Our Atelier

February 27, 2009

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 Unfortunately, they do not publish many images on the web, but I do recommend getting an inside glimpse into these incredible spaces in the books, Children Art and Artists and Children, Spaces,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


Mariah Bruehl is a parent, educator, and author of the book Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder (Shambhala Publications, 2011). In 2008 Mariah brought her expertise online, creating the Parents’ Choice Gold Medal award-winning Web site Playful Learning. In 2011 she launched the Playful Learning Ecademy, which takes virtual-learning experiences to a new level by incorporating the best practices in education with engaging hands-on lessons, bringing parents and children together from all over the world into a unique, creative, community environment.


  1. [...] Learning –  her Atelier is inspired by her own study tour Reggio Emilia classrooms in Italy. Her book is one I have heavily [...]

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