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11359 W Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA, 90066

Branches Atelier is committed to creating high-quality, creative, dynamic, educational programs for children, families and educators. We are a social constructivist program, inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education.

Based on our fundamental belief that children learn best when their work is meaningful and in a social context, we integrate all areas of curriculum though short-term explorations and long-term project . Children are viewed as protagonists in their learning and are encouraged to work in collaboration with their peers to co-construct new theories and ideas.


Parent / Teacher Education


Educators from around the world look at Branches Atelier as a model of the highest level of early childhood education available. They travel from all corners of the globe to attend the lectures and workshops by Patricia Hunter McGrath in which she shares her 20 years of experience working in Reggio inspired environments.

The workshops are designed to support the learning of all educators, from novices to master teachers. Topics include “Intro to Reggio”, material explorations, environment as a third teacher,  documentation, and community interactions.

Patricia Hunter McGrath consults locally, nationally and internationally with other schools and educators.  The teachers give workshops, mentor other teachers and consult with other schools.

Evening meetings offer parents an opportunity to explore a wide range of topics from parenting issues to current research on human development.

Have you been to our sister site

We post all of our workshops there first. You can register your email at and you will be notified whenever a new series of workshops is posted.



Branches Atelier 2018/2019 Workshop Series: 

5 All New Hands On Immersive, Interactive Workshops

For Educators and Parents.


1)  The Atelier of Taste: Mindfulness From Source to Table 

 Saturday, November 17, 2018 9am to 3pm Cost:$100 

Presented by Branches Teacher Becky Zlotoff

We will meet at the entrance to the market at Virginia Ave Park, and then we will continue our workshop back at Branches. This workshop will include the cost of lunch that we will create together plus a cutting board, knife, bowl and cruet. When we return to Branches participants will learn: 

  • What is the language of food?

  • What are slow foods?

  • What are the techniques and tools of tasting?

  • How does the exploration of food extend and deepen children’s poetic language?

  • How is food integrated in other areas of curriculum?

  • How are different flavor combinations introduced to the children?

  • How are herbs and spices introduced to the children?

  • What is the current research on children and healthy eating?

  • How does our local community support the children’s connection to food?

2)  Viewing The World Through Their Lens: A Journey Through Photography and Transformation 

Saturday December 1, 2018 9am to 3pm Cost: $75

Presented by Christina Bianchi and Patricia Hunter McGrath

In this workshop we will discuss some of the ways we work with children to manipulate images, negotiate perspectives and illuminate challenges. What was once primarily considered a tool for teacher, documentation in our classrooms has become an essential instrument for communication, storytelling and creation in our classrooms. In this workshop we will address the ways we have opted to integrate this ubiquitous form of technology as way to deepen our reflective practice with children, and explore:  

  • How to take great pictures?  

  • How do pictures help to tell a story? 

  • What is the language of photography and how does this language support children’s imagination?

  • How is photography used to represent children’s ideas and uncover children’s theories?

  • How is photography introduced to the children?

  • How does photography alter our understandings of the world?

  • How does the photography expand and deepen the curriculum?

3) Harnessing The Light: Using light to Uncover Children’s Ideas And Extend Their Theories. 

Thursday, January 31, 2019 6:00 pm – 9:00 pmCost: $50

Presented by Patricia Hunter McGrath and Christina Bianchi

Spend the night exploring light, shadow and transparency with two experienced atelieristas as we explore how light tables, overhead projectors and immersive digital environments have been used to support, uncover and develop children’s' interests and ideas.  Through hands on experiences, provocative questions and co-constructive interactions we will unpack how to move with fluidity between children's theories, representations and investigations

  • What is the role of the adult in facilitating the choice of materials to be used with the light table?

  • How do we follow children’s ideas through a wide range of light-driven experiences?

  • What questions do we ask ourselves to support the children’s processes?

  • How are materials an essential ingredient for collaboration and shared meaning making?

  • How can the light table become a catalyst for children’s learning?

  • How is light used to create focused classroom environments?

  • Why is the light an indispensable tool for the classroom

4)  Exploring the Possibilities of Watercolor

March 20, 2019 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm Cost: $60

This workshop includes materials for the creation of a resource book for your continued reference

 Presented by Patricia Hunter McGrath 

 Join us as we do an in depth, hands on investigation of this limitless material. Despite its presence in many classrooms, watercolor is a surprising medium to work with. Slight variations in paper, pigment saturation and setting can lead to dramatic and unexpected results. When considering which materials to introduce, the fluidity of this paint and the unpredictable nature of the relationship between gesture and line make it ideal for supporting a class of individuals in becoming a collaborative group. The creation of our initial color palettes helps to draw children’s attention to the changes in our environment and foster our connection to the natural world as well as our community. Together we will explore: 

  • How are watercolor provocations used to support and uncover children’s thinking?

  • How do we follow children’s ideas to evolve in work with watercolors over time?

  • What questions do we ask during observations with watercolor to support children’s processes?

  • How are these materials an essential ingredient for collaboration and shared meaning making?

  • How can this paint become the foundation for contemporary academic learning?

 5)  Integrating Characters into our Classroom: A long term investigation of storytelling in the classroom 

Saturday, May 11th, 2019 9am to 3pm Cost: $75

Presented by Berenice Vallejo 

 Part of the fascination with the bad guy/good guy game, is that the children are exploring the concept of power; who has it, and how it gets used. In our current charged culture, teachers and parents grapple with the ideas of power as expressed in children’s play. In this workshop we explore one classes’ avenues of inquiry in this important exploration of power in our classroom and our society as we continue to support children’s understanding of the importance of being a part of the community. Together we will consider: 

  • How can close examination of “bad guys” and their power dynamics lead to a deeper understanding of children’s behavior?

  • How can investigations of character travel through a wide range of two dimensional and 3-d materials?

  • How can we support storytelling through new technological tools? 

  • How does storytelling become a tool for collaboration?

  • How can storytelling in classrooms be used to change the dominant narratives in our culture?

 About the presenters

Patricia Hunter McGrath is the Executive Director/Atelierista of  Branches Atelierin Culver City, California. Over the past 20 years she has developed an innovated early childhood program inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach. From 2005 to 2007 Patricia developed the role of the Atelierista at Bold Park Community School in Perth, Australia. From 1998 to 2005 she was the Atelierista at Evergreen Community School where she developed a unique approach to children's symbolic languages. Using clay, wire, paint, dance, etc. children enter into relationship with the materials and express, clarify and modify their ideas and theories. She also taught at the Growing Place in Santa Monica for 7 years. Patricia is an artist and has over 28 years of experience in Early Childhood Education.  Patricia has taught the Reggio Emilia Class at Santa Monica College and at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia.  Patricia graduated with a Masters degree in Human development from Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena, California. She also speaks at conferences throughout the United States and abroad and has visited Reggio Emilia, Italy six times.  She is also a contributing author of the book In the Spirit of the Atelierpublished by Davis Press and Insights and Inspiration from Reggio Emiliaalsopublished by Davis Press.


Christina Bianchi is the atelierista, naturalist and classroom teacher at Branches Atelier. Prior to becoming an educator at Branches Atelier, Christina worked as the Program Director for The Children’s Nature Institute bringing her passions for teaching, children and promoting environmental literacy to the agency. In addition to overseeing both the design and implementation of all new education programs and curricula; Christina also worked with Development staff on grants related to program development, managed a staff of Environmental Educators and coordinated and implemented volunteer training.


Becky Zlotoffcreated and has taught a preschool program at Santa Monica Synagogue for over twenty-five years. She has been a California Mentor for nine years, working in the classroom with college students, supporting the practical application of good early childhood practices. For twelve years, she was a teacher at First Presbyterian Nursery School. In addition to attending many workshops about the Reggio Approach in the United States, she has been on two learning tours to Reggio Emilia, Italy. Becky has presented her work at many local workshops and at NAEYC. With Mary Hartzell and Ami Cohen, she co-authored the chapter “Parents As Partners” in Next Steps Toward Teaching The Reggio Way.

Berenice Vallejoearned her BA Degree in Early Childhood Education from Cal State Los Angeles University. During her college years, she discovered her passion for working with children. Her teaching experiences started as a volunteer in Head Start program in East Los Angeles Occupational Center. Later she became an assistant teacher at the Vine Street and Commonwealth Elementary Schools in the LA Unified School District and then a teacher in private preschools in Downtown LA. including the Infant and Toddler Program at Hope Street Friends. While taking Reggio-inspired courses at Santa Monica College, she was a substitute teacher at Branches Atelier for a year before joining the community as a full time teacher. Berenice believes that the early years’ experiences are the core foundation to a child’s future and that together parents and educators help children build strong foundations for life. 


Click here for registration form

Have you been to our sister site

We post all of our workshops there first. You can register your email at and you will be notified whenever a new series of workshops is posted.

Special Event



02/09/2019 9am-3pm

 Hosted by the West Coast Collaborative


Where: Wildwood Elementary School

12201 Washington Place,

Los Angeles, CA  90066

When: February, 9th, 2019 

9AM - 3PM

Cost: General admission: $65

Student Discount: $35 With ECE ID

Please email with a copy of your current student ID to apply for a student discount. Once approved you will be able to purchase a discounted ticket


Bring Your own Lunch

As adults, we all choose how we listen and respond to children but what do we base our decisions on? How closely are we connected to the minds and hearts of the children near us?Join us as Tiziana Filippini explores the powerful role that adults play in children's learning.

Tiziana Filippini is a pedagogista who collaborates with Reggio Children with regard to research, conferences, and consultancies in Italy and abroad. 

From 1978 to 2015, she worked as a member of the Pedagogical Coordinating Team of the Istituzione - Preschools and Infant Toddler Centers of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia.

Tiziana was referent for the acclaimed exhibit, “The Hundred Languages of Children” and is currently one of the curators of the new version, "The Wonder of Learning: The Hundred Languages of Children.”

In addition to her work with the municipality of Reggio Emilia, Tiziana was part of the original research group of Making Learning Visible, a collaboration between Reggio Children and Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The collaboration resulted in a book, Making Learning Visible: Children as Individual and Group Learners, which became very well known in North American early childhood circles and all over the world.