One does not go from one point in time to another without some kind of "learning" taking place, whether we are aware of it or not. In a child's "journey of learning", there are moments that they are more aware or keenly intent on, "a spark", something in their environment that draws their interest to explore, observe, and proceed into that specific "journey of learning". Also there are moments that fade out. You can clearly observe these moments in babies. Their eyes connect then body language follows to tell us of their strong intent.

As educators, we observe many "sparks" that slowly or quickly fade away and others that seem to glow brighter and bigger. Then there are those moments when you are in the company of a group connection, a moment when you witness a number of children beginning to connect to the same "learning". Which ones do we fan and which ones do we let fade away? Like that little baby, we too, have figurative "eyes" that connect and based on our own personal "journey of learning" (factors such as our personality, experience, education), we can fan the spark with obvious interest or questions.

The project work process has three distinct stages:

  • Exploration: Because children are natural born investigators, it all begins with their explorations of that "spark" or what interests them. Each one is on a journey of understanding their world. Child-initiated exploration allows them to gain this understanding by finding their own answers to their own questions not ours. It is also a strong motivator for in-depth investigation of the topic of their choice as an individual or as more children become interested, as a group project.
  • Investigation: This is an opportunity to learn a wide range of skills while researching and applying learning from individual and group observations. Everyone's point of view is relevant, multiple perspectives are valued and everyone discusses everything. Children work together helping to support growth in their social emotional development. All learners benefit, whether they are passionate, hands-on learners or cautious observers who are given the space to join in their own time and way.
  • Sharing: Documentation is vital at this stage for sharing the project with each other and families. The long term process of projects and its sharing allows for new learning to build on what they knew before. Sharing their individual perspectives expands the learning of all in the group and helps each one to feel accomplished and valued. It is a time of reflection for educators. Where are the children in their learning (theory making) and how can they assist to deepen the learning?

Using documentation to capture moments of the children's "journeys of learning" has many positive results:

  • Our choice is subjective, autocratic but it will provide an opportunity for discussions where co-workers, children and parents can share their perspectives turning it into a democratic process.
  • When applied, this democratic process can add to children's life skills, broaden their understandings and make their "learning journey" visible to themselves and others (which could further inspire more or different learning).
  • Where we once might have thought, that children are "innocents", incapable of participating in such deep discussions, we will find the opposite. They are capable and they are interested in the opportunity to voice or share their understandings with others.
  • When we as Early Childhood Educators share our documentations with parents, we help educate families on the potential in their children, we reinforce the value they see in their own children, we further the value of our profession in supporting families.
  • Whatever forms of documentation are used, they create a foundation for discussion and collaboration between families and educators, setting up an environment of support and "co-construction" of knowledge (Dahlberg, Moss, Pence 1999)

Referred to as "pedagogical documentations" (Saskatchewan, Sweden, Reggio Emilia in Italy), "learning stories" (New Brunswick, New Zealand), "pedagogical narrations" (B.C.), is a process that makes children's learning visible. Documentations in a wide variety of media provide evidence of the intellectual capacities of young children that checklists and standardized tests can not provide. It also shows the importance and value of children's play in their learning.

As our documentations can be in many different forms (writings, illustrations, photographs, audio, video), so too children can share their perspectives of learning with others not only with words but also by their art (painting, drawing, sculpture, music, construction, dramatic play). We remind ourselves here as we share with you, that often it is the children themselves who choose their form of communication. We might be waiting for a clay sculpture and they will put on a puppet show or a synchronized dance for "mother earth". So we dare not hold our breath but be ready for anything and be flexible.

The projects that are being shared here on this website are not necessarily "finished" documentations. Like the "Real Indians" project, some take years to reach their point of final reflection while others like "Spuds In Tubs" took five months from beginning to end with the harvest. Projects like "Horse Sense" and "Canoe Day" took one day of exploration and we are yet to revisit. Some of the children have moved on to Kindergarten and others have just begun to attend the centers. We will see what comes, a spark that glows slowly to burn brightly or one that goes out.

The "Salmon Speaks" project began with an intensely passionate moment to help the salmon. From that initial moment to the present, the project has been continuing with the personality of the group. Sometimes with quiet concern, other times with a general appreciation of all life on this earth and the expectation that we all should care. Other times, that spark begins to glow with intensity again but in another form and so it continues. We must always remember that the children direct us and remind us that the process is more important than the finished product, the learning happens during the process and maybe while we are still struggling to make things "look nice", they have moved on.

On this website's projects, we have tried to share some complexity for inspiration, simplicity for a place of beginning and we hope enough information to support "learning moments".


Building a Fire

This documentation addresses issues of "risk" in childcare programming. It also shows how our image of the child and our perception of children's competencies are powerful factors in children's actions.


Dandelion Jelly

We share with you our appreciation of the dandelion plant. While many people view this tenacious plant as a weed,, we add "a tasty weed"! Join us on this delicious journey to a new appreciation.



This documentation shares a different way of looking at children's creative processes. It is a perspective that challenges the "finished product" view, the cognitive learnings, instead it directs you to the space of interaction in between child and material. Rather, objects emerge through intra-actions of matter. They are a pause in a journey, a momentary condition between child and material.


Real Indians

A journey towards social change. It addresses issues of learned and observed prejudice in children as young as three years old. What are these perceptions? Where do they come from? How can we approach these issues?


Slocan Valley

A project that explores the children's own community beginning with the mountains that surround them. It provides an opportunity for questioning, discussing and researching as a group. The strength of focus, and cooperative learning was a high point. This project will be revisited and we will see where it leads from there.


Spuds in Tubs

Initially it began as an experiment to see if potatoes can be grown in tubs, how long it would take and how the children would approach all the different aspects of a long-term project. It far surpassed anything we might have imagined. It represents learning in many different ways and curriculum areas.




Valhalla's Book of Horses

This was part of the 2010 summer projects the children requested. They wanted to "meet some horses", find out about them and ride one. The book was their opportunity to share what they wanted about horses with stories and pictures.


Canoe Day

This also was part of the 2010 summer project. The children wanted "to learn about a canoe". The project was to provide the opportunity for them to experience it: what it looks like, feels like, etc. They also learned canoe safety. Not surprisingly, the whole day was one of adventure, exploration and creating works of art with whatever they found. We invite you into our adventure.


Valhalla Trails

( A work in progress )


Little Creatures and Plant Life

We all can agree, children have a real attachment to little creatures. Depending on the child, this interest varies but so many "life" lessons can be learned along with these little creatures whether they are bugs, worms, pets or wildlife. We have seen behavioral issues disappear with the inclusion of our "raising chickens" project. We invite you to step into our world of "little creatures:


Creating with Nature

One of the children asked to "do art in nature". He wanted to find art materials for exploration and creating art. What we have noticed through this project work is that the whole group has now begun to be more versatile and creative in what or where they create their "art". We will share a few of these "art plays".

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