A Magical Inquiry: Louise Kool and Galt Showroom with Students

My students and I had the pleasure of visiting the Louise Kool and Galt Showroom. Our deepest appreciation to Cathy and Sonia for sharing in our excitement and granting us the opportunity to visit their gem of a treasure.

It was simply incredible to find a space like this to take my students. For any professor looking to engage students in discover, exploration, dialogue around materials I highly recommend visiting. It would also be inspiring for teachers alike.

The Showroom reads like a preschool/toddler designed classroom with an abundant of rich materials, many which are currently on my wish list, lol! My favourite areas had to of been Sensory and Construction. The possibilities for learning in these areas are endless.

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The goal of our visit was to engage in co-exploring and/or co-planning with a partner and to reflect together on the endless possibilities for engagement, expression and belonging that result from using an inquiry approach with materials. Students were guided to manipulate the “light panels” and “loose parts” found in the showroom.

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As educators we take enormous pleasure in unearthing loose parts and the power of light explorations. Below are some of our discoveries and wonderings:

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Students had many questions and wonderings “How do objects change when placed on the light?”, “I wonder if light increase children’s attention, focus and sense of peacefulness?”, “What are the different ways we can use the materials to support development?”

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Students played with “light,” the Reggio Emilia Approach acknowledges light as a material children use, a language, a way for children to create new languages and possibilities. My students originally began their explorations sorting, patterning, matching, stacking– students were challenged to think deeper:”How does light invite spoken and unspoken dialogue?”, “How can we create a sense of belonging for children?” —naturally they found two people and a story emerged. By changing the set-up –intriguing new possibilities grow.

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Working in the construction area students engage in discussion. Their conversations involved: classifying [farm/jungle animals], counting [number of blocks to build structures], community [families and children] and environment [traffic signals, nature].  Students were encouraged to tie in HDLH foundations and Ontario’s ELECT.

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One of my students said: “I have used loose parts to create a narrative, I’ve intentionally placed my materials.” — “The story is about meal time, in the wooden circle I’ve placed two characters whom are about to eat. On the metal plate dinner was prepared.” – In our class we view loose parts as offering children the opportunity to understand untangle their past experiences and to engage in realistic, complex representations of their daily lives. Such objects keep children in the present, provide chances to test multiple ideas and possibilities for future use. Like children my student was provoked by the materials at Louise Kool and Galt’s Showroom she planned, and communicated her inquiry using loose parts.

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“How can we Create a Provocation with Number? Here two students experiment with the concept “number” by looking closely and observing naturally found and bought materials –and my favourite: jewels, inquiry naturally emerges and the students wonder aloud. Students were challenged to deliberately and thoughtfully create a provocation for children. Seizing the moment the students problem solve together.

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