Bellwoods Playschool uses a child-centred, socially conscious pedagogy to engage young children in social and artistic thought and action. Using what the city has to offer, we empower our students with the knowledge to be socially and environmentally responsible citizens while they develop into explorers of their urban landscape.

A valuable aspect of the Bellwoods Playschool program is to empower children as navigators of their city. We journey on regular excursions, by foot and by public transportation, to art galleries, museums and cultural events, as well as markets, parks and city landmarks.


Our Playschool runs on a model that links a range of artists together to engage and inspire children. We like to bring in different perspectives and actively pursue a diverse teaching staff. As such, professional educators and artists trade chalkboards for personal anecdotes and textbooks for real life experiences. Together, they create an atmosphere that is at once intellectually stimulating and deeply personalized.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Finished Sculptures!

We sat under the cherry blossom trees in High Park today and finished our terra cotta animal sculptures with tempra paint. A lady bug, bunny and snake:

Some Recent Work

We started woodworking a few weeks ago. The children are really into it. They like having their own little work aprons with nails in their pockets. They also like practicing to use a hammer. We painted the wood, hammered the nails in and made designs with yarn. Here are the designs they made:

This group of children is into public transportation. With the art teacher, they finally finished their GO train (it has two sides and they stand inside of it, holding it up while they take turns 'driving'):

Lastly, some photos that one of the boys took today in High Park:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The AGO + Grange Park

A trip to the Art Gallery of Ontario doesn't have to be an all day event. When we saw Wangetchi Mutu's exhibit last week, we spent about an hour in the gallery (getting our tickets, bag check and water break included). Instead of playing in our usual playground, we planned to play behind the AGO in Grange Park. As we approached the playground, words of excitement flittered about us, "Whoa, this park is cool". "Ya this looks fun". They love a change of scene (who doesn't?) and especially love unfamiliar slides and climbers. There is a community centre there where one can take a bathroom break and wash hands for snack. Grange park also has a great little maze that the boys enjoyed figuring out.

Mutu Inspired Collages

We will be continuing our 2D vs. 3D work, making different collages and sculptures. Here are the collages the children made yesterday! In Mutu's exhibit, there is a section with strange animals that she created with a few cut outs, ink and sparkles. I pre-cut the parts out, and the boys had to choose each piece out of a hat. This avoided battling over who gets what animal body. I think they also enjoyed having to close their eyes to choose what they had to work with.

Wangetchi Mutu

Last Friday we went to the AGO to see Watngetchi Mutu's exhibit - - - AMAZING COLLAGES. She uses fashion magazines, national geographics and books about African art, paints and inks and found materials on mylar to express the disjointed nature of her cultural identity, referencing colonial history, fashion and contemporary African politics.

Her work is BEAUTIFUL. We looked at her art work up close, with each child pointing out images they can see (ie. motorcycle, wheels, animals, etc.) and then taking steps back to see how all those little pictures come together to make a giant picture. We also did the opposite with other pieces, first looking at them from afar, then looking at them up close to see all the little cut outs that we couldn't see. We necessarily reviewed the difference between 2D and 3D work, as when I asked them which of the two dimensions this work was, they said 3D! I made sure that we didn't go in to the darkened room, as the images there were graphic (I've seen them in a previous visit).

The boys enjoyed looking at the art and talking about it. We didn't delve deep into the politics of Mutu's work, but we did talk a little bit about how in many parts of the world, there are women who are not treated very nicely and spend more time than they want cleaning at home. They said to me, "You're not one of them, right?"

We sat and watched the film in the exhibit, showing Wangetchi explain her work and demonstrating how she creates her work. The boys liked watching her and said that 'she looks cool'. I think they liked the blue in her hair. I highly recommend this exhibit for everyone.

Friday, April 23, 2010

NFB May Animation Workshops

CAN'T SIT STILL (for ages 3 to 5)
Saturday, May 1 from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM

ANIMATE THIS! (for ages 6 to 13)
Saturday, May 1 or Sunday, May 2
12 PM to 2:30 PM

The first weekend in May, our animation workshops celebrate Victoria Day. Try your hand at drawing on film and make your own animated fireworks!
At 12 PM, participants in both workshops can enjoy Peep and the Big Wide World, a series of three ten-minute films for kids, narrated by Peter Ustinov. 

Admission: $5 per child per session

Information and registration: 416-973-3012

Registration is highly recommended. An adult, at no extra charge, must accompany children.

Attention animators: Check your e-mail! We will send you a link to download your video following the workshop!
As of May 1st, our collection of over 5,500 NFB films on our digital viewing stations will be available for FREE! Watch something new every day!

Follow the NFB Mediatheque on Facebook and Twitter!

NFB MEDIATHEQUE | 150 John St., Toronto | 416.973.3012 | NFB.ca/mediatheque

Natural Face Paint

A few weeks ago, inspired by Ethiopian culture, we decorated our faces with paint. I found a good recipe online that calls for natural ingredients. It worked well, stayed on for most of the day, didn't bother our skin and looked nice and bright! We only tried it with paprika but we will experiment with the other colours in the coming weeks. These were suggestions I found on the web but I'm sure one may experiment with other things (though should be careful not to use strong flavours like cayenne or mint).

- unscented lotion, pure cocoa butter OR fluoride free, non-minty toothpaste
- YELLOW: tumeric
- PINK: juice from mashed up fresh raspberries or beets (can also use already made juice)
- GREEN: avocado
- PURPLE: blueberry juice
- BROWN: cocoa powder
- WHITE: powdered sugar

We mixed the paprika in until we had a nice dark colour. Here is what our mixture looks like:

A Day in the Park

We spent our whole day outside, mostly in Trinity Bellwoods Park. We learned that Earth Day should be everyday, and not just on April 22! They highlighted all the things we could do to help keep our Earth clean and ended up picking up some trash ourselves and put them in the garbage (don't worry we washed our hands).

Through watering our seedlings (currently in the Trinity Bellwoods community greenhouse), we learned how to properly do so - - - either bottom watering or really close to the stem of the plant directly into the soil, avoiding the leaves. The children LOVE seeing their seeds grow and LOVE watering them.

We had some quiet alone time under a shady tree before having our music lesson where we started writing a song together. It is entitled Dancey Dance Floor. We will begin recording it next week.

Sculpture Garden

Amidst our Spring/Nature/Animal studies, we started learning about the difference between 2D and 3D art. Yesterday we went to the Toronto Sculpture Garden to see Dean Drever's Bear Hunt, but it was already taken down! Either way, we enjoyed having snack by the urban falls, listening to stories on the grass, playing different games in the space and starting our animal sculptures with terra cotta. Word of advice when working with terra cotta and kids - - - give them huge chunks! Its difficult to sculpt from a ball and the boys ended up making and attaching pieces together (which made the pieces more delicate and is a different technique altogether).

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Last week we got to see a special presentation put on by the Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts & Culture. They explained and demonstrated a traditional percussion instrument from the Southern part of the Philippines called the Kulintang. The kids got to try the instruments and dance around to the performance.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ireland Park

This is a great hidden park by the water. We learned a little bit about Irish immigrants in Canada, studied the statues, watched planes land and take off from the island airport, played 'code' tag, threw rocks into the water, played hide 'n' seek between the rocks and had a picnic. We ended our trip at a nearby playground that had amazing tunnel slides.

King Tut Exhibit & Tall Tales

It was a rainy day so we went to the AGO to see the King Tut exhibit - - - people 5 years old and younger are free! It was interesting to see all the ancient artifacts and statues. One of the children told us that he could read 'Egyptian' and translated all the hieroglyphics for us. On the cat's tomb: This cat was born from 15 mothers. It lived in the palace. One day a bird climbed on its back. Thinking it was wood, it pecked the cat and it bled. That is how the cat died.

Intimate Ukelele Lesson

Local bassist Chris Kettlewell, who currently plays with Maylee Todd, gave us a mini ukelele lesson. We learned about the parts of the ukelele, where your fingers go and practiced the 'C' chord.

Ukelele Lesson w/ Chris Kettlewell from Bellwoods Playschool on Vimeo.