On Display: Acorn School

Within our classroom we have become very inspired by various approaches to early childhood education, which compliment our Full-Day Early Learning-Kindergarten Program document and the Ontario curriculum.  Our eclectic approach consists of constructivism, inquiry-based learning, play-based learning, math problem solving, Reggio-Emilia inspiration, Montessori inspiration, and Waldorf inspiration to name a few.  

This Friday I wanted to feature Acorn School in Richmond Hill and spotlight their commitment to the Reggio Emilia-Inspired Approach.

Fallen Found Autumn Items
Created by Students at Acorn School
I visited Acorn School      a few years ago for the first time, and all I had been learning through my Masters of Education on the Reggio Emilia Approach came to life!  I remember walking around in complete awe at the beauty and detail in the traces of learning throughout the school.  There were children engaged at the light table, documentation available to read everywhere I turned, creative use of materials such as a bamboo display with dried lemons painted and hanging from the ceiling, and educators who were completely in-tune with one another and totally engrossed in learning alongside their students.  My visit to Acorn School gave me great hope that this kind of teaching and learning were possible within our own Canadian context.

Light Table Transparency Provocations

Today I am fortunate to call these committed educators my colleagues and friends.  They continue to inspire me with their passion for early learning.  Here is an interview with Acorn School's owner/founder: Rosalba Bartolotti, and one of their kindergarten teachers: Crystal Mastrangelo.

  • Could you provide our blog readers with some background about Acorn School?

Crystal: Acorn School has been open for six years now and has been rapidly evolving since it’s conception. Rosalba Bortolotti opened the school after visiting Italy in 1994 and becoming deeply curious about the Reggio Emilia approach. Her desire to practice the approach is infectious and she inspires the minds of everyone connected to the school, including children, families, educators, and the greater community. Acorn is truly a magical place where learning is rich and children are treated as unique individuals who are curious about and capable of making meaning of the world around them.

Van Gogh Provocation
Rosalba: The interesting thing about Acorn is that everyone who is part of the school is connected in one way or another. Whether it be through a family member, a brief encounter years ago, or a friend of a friend, everyone who has touched Acorn was somehow meant to be a part of it’s community. I believe this to be a true testament to the Reggio Emilia principle of relationships. Community and a sense of connectedness is the very existence of Reggio Emilia, everything else just falls into place. Humans innately learn from one another, as do children. Without relationships, can the diverseness of learning occur?

I was introduced to the Reggio Emilia Approach through my Early Childhood Education program at Seneca College. I became deeply intrigued by this progressive approach to teaching and I appreciated the way it challenged my thinking. The Reggio Emilia approach challenges us to rethink education and our perception of a child. What are they truly capable of?

  • If you had to highlight part of your practice that you are most proud what would it be and how might it benefit others?

Rosalba: The connections that I have made with other professionals around the world and seeing that what we do at Acorn School is valued and is inspiring for others. At the same time, those professionals help us value our practice more and make us a stronger school community. Inspirational people have visited Acorn continue to inspire us. They validate our practice, but also challenge us to keep evolving and questioning.

Lella Gandini visits Acorn School.
The most influential visit we had was from Lela Gandini, the North American liaison from Reggio Children. Lela put things into perspective for us. Not only did we hang on every word she said, we also listened to what she said. She didn’t beautify everything, but she questioned and critiqued our practice in a very constructive way that made us realize that our work is valuable and worth what we do with children. It validated my being with children, and my purpose for being with children.

On another note, as educators, we observe, we listen but do we think about where we take that observation? We say we listen to children but we are not sure where that can go next. When we observe and listen we must consider the interpretation to be ongoing and thinking about where the learning should go. What is the educator’s or parent’s responsibility of taking it to the next level? We need to be more interpretive of children’s work and their thoughts. We are responsible to build children’s rights and must support them because they have a voice. It is through us that they may be heard. The interpretation then becomes reciprocal because it involves children, parents, teachers, and others.

Crystal: I am most proud of the way we are constantly reflecting on our practice. We are always discussing what our children do and say and ask each other (teachers) what they think it means. The work we do with children is never stagnant and we are constantly trying to understand the children’s deeper thoughts while trying to push them to think deeper themselves. There is always something more to what a child shows you on the outside.

Showcasing some of Acorn School's winter collage
work that the kindergartens completed with
their Art teacher Tiz D'angelo Merion.

  • During my visit, I was most fascinated by your atelier (art studio) and the beautiful art pieces around your school.  Can you describe how you achieve these results with your students?

Materials used at
Acorn School.
Rosalba: My experience with an atelier is based on when I would go to Italy and see that it was more than an art studio. The atelier is the school. You walk through the school and children work on their projects, which are interpreted in different ways according with what they use. They use diff types of media to represent their thinking. It’s not just done in a single room it becomes the school. And the atelierista (the artist) is there to support not only the children but the teachers to extract thoughts that incorporate theories from their projects.  They are supported by the teacher and art teacher through some sort of representation.  IT COULD BE COLLAGE, PAINT, CLAY, SCULPTURES; IT TAKES ON DIFFERENT FORMS.

I use the book Art & Creativity by Vea Vecchi often.  In the book Vea states that she brings out the concept of life into something. For example, she goes deeper when children draw leaves, they make the connection that the tree produces something. That when they die they don’t produce apples. She connected it to life and death. She tells us to look at their work with a different perspective. She talks about the hundred languages and how they are crucial in the work we do with children.

She talks about the importance of organizations and the tools we use and the tools being pedagogical documentation professional development is digging deeper into childrens thinking. It becomes our work. We use it to support our theories and to support our ideas. Everything connects. Your professional development connects with the hundred languages, it also connects with the environment. Your environment had to be set and ready to support. Ask yourself, do you have other means of media that the children can use beyond pencil crayons and crayons that the atelierista (art teacher) can use with the children?

Acorn School's Art Studio
Crystal: Having an atelier (art studio) in a school can be a very powerful tool. Thinking about the theory of the hundred languages of children and how they need to express their learning through different media. Art becomes a language where one makes learning visible. I wonder if this teaches children and others to think about differing perspectives or to understand the concept that people interpret things differently?

It’s important to understand that you don’t need an art studio to be able to provide meaningful art experiences. You also do not need to be an artist. What you do need, is a profound respect for children and their ability to create beauty from anything. To start, we must look at the project work and interests that are occurring in the classroom and question how they can be represented in a different way. Provide children with real and high quality material and tools.

  • What is your image of the child?

Rosalba: The image of the child is complex yet simple. How do we see children? We do need to consider that children have potential, the capability of learning, in their own ways. They are competent and eager to take on challenges with the support of an adult. Carlina Rinaldi helps us put this in perspective when she says seeing children as unique subjects with rights rather than simply needs. They have potential, flexibility, and the desire to learn.

Many theorist including John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, Erik Erickson have influenced Reggio Emilia.  Not only is the image of the child important for us to conceptualize but we need to look at the image of ourselves as educators. What is the image of the teacher? Who are you as an educator?

One form of documentation at Acorn School.

  • What advice do you have for educators new to inquiry and documentation?

Rosalba: Question what your relationship is with the children, the school community, and your classroom environment. What is your image of yourself as an educator? What is your vision? Why do you do what you do?

Crystal: I think it’s also about finding your place and sense of peace within yourself. If you aren’t centred and balanced, you won’t find the motivation or inspiration to take on the challenge of transforming your pedagogical practice. Moving into a constructivist approach challenges what we’ve known since we were children and the traditional approach to education. That being said, we must consider how the world has evolved and the fact that we are preparing our children for a future that is unknown. Inquiry challenges children to think critically in a world that requires innovative thinking and creativity.

Opportunities to question and theorize.
To understand inquiry you must first journey into your own inquiry where you live and breathe an inquisitive spirit. Start by questioning what it really means to inquire. It simply requires one to question and wonder. If you do this yourself, you instinctively model such behavior for your students in the way you act and speak, but also in the way you live your life outside of school. Moving from a practice where the adult is considered the fountain of knowledge and the predictor of what children need to learn to a practice where one encourages children to challenge themselves and make their own meaning can be very difficult. One thing I have learned is to let go of pre-conceived expectations. “A constructivist oriented teacher is constantly questioning and learning and is experimenting as he or she goes. A constructivist teacher is in constant learning mode.” (Chaille, 2008, p. 48). I find this to be true within my own life, even outside of my role as an educator. In life I am always wondering and questioning. I enjoy taking on new challenges and experiencing something new. I believe this is what helps me impart a sense of wonder to the children I work with.

In order for inquiry to be authentic, the adult must hold a certain respect for the child and their ability to make meaning. This means to consider their thoughts and interpret them, while also having a sense of awe and wonder about children’s existence.
I leave you with this quote by Christine Chaille, “…only by being surprised by what children are capable of and by their unpredictability will you be able to go in new directions yourself” (p.48). In other words, to facilitate inquiry based learning you must hold a sense of openness to learning yourself that then supports the children you work with.

Acorn School, Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada.

Thank you to Acorn School for giving me the honour of displaying their practice and inspiring our blog readers.  

Be sure to visit Acorn School throughout the year @

Acorn School Website 

Acorn School Blog 

Acorn School Twitter

Acorn School Pinterest Boards

Please consider leaving any comments
or questions for Acorn School below.

Share your thoughts :

  1. The educators at Acorn are so inspiring! Wow! I feel I have so much to learn about documentation.

  2. Yes they are!!

    Documentation is a journey, and I feel like I have just begun! There is so much to learn!

  3. Amazing school!! How did you get the leaves to stick to the window so beautifully?

  4. Unprofessional, rude and absolutely unacceptable. Contacted Acorn School in Richmond Hill numerous times by phone/email and left messages but no one has the decency to returns the calls/emails/messages for 2 weeks. This reflects how incredibly concerning the poor conduct would be for a parent to not have access to contact the school to get in touch with her child. As a school, this is absurd and shocking. All parents should be concerned about this school's conduct, reliability and lack of professionalism.

  5. Excellent and very exciting site. Love to watch. Keep Rocking. 高雷中學

  6. Without fail, your writing style is top professional; even your website also looks amazing thank you for posting. community

  7. thanks for this usefull article, waiting for this article like this again. who is jesus

  8. Many people are depressed about the problems of assignment writing. Well, don’t worry about that because we are providing this assignment help sydney at a very reasonable price. GoAssignmentHelp has a team of highly experienced writers; they have already set a benchmark with their work all around the world. Our team consists of many Ph.D. assignment experts math homework help who will help you with expert personal statement help assistance in every way possible.

  9. Nice blog! I want to learn and later to use some of your approaches to the education at my work. I am a professional writer and always contact and work with customers who are mainly students by providing for them different types of college term papers and explaining to them information concerning stuyding process and so on and so force.

  10. Leolist Sarnia

    Are you looking for Leolist Sarnia? We have the best alternative of Leolist Sarnia
    here on https://sarnia.xgirl.ca/
    Visit Leolist Sarnia.xgirl.ca today and find the best results related to Leolist Sarnia


  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. """Are you looking for Leolist Kootenays? We have the best alternative of Leolist Kootenays here on https://kootenays.xgirl.ca/
    Visit kootenays.xgirl.ca/ today and find the best results related to Leolist Kootenays."""

  13. Are you finding for Leolist Medicine Hat We have the finest alternative of Leolist Medicine Hat here on https://medicine-hat.xgirl.ca/
    Visit : medicine-hat.xgirl.ca/today and find the best results correlated to Leolist Medicine Hat

  14. Are you finding for Leolist Red DeerHat We have the finest alternative of Leolist Red Deer Hat here on https://red-deer.xgirl.ca/
    Visit : red-deer.xgirl.ca/and find the best results correlated to Leolist Red Deer

  15. Are you finding for Leolist Abbotsford We have the finest alternative of Leolist Abbotsford here on https://abbotsford.xgirl.ca/
    Visit: abbotsford.xgirl.ca/ find the best results correlated to Leolist Abbotsford

  16. Are you finding for Leolist Red Deer We have the finest alternative of Leolist Red Deer Hat here on https://red-deer.xgirl.ca/
    Visit: red-deer.xgirl.ca/and find the best results correlated to

    Leolist Red Deer

  17. Are you finding for Leolist Medicine Hat We have the finest alternative of Leolist Medicine Hat here on https://medicine-hat.xgirl.ca/
    Visit: medicine-hat.xgirl.ca/today and find the best results correlated to Leolist Medicine Hat

  18. Over many years of investigation and observation, Doctor Maria Montessori established the Montessori principles. They are founded on an understanding of how children learn. The Montessori principles are as much about identifying how Montessori differs from traditional education as they are about understanding how children learn
    preschool in surrey
    toddler montessori in surrey
    Montessori Daycare surrey

  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

  20. Nice post thanks for sharing with us, check out our blog about our preschool franchise.

    Preschool in Ekbalpur
    Preschool in Mundhwa
    Preschool in Vapi

  21. Man's attitude towards nature acquires the same moral significance today as man's attitude towards man. Environmental safety is accompanied by our actions, which are happening before our eyes. New ideas are needed, for example, quality custom essay writing because their efforts and huge financial costs are motivated to maintain our current well-being. Man is created perfect by nature, so we must also make him perfect.

  22. Unfortunately, we do not have extraordinary abilities that would allow us to look into the future and answer all questions. Someone carefully studies the psychology and behavior of a person, someone trusts their feelings, and intuition, someone focuses on the experience of communication, and thus these abilities contribute to good relations between two interested parties. The team of authors works with understanding and a responsible attitude in essay rewriting service where the only correct algorithm of "mutual understanding" operates.

  23. Manifestations of self-care for their education is one of the effective methods of learning that forms the student's independence, responsibility, and seriousness in his life, even though the main influence buy custom essay It is this choice of opportunity to plan your schedule and allows you to combine training with work and gain a good reputation, experience, and connections.

  24. Our goal is to make our customers happy by showing how plagiarism checker works term papers, produced according to the instructions given, in the appointed time. Those who want to use our quality custom essay writing services can trust us and get unique plagiarism free content writing work at the most attractive terms as our strong base is kept on comprehensive research.

  25. Thank you for curating such an informative blog on the best assignment help in Australia. Your dedication to helping students excel academically shines through the well-crafted content. I'll definitely share this with my peers.

  26. Thank you for sharing this informative blog. Need assignment assistance? Look no further! We've got you covered with the finest Assignment Help service in your vicinity. Our team of skilled assignment writers ensures you receive impeccable, plagiarism-free content tailored for your assignment. Moreover, our experts are available around the clock to address any questions you may have about your assignment. Trust in our unwavering assistance at all times.

  27. If you're a student in Australia and struggling with math assignments, mathematics assignment help Australia is your path to success. They offer expert guidance and ensure that your assignments are not just completed, but also help you grasp the underlying concepts. It's a wise choice for academic excellence.

  28. Thank you for sharing this informative blog with us. Your blog is very useful for us. Are you a student in Australia feeling overwhelmed by your academic workload? So, Homework Help in Australia offers essential academic support to students across the country. With a focus on facilitating educational success, this service provides a lifeline for students grappling with their coursework. Whether you're tackling complex math problems, delving into literature analysis, or exploring the intricacies of science, Homework Help in Australia connects students with knowledgeable tutors who possess a deep understanding of the Australian education system. These tutors are equipped to guide students through their assignments, clarify concepts, and encourage critical thinking.

  29. University of Alicante and Spanish Language Courses: all you need to know in 2023! Planning to enhance your language skills and academic journey in Spain? The University of Alicante offers a diverse range of opportunities for international students. Whether you're looking to pursue a degree, immerse yourself in Spanish culture, or simply learn the language, this institution has it all. For detailed insights and guidance on these exciting prospects, check out happylife.es. Your path to academic and personal growth starts here!

  30. Global Assignment Expert is an online platform that connects with students to overcome their assignment-related challenges. Global Assignment Help is one of the most popular assignment help service platforms for various reasons such as Expert Assistance, Time Management, Customized Solutions, Plagiarism-Free Work, and 24/7 Support. After completing the work the assignment goes through a rigorous quality check process and we ensure it meets the academic standards.

  31. Acorn School embodies progressive education, emphasizing holistic child development. With a focus on experiential learning, creativity, and emotional intelligence, Acorn nurtures young minds. Its child-centered approach fosters curiosity, critical thinking, and a love for learning. The school's environment promotes inclusivity, individuality, and community, preparing students for a balanced and enriched future.

  32. Acorn School in Richmond Hill stands out as a unique educational institution that embraces a diverse range of early childhood education approaches. This school is dedicated to providing a holistic learning experience that aligns seamlessly with the Ontario curriculum and the Full-Day Early Learning-Kindergarten Program document.
    At Acorn School, educators recognize the importance of incorporating various educational philosophies and methodologies into their teaching practices. By drawing inspiration from globally recognized approaches such as Montessori, Reggio Emilia, and Waldorf, Acorn School ensures that students receive a well-rounded education that nurtures their strengths and interests.
    The Ontario curriculum serves as a solid foundation for academic development at Acorn School. It provides structure while allowing room for creativity and flexibility in lesson planning. By integrating the requirements outlined in the Full-Day Early Learning-Kindergarten Program document, Acorn School ensures that children are provided with an enriching environment where they can explore, discover, and develop essential skills during their early years of education.
    With a commitment to excellence in education, Acorn School strives to create an inclusive learning community where each child's unique talents are celebrated. Through engaging activities, hands-on experiences, and personalized attention from dedicated educators, students at Acorn School receive an education that prepares them for future success.
    Whether it's fostering critical thinking skills or promoting social-emotional development, Acorn School goes above and beyond to provide an exceptional learning environment for its students. With its alignment with the Ontario curriculum and incorporation of various early childhood education approaches, this school truly stands out as a beacon of educational excellence in Richmond Hill.
    For more information about global assignment help UK services at Acorn School or to schedule a visit to experience their innovative approach firsthand, please visit their website or contact their admissions office directly.

  33. Get online Case Study Help in Australia from qualified experts. If are you searching for Case Study for MBA, Law, Business, Marketing and many more from experts. Visit Casestudyhelp.net today. We have team of professional assignment writers.

  34. Thanks a lot for post you always share with us. Keep writing!

  35. Thank you for sharing this informative blog with us. Your blog is very useful for us.If you are looking for cdr writing help.Unlocking the pathway to a successful engineering career in Australia requires more than just technical skills; it demands a compelling Competency Demonstration Report (CDR). Our cdr writing services in Australia are tailored to assist engineers in crafting impactful narratives that showcase their competencies and experiences, aligning with the standards set by Engineers Australia. Our team of experienced and adept writers understands the intricacies of CDR preparation, ensuring that each document reflects the unique journey and expertise of the engineer.


  36. Thank you so much for this wonderful post and all the best for your future.

  37. I am satisfied with the arrangement of your post.

  38. Wish to see much more like this. Thanks for sharing your information.

  39. Your post is an excellent example of why I keep coming back to read your amazing and high quality content.


  40. Your website is really cool and this is a great inspiring article.

  41. If you have some questions in your mind like me, you must choose

  42. Did you create this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you?

  43. I am hoping to view the same high-grade blog posts from you later on as well.

  44. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. Feel free to visit my website;

  45. I have read it, but the information is still less than mine, i am wanting to learn more


  46. Extremely decent blog and articles. I am realy extremely glad to visit your blog. Presently I am discovered which I really need.

  47. I check your blog regular and attempt to take in something from your blog.


  48. this type of article that enlighted me all thoughout and thanks for this.

  49. One of the most difficult topics is cyber security, and students frequently run into difficulties when attempting to resolve or resolve their security-related issues. Selecting Cyber security assignment help in Canada guarantees students a thorough comprehension of this crucial field. Professional guidance helps students understand difficult subjects and stay up to date with business trends. It serves as a route to practical knowledge and more than just academic support, preparing the next generation for the rapidly changing cybersecurity landscape.

  50. I want to convey my sincere thanks for sharing such an outstanding article. Your dedication to providing valuable information is truly commendable and has not only assisted me but, I believe, numerous others as well. Your commitment to delivering informative content is highly valued, and I encourage you to continue upholding this exceptional standard. Your contributions carry a significant impact, and we are grateful for the knowledge and insights you consistently provide. Thank you once again for your thoughtful and enlightening posts! On the hunt for assignment aid? Your search terminates right here! We extend our management assignment help services within your reach, featuring a proficient squad of 2000+ assignment professionals. Rest assured, we're committed to shepherding you through your assignments. Queries? Contact us promptly.

  51. This post is very interesting and informative thanks for sharing with us. If you are a student and looking for a nursing assignment? Look no further! Our nursing assignment help involves specialized assistance provided to students pursuing nursing education. This support encompasses a range of services, including guidance on nursing theories, practical applications, case studies, and research projects. Expert tutors and professionals in the field offer valuable insights, helping students understand complex nursing concepts, develop critical thinking skills, and excel in their academic assignments.

  52. CompleteAssignmentHelp.com is a leading assignment help website that helps students with online Assignment Expert. Hire a professional assignment writer for a low price and get...

  53. Lwazi Academy is the premier private college, offering top quality accredited courses by QCTO and SASSETA. If you are driven, and building a successful career, then we are the right partner for you. Our professional and high impact courses are carefully designed to ensure you qualify and take a step up in life – fast.

  54. Amazing article! Your approach is impressive. If you need engineering assignment help, our professionals are here to guide you through every step of your assignments.

  55. This comment has been removed by the author.

  56. Hey I am Daisy Jones a dedicated academic writer Welcome to Welcome to Looking for reliable Tafe Assignment Help? Our service offers expert assistance tailored to meet the specific requirements of Technical and Further Education courses. Whether you're struggling with deadlines, needing help with complex subjects like engineering or business, or simply seeking guidance on assignment structure, we're here to support you. Trust our experienced professionals to deliver quality, plagiarism-free solutions that enhance your learning experience and academic success. Explore how we can assist you today! For More Information Contact Now : +61489921023

  57. This comment has been removed by the author.