Over the past few years, I have been bringing open-ended materials around my community to create play installations. The project is called Play Lab.
I have been trying to find my role in Early Childhood Education: I consider myself a teacher and an advocate and a writer. I want to share what I know (and the things I am still learning about) with other teachers. The online workshops are one way I can connect with other teachers, but the big missing piece is that I am not a classroom teacher: I don't get up in the morning and go to teach children.
What I know about teaching and childhood is valuable, though, and it has been hard to describe, in words, wonderful things to do with children instead of illustrate those ideas through documentation.
So this week, Play Lab moved out of my garage and into the world! Play Lab has a home, in downtown Bellingham, about 600 square feet that will serve as a space for children to explore materials and ideas, and also for educators to learn about play-centered and child-led curriculum. I plan to be a careful observer and documenter and questioner, using what happens in work with children and teachers to inform the ideas that I pass on to all of you! The online workshops will not only continue, but they will become richer with the learning happening at Play Lab.
Play Lab will have drop-in open labs for exploration; registration programs for infants, toddlers, and 3/4s; open planning sessions for teaching teams; book clubs; and workshops for educators. I hope to work with area schools to help teachers add elements of true, child-centered play to their curriculum. I see Play Lab as a cyclical place: the ideas we choose to explore with children stem from educator curiosities, approaching all aspects of programming as action research.
Early Childhood is multi-faceted: we think about everything from the physical to the emotional to the cognitive, every day. Play Lab is a vehicle to learn more about childhood, and about teaching young children.
Bakers and Astronauts has been an important part of my work since it started in 2008, and I don't plan to let it go. I plan to let things progress naturally, with a special focus on Play Lab, and the online workshops here on Bakers and Astronauts. There will be blog posts, there will be new workshops, there will be Instagram stories! There will be ways for you to engage with Play Lab from afar, or come visit to see for yourself.
If you want to keep up with both Play Lab and Bakers and Astronauts, the best way is through the Early Childhood Playlist: a weekly email that tells you what I'm up to, along with the week's best Early Childhood content from around the web. Sign up here.
Whether you've been following along since 2008 or you joined somewhere along the road, thanks for reading my words. There is more to come!