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As a Reggio-Inspired Early Childhood program, ISP’s ECF 5 learners work with an Atelierista, Ms. Akshaya Krishnamoorthy, an accomplished artist and educator. An Atelierista leverages the children’s curiosity and understanding through explorative experiences with materials and mediums. Learners have time and guidance to engage with the “what” and “how” of materiality. 1 Atelier of Transformation.
The children build an understanding of transformation through authentic engagement and witnessing change with the help of wood, charcoal, walnuts, pine cones, avocados, fire, water, heat and time.
We started our year with charcoal. First came willow charcoal from the store. It was drawn with, it was pulverised to dust to see what it could do when it becomes powder. It was mixed with water to make “paint”, we failed. But there was one big question. What is this black thing? Some ideas were ‘black chalk’, ‘white chalk dipped in black paint’, ‘wood from a black tree because this has lines like a tree’ and finally ‘that thing you make barbecue with.’ Then came charcoal that was made at home. There was no doubt now. This was a branch/stick that had gone black. It took some time and experiments to agree that it was fire that made the branch black. Arabic gum, hot water and charcoal dust gave us our first batch of ‘class-made paint’.
Walnut husks, pinecones and avocado remains became pigment generators. Finding the right species of pine cone that produces pigments, dealing with the stinky walnut husks and wondering how green and brown avocado remains make red/pink ink.
The pigments are too watery and light in the beginning. We need to ‘cook’ them and test them. We would get different colours by ‘cooking’ them for longer or shorter durations.
Our Early Childhood Foundation programme is Reggio inspired. We believe in the image of the child. A child is capable, powerful and full of potential. Our projects inspire the children to be scientists, artists, inventors and thinkers. When a group of scientists were interested in water we set out a project that allowed them to explore, question and figure out “what are the qualities of water?” Pine cone ink that the children made was set out along with water as a provocation, on the other side there was salt and water. The children through experiments and observations grew to understand the differences and similarities between solubility and miscibility.
Through this little example from beyond the atelier you can see how these scientists become the observers, experimenters and producers of their learning.