“Clay in The Classroom” with Mollie McQuarrie

Tuesday, May 7th 4:00 – 5:30 PM

Clay has limitless possibilities for young children. It transforms easily, changing at the rate of a child’s thinking. It withstands children’s physical strength while responding easily to the most delicate touch. An easy to use, wonderfully open ended material, clay is a necessary staple for building children's physical knowledge.

In this workshop, educators will learn about best practices for using clay in the classroom. We will begin with hands-on exploration where we will learn some fundamentals of working with clay. Following "clay play," we will look at photo and video documentation of clay provocations and sequences in Preprimary classrooms at Blue School. Educators will come away with a hearty toolbox for using clay in any classroom environment. 

Mollie McQuarrie is a parent, visual artist, musician, and educator specializing in aesthetic education. Over the past 25 years, she has taken on many roles in education: classroom teacher, consultant, freelance gallery educator, adjunct professor, teaching artist, public school arts advocate, and arts integration specialist for public schools. In 2007, with a group of neighborhood parents, she co-founded Red Hook Playgroup, a Reggio inspired preschool later becoming its "Atelierista." Mollie holds an MFA from Queens College and an M.Ed from Bank Street College. Mollie believes that creativity, beauty and fun are non-negotiable components of every education experience for every age of learner. Aside from her teaching, Mollie cooks, makes collages, gardens, hosts sing-a-longs in her backyard, and plays the accordion and ukelele with Brooklyn-based Dirty Waltz Band.

Previous Workshops

"An Introduction to Working with Materials" with Wendy Gelsanliter

Wednesday, Sept. 26th  4:00 - 5:30PM

The Materials Center began with the belief that children need and deserve opportunities to express their ideas. Objects sourced from the local community are ripe with possibility, compliment children’s innate curiosity and their desire to explore. Join Wendy Gelsanliter, our Material Center's Educator, in this introductory workshop on ways to collect and introduce materials in the classroom. Through hands-on activities and visual examples of how children from city schools use materials, participants will walk away with both a practical know-how in starting materials collections in their own schools, and an understanding of why materials belong in early childhood contexts.

"INTRO to Emergent Curriculum & Documentation:
Structures, Strategies and Systems For Your Early Childhood Classroom" with Yeshnaya Dougherty

Session 1: Sept. 27th  |  Session 2: Oct. 25th  |  Session 3: Dec. 13th
Thursdays, 4:00 – 5:30PM

Emergent curriculum brings together the joys of childhood and learning by fostering the unique passions and interests of a group of children to create a memorable and developmentally appropriate study. Please join Teaching Beyond the Square’s educational coach, Yeshnaya Dougherty, for this special on-going workshop where she will help you develop a structure for your classroom that can empower and inspire you and your students to co-create curriculum that fosters creativity, collaboration and academic learning. The first session will be an introduction to classroom systems that promote reflective and inquiry-based learning throughout the school year. The second and third sessions will focus on how pedagogical practices such as observations of children in open-ended play and documentation of their work and ideas can support emergent curriculum. Participants will be encouraged to share documentation threads and will gain feedback and support from Yeshnaya and members of the group over the course of this series.

$150 fee for this workshop series, minimum 5 full-paying participants to run it.

"Literacy Workshop" with Jen Carvajal

Monday, February 4th 4:00 - 5:30PM

With increasing expectations for young children to gain academic literacy skills at an early age, how can teachers prepare their preschoolers for kindergarten while also honoring their progressive and play-based approaches to teaching? Jennifer Carvajal will share her strategies for infusing traditional academic skills into a Reggio-inspired classroom, sharing real examples from her own classroom and strategies she has developed in her work for Teaching Beyond the Square as a coach and consultant to schools in the NYC metro area. This workshop will include identifying the unexpected ways that children can develop literacy skills and fine-tuning story time and read-aloud methods. Participants will walk away with a "toolbox" of literacy strategies and a plan to incorporate them into their classrooms.

"ADVANCED Emergent Curriculum & Documentation" with Yeshnaya Dougherty

Unpacking the School Year - Taking a Closer Look at Threads in Action and the Cycle of Inquiry

Session 1: Nov 15th  |  Session 2: Jan 24th  |  Session 3: Mar. 7th
Thursdays, 4:00 – 5:30PM

This three part series is offered to teachers who are currently following an emergent practice with interest in expanding their process and finding inspiration. We will unpack your practice in finding the image of the child and discuss and share systems to strengthen your approach. This is a wonderful opportunity for teachers who are looking for guided support with likeminded educators. 

  • The first session will focus on the cycle of inquiry taking a close look at strategies and tools for planning and following a co constructed curriculum.  

  • The second session, will look at the role of teacher as researcher and how one uses tools of documentation to establish research questions that lead to curricular threads that speak to the children’s development and interest.  

  • The third session, will focus on how this unfolds and cycles as you approach the end of the school year with attention to reflection for children and families. 

“How Materials Support Mathematical Thinking in Children, ages 3-5” with Frances Stern

Thursday, March 14th 4:00 – 5:30 PM

Early childhood educators know that children's play is full of learning opportunities. In this workshop, Frances Stern will bring her extensive expertise in math education to the Materials Center, and give us a different perspective on the role of open-ended materials in children’s learning experiences. We'll learn which mathematical concepts are embedded in children’s play with open-ended materials, and which mathematical ideas are accessible and appropriate for the age group. She will share strategies of how we can support children’s mathematical knowledge and confidence through play and exploration with found materials. We will come away with a deeper understanding of which mathematical ideas are accessible to children ages 3 through 5 years and learn the language we can use to build the foundation for future mathematical understanding. We will discuss together how to implement and design classroom environments and activities to support this kind of learning and then shop for materials to bring back to our learning environments.


Frances Stern has a master’s degree in mathematics and has been teaching math and math pedagogy for more than 30 years. Her work has included teaching graduate students in NYU’s Elementary Education program, mentoring teachers of struggling middle schools (through a New Visions for Public Schools NSF grant), at Central Park East I elementary school and at Hunter Elementary School. She has presented workshops for pre-k teachers, parents and caregivers at branches of the New York Public Library system. Her books, Adding Math, Subtracting Tension: A Guide to Raising Children Who Can Do Math, volume 1: pre-k to grade 2 and volume 2: grades 3 to 5 are published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, for whom she has spoken at national and regional conferences. Through the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences’ Center for Mathematical Talent, she created a Math Club curriculum and teaches it to elementary school students in an East Harlem after-school program where they can play with topics not usually encountered in the classroom.