Our kids’ schedules are so packed with after school, weekend and school break educational opportunities (now your 3 year old can learn to sew or make movies with a simple class), it’s easy to forget learning doesn’t start and stop, as long as our kids love to learn. A new and free exhibit, “The Wonder of Learning: The Hundred Languages of Children,” which opened on Jan. 15, aims to demonstrate how early childhood education, specifically the Reggio Emilia approach, can produce life-long learners, and delivers some wondrous playtime besides. Read on to discover why your kids will love the interactive exhibit, too.

What is the Exhibit All About?

If you’ve been through the preschool admissions process, chances are you’ve encountered the Reggio Emilia philosophy, but did you know Reggio Emilia is actually a place in Italy? The Wonder of Learning is a 7,000 square foot exhibition hosted by Williamsburg Northside School, presented by Teaching Beyond the Square, New York City Encounters with Reggio Emilia, and Beginnings Nursery School, in collaboration with Reggio Children and North America Reggio Emilia Alliance. It demonstrates how children think and collaborate by showcasing the work of children and teachers from Reggio Emilia, where the eponymous educational approach has been practiced in early childhood since the end of World War II.

What’s In It for the Kids?

While the Wonder of Learning is an excellent source of information for educators and parents (schools can schedule private tours on the WOL website), it stands to reason an exhibit about kids should offer something for kids. To that end, two ateliers – a Natural Materials Studio (7th Fl.) and a Light Studio (6th Fl.) – are set up in brightly lit and peaceful  rooms alongside the exhibit. In the Natural Materials Studio, kids will create projects using materials like acorn tops, bark and dried flowers. In the Light Studio (which is open to the public on weekends), kids will manipulate objects with light projectors, and observe light as it hits reflective, transparent and opaque materials around the studio.

Why Your Kids Will Want to Come Back

Studio facilitators will be on hand to guide you through projects that you’ll create with your child, so if you’re thinking this could be an incredible alternative to your favorite indoor play space, you’re right. The ateliers will offer new experiences every couple of weeks. Come back again and again.

If you need to pick one day to visit, go on Apr. 18, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when WOL will host a Materials Day. Think of the outdoor event, also free and open to the public, as a giant version of the ateliers, where visitors can interact with and experience found materials in the open air. With any luck, the weather will be beautiful, so stay all day, basking in sunshine while you design a found object costume, create a collaborative plastic bottle cap mandala, or crawl through a cardboard city. Musicians will also be performing and helping visitors engage with sound-making materials.

“The Wonder of Learning: The Hundred Languages of Children”
When: Jan. 15 – May 15, Wed.–Sun., 12-6 p.m., & until 8 p.m. on Feb. 4, Mar. 5, Apr. 2, & May 7
Natural Materials Studio open during exhibition hours. Light Studio only open weekends.
Tickets: Free
Where: Williamsburg Northside School
299 North 7th St., enter on Meeker, btw. N 7th and N 8th
Online: newyorkcitywol.org

Have you visited this exhibit? Tell us what you think.

--Anna Knoebel

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