Playful Encounters with the Reggio Emilia Approach Conference

The Strong News Release
One Manhattan Square Rochester, NY 14607 585-263-2700

February 9, 2016

For Immediate Release

Shane Rhinewald, 585-410-6365,

“Playful Encounters with the Reggio Emilia Approach” Conference
Featuring Early Childhood Educators Lella Gandini and Ben Mardell
at The Strong Museum, May 20–21, 2016

ROCHESTER, New York—Enjoy the rare opportunity to learn from leading educators Lella Gandini and Ben Mardell, and explore the world of the Reggio Emilia approach—a playful, innovative approach to  teaching and learning that emphasizes collaborative exploration and inquiry—during the “Playful Encounters with the Reggio Emilia Approach” conference taking place from May 20 to 21 at The Strong museum in Rochester, New York. (Register online at before February 29 to take advantage of the early bird rate of $265.)

The jam-packed, two-day conference features presentations by Lella Gandini, United States Liaison for the Dissemination of the Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education; Ben Mardell, Project Director of the Pedagogy of Play, Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education; and staff from The Strong’s Reggio Emilia-inspired Woodbury School. A special workshop on light and shadow led by Gandini, concurrent workshops on topics such as playful inquiry and the use of documentation in teaching; thought-provoking group discussions, meet-and-greets, and access to The Strong’s exhibit spaces, research library and archives, and Reggio Emilia-inspired Woodbury School classrooms and staff round out the program.

“This conference provides access to two of the leading early childhood educators in the country, and we’re honored to host them here in Rochester, New York,” says Debbie McCoy, assistant vice president for education at The Strong.  “The conference is uniquely set at The Strong, a one-of-a-kind institution dedicated to learning through play, which houses in its collection the personal papers and research of Lella Gandini and is home to the Reggio Emilia-inspired Woodbury School.”

How to Register: Registration includes a full day schedule on May 20 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and a half day schedule on May 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Early bird rate (before February 29): $265. Registration (after February 29): $295. Register online at For questions or more information, please call 585-263-2700.

About the Keynote Speakers: Lella Gandini, a consultant in early childhood education and Lesley University Visiting Scholar 2008 to 2009, is the United States Liaison for the Dissemination of the Reggio Emilia Approach. Lella serves as associate editor of Innovations in Early Education: the International Reggio Exchange. She is co-editor and co-author of The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education; Beautiful Stuff: Learning with Found Materials; Bambini: The Italian Approach to Infant/toddler Care; In the Spirit of the Studio: Learning from the Atelier of Reggio Emilia; and Insights and Inspirations from Reggio Emilia: Stories of Teachers and Children from North America (2008). She has published several books for children, as well as books about parenting and early education, and is a correspondent for the Italian magazine for teachers, Bambini.

Ben Mardell is the project director of the Pedagogy of Play, a collaboration with the LEGO Foundation and the International School of Billund, exploring how play can have a central part in children’s learning in school. Ben has been associated with the Harvard Graduate School of Education Project Zero since 1999, initially as a researcher on the Making Learning Visible (MLV) project and helped co-author Making Learning Visible: Children as Individual and Group Learners and Making Teaching Visible: Documentation of Individual and Group Learning as Professional Development. After continuing his work as a preschool and kindergarten teacher, Ben returned as a researcher on MLV and co-authored Visible Learners: Promoting Reggio-Inspired Approaches in All Schools. Ben is a professor at Lesley University’s Graduate School of Education and his publications include: From Basketball to the Beatles: In Search of Compelling Early Childhood Curriculum and Growing Up in Child Care: A Case For Quality Early Education.


About The Strong

The Strong is a highly interactive, collections-based museum devoted to the history and exploration of play. It is one of the largest history museums in the United States and one of the leading museums serving families. The Strong houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play and is home to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the National Toy Hall of Fame, the World Video Game Hall of Fame, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, the Woodbury School, and the American Journal of Play. Together, these enable a multifaceted array of research, exhibition, and other interpretive and educational activities that serve a diverse audience of adults, families, children, students, teachers, scholars, collectors, and others around the globe.