Our Stories

The Sadnah: Creativity and Exploration on the South Campus

May 7, 2015 by Yael Uhr (Faculty and Staff)

Children need the freedom to appreciate the infinite resources of their hands, their eyes and their ears, the resources of forms, materials, sounds and colours. – Loris Malaguzzi

On the South Campus, we are privileged to have a dedicated studio space, the Sadnah, which is a place for creative collaboration and inspiration for all the students and teachers. Formerly the carriage house of the property, the Sadnah was transformed into a space filled with light, color, and a variety of interesting materials. My job as the atelierista (the studio artist) is to work with large and small groups of children to facilitate the use of new materials and artistic experiences and to work with teachers on planning similar experiences for their own classroom work. Materials that we work with include clay, wire, natural objects, and repurposed materials. Additionally, I introduce techniques such as sewing, printmaking, weaving, and painting. The idea behind presenting such a wide variety of materials and techniques lies in one of the core beliefs of the Reggio Emilia Approach: that every artistic medium represents a new language that children can use to express themselves more fully.

Throughout the course of the year, I have had the opportunity to work with children and teachers from pre-kindergarten through first grade on a wide range of projects. In pre-kindergarten, an exciting collaboration with sixth grade students developed through the second half of the year. Having expressed an interest in how to use open-ended materials, some of the sixth grade students, along with their teacher Ms. Collier, teamed up with their pre-kindergarten Reading Buddies and began a dialogue with Mr. Pournaras and myself about how different materials can be used to represent their work and thinking. This collaboration has included a tour of South Campus by the sixth graders, time spent with me on North Campus sorting materials, as well as small group work with the pre-kindergarten students using clay, light tables, watercolors, and overhead projectors. It has been a fruitful partnership thus far, one which we hope will continue well beyond this year.

The three kindergarten classes have worked on several different investigations this year, and have been introduced to techniques such as sewing, clay work, printmaking, wire sculpture, and collage. Using these techniques, among others, the students worked on creations ranging from a solar system to a life-size airplane, a family quilt, and self-portrait sculptures. These new “languages” opened up limitless possibilities for the students’ imaginations.

In first grade, we continued a Pesach tradition started last year, whereby the Hebrew and Judaics teachers collaborate with the atelierista and students to create afikomen covers made with cloth, ribbon, fine markers, and watercolors. The covers were a beautiful display of children’s colorful designs filled with Pesach symbols and Hebrew words. In General Studies, the children also worked with me in small groups on projects including dioramas for an investigation on the ocean, and currently on book cover illustrations for their Author’s Tea portfolios. The students have been very excited to work on their portfolio covers both in the classroom and in the Sadnah with things such as paint, pastels, collage and even drawing applications on the iPads!

The Sadnah space provides endless possibilities for exploration and inquiry, and the staff value this space as an extension of their “homebase classrooms.” We look forward to the future as we watch this space evolve and adapt to each investigation.