We still have spaces in all of our workshops. This Saturday 12/1/18 we have a great Photography Workshop  


Saturday December 1, 2018 9am to 3pm Cost: $75

Presented by Christina Bianchi and Patricia Hunter McGrath

In this workshop we will discuss some of the ways we work with children to manipulate images, negotiate perspectives and illuminate challenges. What was once primarily considered a tool for teacher, documentation in our classrooms has become an essential instrument for communication, storytelling and creation in our classrooms. In this workshop we will address the ways we have opted to integrate this ubiquitous form of technology as way to deepen our reflective practice with children, and explore:  

  • How to take great pictures?
  • How do pictures help to tell a story?
  • What is the language of photography and how does this language support children’s imagination?
  • How is photography used to represent children’s ideas and uncover children’s theories?
  • How is photography introduced to the children?
  • How does photography alter our understandings of the world?
  • How does the photography expand and deepen the curriculum?


Thursday, January 31, 2019 6:00 pm – 9:00 pmCost: $50

Presented by Patricia Hunter McGrath and Christina Bianchi

Spend the night exploring light, shadow and transparency with two experienced atelieristas as we explore how light tables, overhead projectors and immersive digital environments have been used to support, uncover and develop children’s’ interests and ideas.  Through hands on experiences, provocative questions and co-constructive interactions we will unpack how to move with fluidity between children’s theories, representations and investigations

  • What is the role of the adult in facilitating the choice of materials to be used with the light table?
  • How do we follow children’s ideas through a wide range of light-driven experiences?
  • What questions do we ask ourselves to support the children’s processes?
  • How are materials an essential ingredient for collaboration and shared meaning making?
  • How can the light table become a catalyst for children’s learning?
  • How is light used to create focused classroom environments?
  • Why is the light an indispensable tool for the classroom


March 20, 2019 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm Cost: $60

This workshop includes materials for the creation of a resource book for your continued reference

Presented by Patricia Hunter McGrath

Join us as we do an in depth, hands on investigation of this limitless material. Despite its presence in many classrooms, watercolor is a surprising medium to work with. Slight variations in paper, pigment saturation and setting can lead to dramatic and unexpected results. When considering which materials to introduce, the fluidity of this paint and the unpredictable nature of the relationship between gesture and line make it ideal for supporting a class of individuals in becoming a collaborative group. The creation of our initial color palettes helps to draw children’s attention to the changes in our environment and foster our connection to the natural world as well as our community. Together we will explore: 

  • How are watercolor provocations used to support and uncover children’s thinking?
  • How do we follow children’s ideas to evolve in work with watercolors over time?
  • What questions do we ask during observations with watercolor to support children’s processes?
  • How are these materials an essential ingredient for collaboration and shared meaning making?
  • How can this paint become the foundation for contemporary academic learning?


Saturday, May 11th, 2019 9am to 3pm Cost: $75

Presented by Berenice Vallejo

 Part of the fascination with the bad guy/good guy game, is that the children are exploring the concept of power; who has it, and how it gets used. In our current charged culture, teachers and parents grapple with the ideas of power as expressed in children’s play. In this workshop we explore one classes’ avenues of inquiry in this important exploration of power in our classroom and our society as we continue to support children’s understanding of the importance of being a part of the community. Together we will consider: 

  • How can close examination of “bad guys” and their power dynamics lead to a deeper understanding of children’s behavior?
  • How can investigations of character travel through a wide range of two dimensional and 3-d materials?
  • How can we support storytelling through new technological tools?
  • How does storytelling become a tool for collaboration?
  • How can storytelling in classrooms be used to change the dominant narratives in our culture?

 About the presenters

Patricia Hunter McGrath is the Executive Director/Atelierista of  Branches Atelier in Culver City, California. Over the past 20 years she has developed an innovated early childhood program inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach. From 2005 to 2007 Patricia developed the role of the Atelierista at Bold Park Community School in Perth, Australia. From 1998 to 2005 she was the Atelierista at Evergreen Community School where she developed a unique approach to children’s symbolic languages. Using clay, wire, paint, dance, etc. children enter into relationship with the materials and express, clarify and modify their ideas and theories. She also taught at the Growing Place in Santa Monica for 7 years. Patricia is an artist and has over 28 years of experience in Early Childhood Education.  Patricia has taught the Reggio Emilia Class at Santa Monica College and at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia.  Patricia graduated with a Masters degree in Human development from Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena, California. She also speaks at conferences throughout the United States and abroad and has visited Reggio Emilia, Italy six times.  She is also a contributing author of the book In the Spirit of the Atelierpublished by Davis Press and Insights and Inspiration from Reggio Emiliaalsopublished by Davis Press.


Christina Bianchi is the atelierista, naturalist and classroom teacher at Branches Atelier. Prior to becoming an educator at Branches Atelier, Christina worked as the Program Director for The Children’s Nature Institute bringing her passions for teaching, children and promoting environmental literacy to the agency. In addition to overseeing both the design and implementation of all new education programs and curricula; Christina also worked with Development staff on grants related to program development, managed a staff of Environmental Educators and coordinated and implemented volunteer training.


Becky Zlotoff created and has taught a preschool program at Santa Monica Synagogue for over twenty-five years. She has been a California Mentor for nine years, working in the classroom with college students, supporting the practical application of good early childhood practices. For twelve years, she was a teacher at First Presbyterian Nursery School. In addition to attending many workshops about the Reggio Approach in the United States, she has been on two learning tours to Reggio Emilia, Italy. Becky has presented her work at many local workshops and at NAEYC. With Mary Hartzell and Ami Cohen, she co-authored the chapter “Parents As Partners” in Next Steps Toward Teaching The Reggio Way.

Berenice Vallejo earned her BA Degree in Early Childhood Education from Cal State Los Angeles University. During her college years, she discovered her passion for working with children. Her teaching experiences started as a volunteer in Head Start program in East Los Angeles Occupational Center. Later she became an assistant teacher at the Vine Street and Commonwealth Elementary Schools in the LA Unified School District and then a teacher in private preschools in Downtown LA. including the Infant and Toddler Program at Hope Street Friends. While taking Reggio-inspired courses at Santa Monica College, she was a substitute teacher at Branches Atelier for a year before joining the community as a full time teacher. Berenice believes that the early years’ experiences are the core foundation to a child’s future and that together parents and educators help children build strong foundations for life.

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