Morning, in photographs.

Each morning is full of transitions; for teachers, students, and parents. We all contribute our individual strengths and have our individual needs for these transitions. Here’s a peek at one of our morning transitions at Burlington Children’s Space.


This is me.

One goal of a therapeutic preschool is to help children grow emotionally. We provide the opportunity for children to draw self portraits because it can be a therapeutic activity that leads to a more expansive emotional repertoire. Young children often do not have a lot of control over their lives and are expected to fall in line with the choices of the adults around them. But when a child creates a self portrait, they can choose to represent themselves in any number of different ways and the choice is completely up to them. There is a moment right before the child starts drawing when they make the choice about how they would like to present themselves to the outside world. For some children, this comes easily to them but a lot of children have to spend time thinking about what part of themselves is important enough to depict in their artwork. It is empowering for children to be given the opportunity to choose how they present themselves to the world, without any of the adults in their life helping them make the choice. Some children used the mirror to draw themselves as they are seen from the outside. Other children imagined themselves as older or younger versions of themselves. A few children drew themselves in an old and beloved setting or a new and exciting one. One child even insisted on drawing her family in her self portrait. Any of the ways a child chooses to draw their self portrait gives us (the people viewing their art) insight into the way they see themselves and the way they want others to see them. Children also learn more about themselves while drawing a self portrait, which leads them towards even more emotional growth and understanding of themselves. As teachers, we can interpret these insights in an infinite amount of ways. By looking closely at their artwork we can come to understand these human beings even more deeply and help them to learn and grow in a way that fits them individually. Enjoy these beautiful windows into their souls.
-Curriculum and writing by Natalie Stroud, Green Preschool, Burlington Children’s Space

If it was windy inside, it would splash my milk all over the world!


I can feel it on my arms and legs.

It looks like it’s blowing the trees.

It’s a little bit quiet.

It blows the sky and the clouds.

It blows our hair. It comes from the sky and the earth.

Yesterday it was really windy. Chloe’s hat got blown across the road. I saw a rain.
The trees were shaking. The wind moved my hat, too, but it didn’t blow off.

When the wind blows on the water it makes little ringlets. When the wind started my mom said, “Come in the house, quick!” Then it was all lightning-storming. If there’s a tornado, hurry up and go inside. It blows the trees out and water hits it. It can blow stuff over, even bats.

The burrs did not move in the wind because they are so strong.

Did you know stones can put out lightning?

Today it’s not windy because it’s hot. It’s sunny and windy at different times. The tree bark won’t move if the wind hits it. The wind can push a tree down, thunder-storming. The branches got blowed down from the storm.

If she was wearing roller skates, the wind would push her so fast!

If it was windy inside, it would splash my milk all over the world!

Yesterday it rained down. There was giant puddles. I got to jump in them! Mommy let us jump in the mud puddle with no shoes on!!!

The sun can burn the frog’s eye. The frogs can’t feel the wind because they don’t have skin like us. I have SKIN!

What does the wind sound like? Burlington Children’s Space preschoolers are listening for the wind.  Listen along with us and describe what you hear in the comment section below.


Finders, Keepers, Researchers, Creators.

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“If you’ve ever happened upon a forlorn object that seemed to invite a second chance, that refused to be ignored, you’ve been overcome by the urge to scavenge. And if you’ve perceived that thing, not for what it was but for what what it could be, you have known what it is to let your imagination roam. Artists and children are notorious scavengers. They look at rubble and rusty parts with a fresh pair of eyes, investigating the curious shapes, visualizing something far more wonderful than a lifeless log or a weather beaten can…. Found objects appeal to the artist and child in all of us; what may appear worthless may also be irresistible.”– Joseph Ruggiero, Found Objects, 1981.

Searching for objects; finding, collecting, organizing, and displaying objects; studying found objects and using them to create works of art: these are the underpinnings of art and science in museums and classrooms alike. Infants at Burlington Children’s Space are now building work habits common to curators, artists and scientists, based on a fundamental human trait: curiosity.

Our collecting of objects began with one child’s interest in gathering rocks, sticks and other items,  while out in our local community. As we explored Roosevelt Park, rocks caught a child’s eye and were picked up. Another day, it was the broken bits of a bright orange flying saucer that caught the child’s interest.  Soon, the collecting turned into a regular act. As teachers, we realized the value and commitment behind this process of collecting. The child continued to fill fists with rocks and other items holding onto them tightly as we made the journey in our strollers back to school.  We began embracing this interest by collecting with this child and engaging with this process of looking for items to collect. Other children in our classroom began to notice the collecting and joined in by picking up items from the ground. Items included:  sticks, rocks, broken watchbands, pebbles, a coffee stirrer, a ripped up baseball, bottle tops, zip ties, and the list continues to grow.



Collected displays of found objects, called Cabinets of Curiosity or Wunderkammer, have an important place in the history of museums as we know them today. “Wunderkammer or curiosity cabinets were collections of rare, valuable, historically important or unusual objects, which generally were compiled by a single person, normally a scholar or nobleman, for study and/or entertainment….As time passed and the wunderkammer evolved and grew in importance, the small private cabinets (which nearly all wunderkammer had begun as), were absorbed into larger ones. In turn, these larger cabinets were bought by gentlemen, noblemen and finally royalty for their amusement and edification and merged into cabinets so large that they took over entire rooms. After a time, these noble and royal collections were institutionalized and turned into public museums.”-

When we realized the depth of interest in collecting items out in the community, we knew that we needed a way to fully invest in this collecting. Children often did not want to leave their found items at the park when it was time to return to school. We decided to honor this by allowing the children to bring the items back with us. Children opted to grasp items in their hands or on their laps while we went back to school. We felt passionate about allowing the children to bring the objects they found back to school. This enabled the class to further explore them and to keep them for future research. Soon hands were not enough to hold all the findings. Cloth collecting bags were then made for the children. When we returned to school, the items were explored in the classroom. Some were put into clear containers allowing them to remain on display and accessible at all times.  Large amounts of rocks and sticks now line our shelves in glass jars. Other materials are left out in the classroom to be explored, used as tools, or as a means of story telling.



“Our ability to understand the natural world depends on the collection, preservation, and ongoing study of natural history specimens. These collections are the physical record of Earth’s life forms and processes.” -The Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections. This article on the importance of collecting specimens goes on the say, “Collections of objects often serve us in ways that could not have been imagined at the time when they were made. Sometimes these unanticipated uses can help solve today’s most pressing scientific problems.”

It’s important as well as empowering to allow children to collect and bring items of their choosing back to school.  The building and keeping of these collections supports social learning and scientific inquiry. As members of the Burlington community, children are making connections as they find, keep, and explore items that interest them. Bringing these items back to school allows them to not only remember the items and location but also to share their findings with peers, families, and other members of their school community.  The found objects are open-ended and often found in nature; they provide for open-ended learning which lends itself to many opportunities for deep, meaningful understanding of their world.   As researchers and scientists, the children are forming and strengthening their abilities to inquire about their world through theirs acts as collectors.  They observe, ask questions, predict, and investigate throughout this process of collecting and then furthering their research as they use dough with the found objects.

“A constructivist approach to science education in early childhood would focus first and foremost on the ways in which young children think as they interact with the physical and natural world. Everything that we offer children to interact with in the classroom must take into account their activities, materials, and environments in the broadest sense.” -Christine Chaillé and Lory Britain, The Young Child as Scientist, 3rd ed., 2003.



“The amassment and display of found objects for their aesthetic qualities dates back to at least the 16th century, when the collections of individual enthusiasts were displayed in private “cabinets of curiosities,” or what the Germans called “Wunderkammer.” But it wasn’t until the 1900s that artists began to incorporate found objects into sculptural works as an artistic gesture. The term “found object” is a literal translation from the French objet trouvé, meaning objects or products with non-art functions that are placed into an art context and made part of an artwork; what we now call “the readymade” is an updated version of that idea.”

Famous artists who have worked with found objects include Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Salvador Dali, Kurt Schwitters, Robert Rauschenburg, Tracey Emin, and Andy Goldsworthy, whose objects are found in nature. Currently, there is a popular resurgence in the use of found objects and materials among artists, inspired by the D.I.Y. and ecological art movements of the 2000’s. Assemblage is a type of three-dimensional collage which often incorporates found objects; this form has been used by many artists throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

Once the found object collections were displayed in the classroom, we wanted to further explore these open-ended objects with an open-ended medium. We have begun bringing out our found items when we work with dough as a way for the children to learn about both materials in an engaging, child-directed way.  Children rediscover their found items as they manipulate dough with the items and explore how dough and their items work together. It is exciting to watch the children’s ideas emerge from using these objects in dough. Using sticks as a means to poke, dig, and lift the dough, they create their own artworks out of their found objects. Where this creative impulse will go next is up to the children but our minds can’t help but wander… possibilities include sculptures, prints, three-dimensional collages. When working with children and found objects, ideas and opportunities are limitless.


This article was co-written by Rebecca Mack, atelierista, and infant/toddler teachers,Julie Montera and Miranda Paquette, at Burlington Children’s Space in 2016. Classroom testimonies are in italics. References and recommendations for further reading on found objects and constructivist curriculum can be found below and linked throughout the article.

Chaillé, Christine and Lory Britain, The Young Child as Scientist: A Constructivist Approach to Early Childhood Science Education, Third Edition. Allyn and Bacon Publishers, Boston, 2003.

Ruggiero, Joseph. Found Objects: A Style and Source Book. Clarkson N. Potter Publishers, New York, 1981.