The Exhibition

Boy and girl interacting with light

The Wonder of Learning exhibit is a collection of documentation panels of children's explorations, grouped thematically. They include actual samples of work done by the children, teacher narratives, as well as video from the centers. One example in the exhibit documents the exploration of a group of five-year-old children who wanted to illuminate areas in their classroom and outdoors that were often in the shadows. The children worked for months to create a system of mirrors that could be angled and mounted in several boxes on wheels and that could be moved in the playground. The mirrors could be placed so as to bounce light from the sun from one mirror to another and into the shaded area. The documentation panels reflect the view of the child, educator, and family.

Some of the projects depicted in the exhibit took place over days, some over weeks, and some over years. The complexity of the work that is able to develop when children are offered a context where they have time to have ideas and theories, test them, revise them, and translate them into different "languages" has challenged our sense of the capability of children.

The Wonder of Learning exhibit at the University of Michigan provides an opportunity to share information with educators and the area community about the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy, which inspires the approach used in the University of Michigan-Dearborn Early Childhood Education Center, University of Michigan-Flint Children's Center and the University of Michigan North Campus Children's Center.

Sections of the Exhibit

The exhibition is divided into sections conceived as "micro-places" that are interconnected but independent, each having its own precise character. The sections may be viewed as individual works with a unique perspective and as a collective story incorporating many individual threads that together weave a cohesive creative narrative.


Boulder exhibit

Dialogues with Places

Girl playing with paper Child interacting with wheel

Dialogues with Material

Child with leaf Child Girls touching tree bark

The Enchantment of Writing

Children writing

Ray of Light

Boy and girl interacting with light Children and adults interacting with exhibit

Ideas and Projects

Children making art Boy and girl working on computer

The Reggio Emilia Approach

The Reggio Emilia educational philosophy began in Italy after World War II, when parents who were determined that their children would never again endure fascism built one school from the bricks of bombed-out buildings, and another using the proceeds from the sales of a tank. They sought to transform education based on the view of children as people with rights, as creators of culture, and as having questions and ideas worth pursuing. The Reggio Emilia approach sees children as competent, capable of complex thinking, and able to communicate in many "languages," including through the use of art media, movement, music, drama, digital technology, and more.

Interactive Ateliers (Studios) Offer Hands-On Experience for Children and Families

The Wonder of Learning Exhibit will feature two accompanying ateliers (studios), the Ray of Light Atelier and the Natural Materials Atelier. The ateliers offer an interactive experience that allows visitors to engage in a hands-on way with some of the concepts highlighted in the exhibit. The Ray of Light Atelier will offer children and adults opportunities to explore the many dimensions of light and shadow, utilizing such elements as projectors, mirrors, light tables, and much more. In the Natural Materials atelier, adults and children will be able to explore and manipulate a variety of elements from nature. The Natural Materials atelier will also highlight many of Michigan’s native flora and fauna.

Professional Development

A variety of professional development opportunities will be offered during the exhibition.


The Wonder of Learning—The Hundred Languages of Children exhibit at the University of Michigan is cosponsored by the University of Michigan Children's Centers and the University of Michigan Dearborn Early Childhood Education Center in partnership with the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design and the James and Anne Duderstadt Center.

The Wonder of Learning—The Hundred Languages of Children Planning Committee

Project Leads

  • Jennie McAlpine, Senior Director, Work-Life Programs, University of Michigan
  • Seong Hong, Rosalyn Saltz Collegiate Professor of Education and Faculty Director of Early Childhood Education Center, College of Education, Health, and Human Services, University of Michigan-Dearborn

Exhibit Hosts

  • Mahendra Kumar, Chief Administrative Officer, Stamps School of Art & Design
  • Kathi Reister, Gallery/Events Coordinator, James and Anne Duderstadt Center

Other Members

  • Julia Koumbassa, Director, North Campus Children's Center
  • Beth Ann Blanchard, Director, Towsley Children's House
  • Sue Gall, Director, Health System Children's Center
  • Lauren Stine, Studio Teacher, University of Michigan-Dearborn Early Childhood Education Center
  • Kelly Zechmeister-Smith, Studio Teacher, North Campus Children's Center
  • Judith Allen Kaminsky, North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA) Exhibit Project Coordinator and Editor, Innovations in Early Education: The International Reggio Emilia Exchange

The Wonder of Learning Advisory Committee

University of Michigan Representatives

  • Joslyn Marinelli, Director, University of Michigan-Flint Early Childhood Education Center/Michigan Inspirations
  • Nell Duke, Professor of Education, School of Education
  • Michael Latvis, Government Relations Manager, University of Michigan-Dearborn
  • Nora Weber, Development Officer, University of Michigan Museum of Natural History
  • Christina Weiland, Professor of Education, School of Education

Other Universities

  • Shannan McNair, Faculty Member, School of Education and Human Services, Oakland University
  • Karen Paciorek, Professor, College of Education, Eastern Michigan University
  • Margaret Patterson, Faculty Member, College of Education, Eastern Michigan University
  • Nora Thompson, Head Teacher, Child Development Laboratories School, Michigan State University

Community Programs

  • Ryan Brown, Director, The U School
  • Mel Drumm, Executive Director, Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
  • Scott Menzel, Superintendent/Alan Oman, Executive Director Early Education Services, WISD (representing Early On, Success by Six and Washtenaw Head Start)
  • Beth Manuel, Community Outreach Coordinator, Ann Arbor District Library
  • Annette Sobocinski, Executive Director, Child Care Network
  • Amy Nesbitt, Executive and Artistic Director, Ann Arbor Summer Festival
  • Erica Willard, Executive Director, The Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children
  • Petra Alsoofy, Educator, Arab American National Museum
  • Heidi Hotchkin, Community Volunteer
  • Felicity Williams, Community Volunteer

Thank You To Our Sponsors

Presenting Sponsors

  • University Human Resources
  • Office of the EVP/CFO, Business & Finance


  • James and Anne Duderstadt Center
  • Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design
  • North American Reggio Emilia Alliance

Supporting Sponsors

  • University of Michigan Bicentennial Committee
  • University of Michigan North Campus Research Complex
  • UM-Dearborn Early Childhood Education Center


  • Association for Constructivist Teaching
  • Beaumont Healthcare Center for Exceptional Families
  • UM-Dearborn College of Education, Health, and Human Services
  • UM-Dearborn Office of the Chancellor
  • Washtenaw Intermediate School District


  • Discovery Center
  • Eastern Michigan University
  • UM-Flint School of Education
  • UM-Flint Early Childhood Development Centers
  • Oakland University
  • Washtenaw County Association for the Education of Young Children
  • Washtenaw Early Childhood Directors Association

For more information about Reggio Emilia and The Wonder of Learning