Our Atelier

Our AtelierOur atelier is one of the most beloved rooms in the house. It acts as our art studio, science lab, library, writing center and playroom. I was inspired by Apartment Therapy’s, February Jumpstart Project and Jennifer’s inviting writer’s workshop, to re-examine and reorganize this important space.

My fascination with ateliers began with my first study tour of the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy. The intent of the atelier in these schools, is to provide children with the opportunity to explore and connect with a variety of media and materials. The studios are designed to give children time, information, inspiration and materials so that they can effectively express their understanding through “100 different languages.”

The aesthetics of the ateliers in Reggio Emilia are breathtaking! The use of space, the presentation of materials and the displays of student work are extraordinary. Unfortunately, they do not publish many images on the web, but I do recommend getting an inside glimpse into these incredible spaces in the books, Children Art and Artists and Children, Spaces, Relations.

In my own experience with designing classrooms, I have witnessed first hand how thoughtful design can influence children’s’ behavior and learning. Every decision about presentation, organization and selection of materials will have an impact on how children interact with their environment. For this project I applied principles of thoughtful classroom design to our family atelier and have already seen a positive change in the girls’ patterns of behavior.

For a gallery and more detailed information on the decisions I made in the re-thinking our atelier – please visit, How To: Design a Space for Playful Learning.

Resources & Inspiration

Reggio Children

North American Reggio Emilia Alliance

Aesthetic Codes in Early Childhood Classrooms – Design Share

A Wonderful Reflection on the Reggio Emilia Experience



With over 10 years of EDU experience and a growing family, Mariah started Playful Learning in 2008 as a resource for parents and teachers. In 2010 Playful Learning received the Parent’s Choice Gold Medal, and in August of 2011, Shambhala Publications released her first book, Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder. Mariah has an M.S. Ed in Elementary Education and was that girl sitting in the back of class thinking about what she would do differently if she was the teacher. Now she is happily working with a team of gifted educators to bring life-changing lessons to children, families, and schools around the world. In her free time she can be found taking long walks, enjoying a cup of tea, or swimming in the Atlantic with her husband and two daughters.



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