1. Monsters Transform a Place

Pedagogical Documentation

Early Childhood Centre Context Educators: Debbie, Emma, Erica, Kim PracticumStudent: Jackie Children: Ana, Atasha, Bodhi, Braelynn, Calum, Celine, Hartley, Kylie, Jason, Jesse, Layla, Lily, Landon, Mary, Mathew, Sawyer, Scarlett ECPNPedagogist: Chelsea Hann

In our work together, we are committed to thinkingwith place in northern British Columbia. Recognizing that we live amid complex and unique conditions (deforestation, mining) withmany co-inhabitants and evershifting relations, as educators we commit to taking seriously children’s relations with place. We attend to these relations and wonder what might be possible when children consider the richness of the place inwhich they live. Pedagogical Context

The District of Houston is situated on the unceded lands of the Wet’suwet'en peoples in the northwestern interior of British Columbia. Nestled in the Bulkley-Nechako Valley along Highway 16, the town of Houston is surrounded by black cottonwood bottomlands. Houston grew from the colonization of northern BC after the overland telegraph line came through the northern interior in the late 1800s. Agriculture, forestry and mining continue to be the main industries sustaining the human families who live in this community. A key provincial natural gas project is located here, making this land the site of ongoing land dispute and police presence. Alongside human lives, the mountains, forests and waters contain multitudes of other lives. Bears, deer, grouse, ravens, eagles, mushrooms, berries, and many others also live in this place. These lives entangle throughout the story of monsters in this pedagogical narration. AComplex Place

Chelsea visits the centre regularly in person when weather allows for travel. She visits the classroom on Zoom when unable to come in person. This story of our ongoing inquiry about the place we live in emerged through drawing.

Through drawing, we invite children to think about who lives amongst us. We gather in long drawing sessions.

“That’s Michael’s head, I know it!” “You always draw rainbows, Mary!” Drawing provides opportunities for communicating ideas, sharing stories and sketching our ongoing relations.

The drawings are integral to the classroom’s vibrancy. Every space is filled with drawings. Walls. Windows. Doors. Bins. Tables. Shelves. Drawings even hang from sticks! A box holds emerging drawings.

As drawing becomes a ritual, multiple characters emerge.

Strange creatures join. Cats hold giant lollipops. Spiky traps lurk. Balloons become monsters. Chocolate chips are teeth, spilling everywhere. A purple-orange cat meeeoooooaaawwws.

Unicorns, monsters, people, cats, flaming potatoes, and a dead horse materialize. Scarlett: “The blood pops right out into a pile.” Braelynn: “This is a girl slurping noodles.”

We project drawings onto the drawingfilled wall, amplifying the many characters and inviting connections.

Stories mingle as drawing transforms into a collective endeavour.

As we draw on the floor, large landscapes appear.

The children’s bodies are embedded within the drawings.

Some of the characters become crucial protagonists as they come to life through the children’s storytelling.


Not everyone agrees what a mermaid should look like. Mary: “No, that’s not what mermaids look like up top.”

“This is the ocean, this is the deepest ocean, and this rainbow is the river. The mermaids are in the ocean.” Ana “Could the mermaids ever swim upriver? Could they swim to our river?” Chelsea

“There is a mermaid in the attic of my old house, but I can’t get to her because there is no door and no ladder. My dad will build a ladder and a door so that I can get her.” “My mermaid in my attic is just a stuffy. It only needs its bottom half to go in water. But the evil mermaid is in the ocean still.” Scarlett

The Girl with Long GreenHair

Braelynn’s girl is another protagonist. Debbie: "Why are her teeth brown?" Braelynn: "Because she has cavities and no mom or dad." Chelsea: “Who loves the girl with green hair?" Braelynn: "You love her." Braelynn: “The girl with green hair is going to find her mom and dad. They are underground. She will find them because their hands are sticking out of the ground. When she finds them, her golden, magic tears will bring them back to life.”

Unicorns Unicorns are also of special interest in drawing stories


“I like drawing cat unicorns.” Mary

"This is a cat unicorn." Mary "This is a boy unicorn under a heart rainbow." Mary .

Rainbows Rainbows enter into drawings, alone or partnering with strange and familiar creatures.

"This is the rainbow I drew. It connects." Ana

“This is a rainbow quilt.” “I’m using every colour for this rainbow. Even black.” Celine

Rainbows become alive in threedimensional form.

“The fence on my house has rainbow Christmas lights. They are sometimes one colour, sometimes rainbow.” Celine Rainbows swirl on black paper.