‘What if…?’ This essential question propels this open-ended exploration of the ways that young children and responsive materials interact in early childhood classrooms. The authors invite us to ponder with them, to notice, to question, in ways that move us beyond the conventions and constraints of traditional practices and provisions for young children. Sometimes startling, always provocative, this text rewards careful and considerate reading, as it reminds us how often we tend to structure even the most ‘unstructured’ aspects of early childhood curriculum, prohibiting truly productive encounters between children and the ‘stuff’ that offers unknown possibilities.’

–Christine Marmé Thompson, Professor of Art Education, Pennsylvania State University, USA

‘Through vivid vignettes and extensive theoretical grounding, readers are challenged to reconsider taken-for-granted assumptions about the role of materials in the early childhood classroom. This groundbreaking, deeply layered book will remain important to me as I revisit and reflect on its ideas, and I highly recommend it as a must-read for educators in the disciplines of both art education and early childhood education.’

–Pat Tarr, PhD, retired art and early childhood educator, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada

Book Review by: Paulina Semenec, The University of British Columbia, Canada

Materials are often valued for what can be done with/to them. In early childhood classrooms, educators
and children are accustomed to working with materials in ways that foreclose experimentation;
what a material can do and what can be done with it are already presumed beforehand. Paper is drawn
or painted on. Blocks are used for building and so on. In their book Encounters with Materials in
Early Childhood Education (2017), Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw, Sylvia Kind and Laurie L.M.
Kocher work against such static conceptualizations of materials. As they write in the opening pages
of their book, they treat materials ‘as active and participatory’ (p. 2), and in turn, they are interested
in exploring the encounters that certain materials make possible in the context of an early childhood
daycare centre. Informed by the pedagogical thinking of Reggio Emilia, artists and scholars such as
Lenz Taguchi (2010) and Deleuze and Guattari (1987), this book asks what thinking with materials
might produce (p. 5). In this way, their book resists interpretive logic and instead, moves towards
experimentation.  Please click here to read the full review