Encounters With Materials in Early Childhood Education  book cover
1st Edition

Encounters With Materials in Early Childhood Education

ISBN 9781138821460
Published September 20, 2016 by Routledge
104 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Encounters with Materials in Early Childhood Education rearticulates understandings of materials—blocks of clay, sheets of paper, brushes and paints—to formulate what happens when we think with materials and apply them to early childhood development and classrooms. The book develops ways of thinking about materials that are more sustainable and insightful than what most children in the Western world experience today through capitalist narratives.

Through a series of ethnographic events and engagement with existing ideas of relationality in the visual arts, feminist ethics, science studies, philosophy, and anthropology, Encounters with Materials in Early Childhood Education highlights how materials can be conceptualized as active participants in early childhood education and generators of human insight. A variety of examples show how educators, young children, and researchers have engaged in thinking with materials in early years classrooms and explore what materials are capable of in their encounters with other materials and with children.

Please visit the companion website at www.encounterswithmaterials.com for additional features, including interviews with the authors and the teachers featured in the book, videos and photographs of the classroom narratives described in these pages, and an ongoing blog of the authors’ ethnographic notes.

Table of Contents

List of Figures


Chapter 1. Thinking With Materials

Eventful Material Relations

Materials in Early Childhood

The "Material Encounters in Early Childhood Education" Project

Inquiring into materiality


The arts as mode of inquiry

The studio

Encounters With Materials and the Reggio Emilia projects

Inviting conversations through images

Diffraction as a Mode of Inquiry

Diffracting with concepts

This Book’s Entanglements with Paper, Charcoal, Paint, Clay, and Blocks

Chapter 2. Paper: Movement


The Movements of Making

Continuous Motion

Caught in the Currents


Movement Across

Paper in its Final Move

Chapter 3. Charcoal: Encounter

To Meet

To Touch

To Attend

To Open

To Respond

Chapter 4. Paint: Assemblage



Blending and Bleeding



Chapter 5. Clay: Ecologies

Clay in the atrium studio

Clay in the forest

Clay at the river

Meso and Ethoecology


It Matters

Fostering and Nourishing

Folding In

Ecologies of Practice

Chapter 6. Blocks: Time

The Weight of Time

Playing with Time

Time as Lived

Time as Intensity

Transitory Spaces

Afterword: Noticing



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Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw is Professor of Early Childhood Education in the Faculty of Education at Western University, Canada.

Sylvia Kind is Faculty Instructor, Department of Early Childhood Care and Education at Capilano University, Canada, and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Faculty of Graduate Studies at the University of Victoria, Canada.

Laurie L.M. Kocher is Faculty Instructor, Department of Early Childhood Care and Education at Capilano University, Canada.


"Through vivid vignettes and extensive theoretical grounding, readers are challenged to reconsider taken-for-granted assumptions about the role of materials in the early childhood classroom. This groundbreaking, deeply layered book will remain important to me as I revisit and reflect on its ideas, and I highly recommend it as a must-read for educators in the disciplines of both art education and early childhood education."

--Pat Tarr, PhD, retired art and early childhood educator, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada

"'What if…?' This essential question propels this open-ended exploration of the ways that young children and responsive materials interact in early childhood classrooms. The authors invite us to ponder with them, to notice, to question, in ways that move us beyond the conventions and constraints of traditional practices and provisions for young children. Sometimes startling, always provocative, this text rewards careful and considerate reading, as it reminds us how often we tend to structure even the most 'unstructured' aspects of early childhood curriculum, prohibiting truly productive encounters between children and the 'stuff' that offers unknown possibilities."

--Christine Marmé Thompson, Professor of Art Education, Pennsylvania State University, USA