The other day a fellow flâneur and I found ourselves in front of a storefront off of Main Street in Vancouver, on E17th. The place is shared by a little gift shop called The Pleasant and a charming ‘learning environment’ called Chorus and Clouds. Jessica Schellenberg runs Chorus and Clouds and gave my friend and me a tour of her lovely space. It was easy to imagine how much delight little children would feel here, and how safe. Jessica’s approach:

I’m an Early Childhood Educator motivated to provide meaningful experiences to the youngest members of our community, to connect with children on their level, to respond to their needs, and to respect their individual nature. I’m dedicated to bringing back what childhood is all about: exploration, guidance, growth and the celebration of small victories. My approach is deeply Reggio Emilia inspired, which stresses the recognition of every child’s strengths and potential and values free and creative expression. Children are encouraged to be active participants in their community. …

One tenet of the Reggio Emilia philosophy is that the environment is a child’s third teacher (after parent and teacher). That’s why great care was taken in the creation of this space to make it not only warm and inviting, but also…beautiful! Chorus & Clouds is an inspiring environment that will encourage you and your child to explore together. [From Jessica’s website – link added]


Jessica Schellenberg, of Chorus and Clouds

During our visit I couldn’t help staring at all the Crayola ‘pip-squeak’ markers on the little table in front of me, and I was whisked back to my own second grade, in St. Paul’s Catholic school in Wellesley, Massachusetts. (A particularly distressing series of episodes there involved crayons. I know: *crayons*!) “Look,” I said to my friend, almost gasping: “crayons.” “Do you want to leave?” she replied. “No, but thank you. I would like to imagine being seven years old *here*.”

So, we stayed awhile longer, having a happy discussion, while in my mind I went back and forth, again and again, from 57 to seven.

Being at Chorus and Clouds was a real tonic for me.

Jessica gave me a “leprechaun green” pip-squeak washable Crayola marker as my friend and I were leaving. I am very grateful.

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