their space through guidance. 
    • Allow for space for the opening and closing and reconnecting to projects through the artists' process with a flexible curriculum and process grading systems. 
    • Foster responsible, adaptive artists who are have a thirst for knowledge and who are problem solvers
    • Promote learning in an inquiring, cooperative, nurturing atmosphere through student and teacher initiated experiences
    • Support learning through the senses. 
    • Promote mindfulness and meditation as well as journaling as an integral part of self discovering and nurturing one's inner artist. 
    • Teach outside the four walls of the studio through outdoor, gallery, and museum exploration and experiences. 

I believe in learning through living and that the best learning takes place in a creative, unrestricted setting where we can embrace limitless ideas that target the whole child. 

If I can empower each child to be confident, creative, intelligent and reveal their unlimited potential, they will change the world. 

Love & Kindness

D

A conscious parenting minimalist holiday gift guide for toddlers

Being a minimalist has its amazing perks: it is easier to get dressed in the morning, I have more money freed up for experiences like travel, and the ability to focus more on life, and living it with less focus on "stuff."

One time when being a minimalist and conscious shopper gets tricky is during the holiday time, especially those certain holidays that involve 8 days of gifts, or loads of presents under a festive evergreen tree.  I do not want my daughter's memories to be fed by consumerist culture, I want to build memories based on family time spent together learning and experiencing life. 

Being a mother and a minimalist means quite simply that I work my very best to purchase or acquire a specific type of toy for my child.  Toys that encourage imaginative play, are made with fair labor standards, can be passed down and stand the test of time. This way, the toys and gifts are selected and curated in a way to add value, and not deplete resources or discourage imaginative play. 

For me choosing a toy isn't about a "good toy" versus a "bad toy", rather it is about bringing consciousness to selecting purchases and what she plays with. Is it beautiful? Does it feel good to the senses? Does it leave room for imagination (or conversely do all of the thinking work for the child)? Will it inspire imaginative play? Is it made ethically, can it be sourced fair trade or second hand, and will it stand the test of time? 

Below are my picks for a conscious, loving holiday.

In my opinion the best gifts are experiences, love and time well spent with one another, but a wooden tool set is also a great addition. 

Wooden Toy Workbench: handmade in USA

Wooden Toy Workbench: handmade in USA

Hammer Balls: made in Thailand

Hammer Balls: made in Thailand

Wooden Tree Branch Blocks: handmade in Germany

Wooden Tree Branch Blocks: handmade in Germany

Sensory Activity Play Pack: Fair Trade, assembled in Nepal

Sensory Activity Play Pack: Fair Trade, assembled in Nepal

Waldorf Doll: handmade in Brazil

Waldorf Doll: handmade in Brazil

Dolls and lovies with sensory appeal and without fixed faces help a child develop their sense of exploratory imagination.  Imagine cuddling a plastic hard toy with a fixed grin and playing a nurturing mother to this item? Children love to emulate and imitate adults and their daily activities. By giving children objects that are not fixed, that are malleable both in touch and image, the child can use that toy for more than one thing.  A doll with a less fixed emotional face gives their imagination free reign. Waldorf dolls are warm and soft, so they are appealing to the senses and have a calming effect on a child. This minimal face helps the child cultivate their inner picturing abilities. 

Playsilks: Fair Trade from China and USA

Playsilks: Fair Trade from China and USA

Playsilks can become a cape, a veil, a belt, a fort, a den, waves, a baby blanket...the list goes on.  As a vegan I searched for ahimsa silk or non-silk playsilks but did not find any that were overall as eco-friendly and responsibly made as Sarah's Silks. If you have any other suggestions, please comment below. As always, finding these bright beautiful silks secondhand would also work. 

Bolga Basket: Fair Trade from Ghana

Bolga Basket: Fair Trade from Ghana

Olive Wooden Bowl: Handmade in Germany

Olive Wooden Bowl: Handmade in Germany

Wooden Spoon Set: Handmade in Jordan by disadvantaged men and woman

Wooden Spoon Set: Handmade in Jordan by disadvantaged men and woman

Rainbow Wooden Peg Dolls: Made in Germany

Rainbow Wooden Peg Dolls: Made in Germany

bogobrush, compostable toothbrush

bogobrush, compostable toothbrush

Owl Gourd Maraca: Handmade in Peru

Owl Gourd Maraca: Handmade in Peru

Kid's Musical Instrument Set: Fair Trade Peru and Bali

Kid's Musical Instrument Set: Fair Trade Peru and Bali

With Love + Kindness, 

D