Good Wood

reInterpret has wood in many shapes and sizes -squares, rectangles, sticks, triangles and random polygons.

WP_20131028_005Children love working with wood. It feels real, solid, permanent, sturdy. It lends itself nicely to building and experimenting with different types of structures.

-What type of house can you build? Who lives there? Children will naturally create a story with characters and, often, themselves at the center. Would the children like to write or retell a story based on their building creation? Can they use their creation to illustrate the story?

-Can you build to the ceiling? (Provide a ladder). Be prepared for many failed attempts that provide opportunities to learn about structures and stability. Lead children in reflecting about what could be done differently to get an improved result. Is it only WP_20131028_004the foundation the affects stability? What type of planning should take place? Children will discover the many effective ways to create stability and go “higher”.

Wood can be used to create a two-dimensional plan of any space or environment.

-Can you use the shapes two-dimensionally to map your neighborhood? Where does your neighborhood intersect with your classmate’s neighborhood? Inspire children to collaborate with classmates. They will work out solutions to spacial challenges and get excited about “connecting” to their friends’ neighborhood map.

WP_20131028_003How else can wood be used in your classroom? Does it fit in with math or science? What about art? How can the pieces be used over and over in multiple ways?

What ideas do the children have for using wood? Can they describe their ideas using drawings or text? How will the planning influence the outcome of the project?

After projects, allow time for children to participate in picking up and organizing the wood in the classroom. By doing so, they will view the wood pieces as valuable and meaningful materials.

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We’re overflowing with new materials

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Have you visited reInterpret lately? We’re overflowing with beautiful, colorful materials ready to be turned into creative possibilities. Now that school is back in session, it’s a great time for teachers to visit our studio for useful materials to support art, … Continue reading

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Nature-Inspired Mandalas


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Inspiring Teachers Though Nature and Art

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This Saturday reInterpret was invited on a hike with the San Diego Association for the Education of Young Children (SDAEYC). Patti Shields from At Home In Nature Preschool led the group of teachers through a beautiful part of Tecolote Canyon … Continue reading

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Thank you SSP

The Santee Success Program (or SSP) in the Santee School District, created by Annelise Ryan, supports at-risk children at the middle school level. While getting each student WP_20130517_001“caught up” and ready academically for ninth grade, Annelise focuses on self-sufficiency and critical thinking, and uses reInterpret to support her curriculum. Annelise provides a rich art curriculum but prefers to use reInterpret resources for projects that bring to life physics and anatomy (for example). Earlier this year, students created marble roller coasters and, more recently, they planned to create a human skeleton using a snow board and several golf clubs.

SSP parents appreciate that they are not burdened with buying expensive materials for projects. SSP students benefit from the out-of-the-box thinking required to construct a project using non-traditional materials. Here’s what two students had to say about visiting the reInterpret studio (RR):



 Thank you Annelise and SSP students!

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reInterpret Visits Italy


Look what we found in a record store in Bologna. What a unique reuse of scratched vinyl!

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Great Day in Sherman Heights


This weekend reInterpret hosted an arts booth at the Sherman Heights Latin Music Festival. This vibrant community event was attended by many local neighbors eager for an afternoon of music, art and culture.

We welcomed the community into our booth for an open-ended arts experience with many engaging and colorful materials – encouraging kids and their families to create with us. It was amazing! People packed the booth for several hours until we ran out of materials.   It was beautiful to see parents working along side their kids.

Pencil Holder


Many people stayed for hours making sculptures, instruments and functional art pieces with everything from cardboard tubes, boxes, metal pieces, bottle caps, corks, fabric pieces and swatches, rubber bands, assorted plastics, string and wire.

It was truly impressive and it makes us realize how much people need art experiences in their lives. And it was especially meaningful to offer this opportunity to the low-income families in the area, and at no cost.

In the kid zone, where our booth was located, people were choosing to do art instead of play carnival games.

Candle Holder


At one point someone came by asking us to pass out free candy. One kid said, “let’s take the candy out and use the box to make something.” Yes! This is the ultimate goal of reInterpret – to encourage others to imagine the possibilities with the resources we have. We hope to host another art booth soon at a summer festival near you!

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James Hubbell Experience

I recently enjoyed an exclusive tour and luncheon at the home of James and Anne Hubbell. To call the Hubbell’s home unique is an understatement. The property and its structures are a reverence to heaven and nature’s seamless connection. James says, “It is the intertwining of the natural, physical, and spiritual that gives our human story meaning.” Thinking of the creativity, innovation and inspiration (not to mention perspiration) that went into creating this unique property is mind-blowing – truly a feat of courage and perseverance. The couple even dug one of the main buildings’ foundations by hand…not with shovels!

During my visit, I especially loved hearing Anne and James explain how they found the courage to create their beautiful home. Anne said that as a young girl she was inspired by a woman who built her own log cabin. James explained that he had already failed at so many things, he wasn’t afraid to fail at his art and architecture. He said he was never any “good” in school but eventually decided it was the teachers’ problem. What a revelation for a young man to have!

No one would argue that the contributions James Hubbell makes to art, poetry and architecture are anything less than extraordinary, so James’s comment made me wonder why such an obviously gifted and innovative architect and artist “failed” in school (or perceived that he did). I often hear or read that people (like Albert Einstein, Steven Spielberg, Thomas Edison, Lucille Ball, Isaac newton, Michael Jordan and Auguste Rodin) who are recognized for innovative accomplishments did not do “well” in school. And I wonder why. How can educators recognize creative thinking as achievement and success? How can learning environments be designed to “reward” all types of genius?

James Hubbell has “bridged together materials, countries, people and nature, the way water moves.”(1) How can we bridge together art, math, critical thinking and cultural inclusion to allow children to achieve personal and academic success?

Thank you Anne and James for sharing your home and your hearts!


(1) James Hubbell, A View From Above: Thoughts about San Diego and the Baja Region. March 2011.

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Door 38

What’s behind door 38?                                                             Hundreds of materials for use in your creative projects!

Recently the Santee School District offered reInterpret a space (Room 38 at the Annex on Magnolia and El Nopal in Santee) to sort, store and display our materials and projects. This wonderful gift has allowed us to provide materials to teachers free of charge! So please contact us when you need interesting and useful materials for your classroom activities. We will be happy to set an appointment for you to collect materials and ideas.

What can children do with all of these rich materials?          
Simply providing an area in the classroom with an organization of open-ended materials like ours provides a valuable opportunity to explore, create, invent, discover and…learn! As students plan, design, layout and build, they experience first hand the properties of the materials and how properties function (or misfunction) as part of the project. Planning and evaluations of the project will exercise language and critical thinking skills. Creating and building will reinforce math and science concepts. Working in groups will enhance social skills. Many points of a conventional curriculum can be reached with reInterpret materials.


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Hello creative thinkers!

Welcome to our new blogsite! Here you will find reflections on  current reInterpret projects. We hope that our documentation will help you discover new ways to use repurposed materials in your classroom. Please feel free to share your challenges and success stories here so we can build a supportive community of creative thinkers!

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