“In summary, children learn best when they
can play, explore the world and interact with
adults and peers”
                  — Best Start Expert Panel on Early Learning, 2007

Over the past years I have worked with infants, toddlers, preschoolers, school aged children and teenagers. Each experience has renewed the sense of enjoyment that comes from spending time with them.

My Philosophy for teaching is based on the Reggio Emilia approach which views children as unique, naturally curious and creative individuals, capable of building their own knowledge. It is a child-centred, play based approach that encourages social interaction, co-operation and problem solving. The teacher acts as collaborator, guiding rather than leading. The environment is comfortable, open and welcoming. It is rich in ideas, activities, materials and tools that allow children to make discoveries through play and exploration. An environment that reflects unique personalities, cultural diversity, varied developmental needs and the teacher's creative abilities, is one that will foster healthy emotional development while setting a strong foundation for the later years (within the framework of an emergent curriculum).

SCHOOL VISITS  (at a glance).

WHAT IS IT?: A 1-1.5hr interactive hands-on mosaic workshop (with a Mosaic Artist) designed, for JK/SK - grade 12 students,
introduce them to the Art of Mosaics.

For young children
(JK-grades2/3) -
 begins with a reading of my picture book, Six Owls and A Party, made with mosaicked illustrations, followed by a short discussion about being an author and an illustrator; where I work, how I work, the tools I use and how I use them. They are able to touch (and feel) original mosaic pieces and the tools used. As well, they learn some new mosaic related words (nippers, tesserae, andamento). The workshop ends with the students making their own mosaic creations. The layout is supplied along with construction paper, scissors and glue. The students are encouraged to be mosaic artists - "there are no rules, you are the artist"One of the many learning outcomes behind this activity is to gain a better understanding of the amount of work (a lot!) that goes into creating a mosaic, from cutting the many pieces to putting them in place (one piece at a time). 
For older children (grades 4-6) - begins with a discussion about my book, Six Owls and A Party, and what is involved with self-publishing
, where I work, how I work, the tools I use and how I use them. The students are able to touch (and feel) original mosaic pieces and the tools used. As well, they learn some mosaic related terms. The workshop ends with the students making their own mosaic creation (with a layout supplied) using tiles and glass rather then paper. 

For teenagers (grades 7-12) - begins with a discussion about my work; where I work, how I work, the tools I use, how I use them and self-publishing. The workshop ends with the students making their own mosaic creation from beginning to end. They select the layout and/or subject matter as well as the materials used (beads, tiles, china pieces, stones, rhinestones...). 


For more information (booking visits and pricing) please contact me.

school mosaic workshop
school mosaic workshop
school mosaic workshop


Children's House Montessori School (Port Perry), Dr. S. J. Phillips PS (Oshawa), Sawmill Valley PS (Mississauga), Ormiston PS (Whitby), John McCrae PS (Guelph), Saint Mary Elementary School (Brampton), Cardinal Newman Catholic Elementary School (Brampton), Armour Heights Public School (Peterborough), Queen Victoria Public School (Lindsay), Saint Bernadette Elementary School (Mississauga), Fernforest Public School (Brampton), Terry Fox Public School (Brampton), Humbervale Montessori School (Etobicoke), McLaughlin Public Library (Oshawa), Trafalgar Castle School (Whitby), Ryerson Public School (Cambridge),  Transfiguration of Our Lord Catholic School (Toronto), Devins Drive Public School (Aurora), Our Lady of Victory School (Toronto), St. Pius X (Toronto), Hewson Public School (Brampton), Selwyn Public School (Toronto), Fernforst Public School (Brampton)



“Thank you so much for coming to our school today. Your artwork is stunning. What a wonderful opportunity for our students to learn about mosaic art and the process of designing and publishing your beautiful book. We hope you will visit us again —  Staff and Students (Selwyn PS, Toronto).


Mosaic Owls from Selwyn PS (Toronto) Grade 5 class

“Our grade 1s and grade 2s were fortunate to have artist/author Karen Johnston visit over a two day span. She captured their attention with a reading of her book, Six Owls and a Party, and engaged them with her mosaic pieces. They loved seeing how she made the pages in the book - the tools, the glass pieces, the buttons and jewels, and the process from beginning to end. Karen then encouraged the students to give mosaics a try using coloured paper. Each student attempted this challenge differently and the results were so unique. When we returned to the classroom, all the students were motivated to continue their art.  They wanted to quickly complete their other work in order to get back to their owls. Thank you, Karen, for introducing a new form of art to our students that showcases creativity.” 
— Joyce Tam (Grade 2 teacher, Sawmill Valley PS, Mississauga)

“Karen Johnston inspired our kindergarten and grade 1 classes with her Magic of Mosaics presentation. Students enjoyed listening to Six Owls and A Party while gazing first hand at the mosaics used in her book. Students loved the experience of looking at Karen’s artwork, the highlight however was learning about mosaics through touch. The ability for students to touch Karen's designs and feel the various textures created by the many types of tesserae used in her creations provided students with a truly unique and memorable experience. Thank you Karen for making the long drive and sharing your talents with us; we had a wonderful time!”
—  Patty Horack (teacher, John McCrae PS, Guelph) 

“My small upper elementary class were delighted to meet a "real artist and author". Karen used her children's book, Six Owls and A Party, to invitethe children into the world of mosaics. My students really enjoyed seeing some of Karen's mosaic pieces firsthand. It inspired the children to work on a collaborative piece using mosaics. Karen lead the work with patience and clarity. Afterwards many of my students remarked that they would like to author children's books someday. I would highly recommend Karen Johnston's "Magic of Mosaics" workshop for your class.”—  Erika Lacey (teacher at Children's House Montessori School, Port Perry)

“I was thrilled to have Karen Johnston join my busy Kindergarten class. Karen read her children's book Six Owls and a Party as a read aloud andinspiration for the children to make their own mosaic art. The students were engaged and worked to develop new skills as artists that Karen had demonstrated to them. Karen was organized and lead the students through every step as they completed their mosaics. The students can't wait to get their own copy of "Artist Karen's" book.”—  Cheryl Corby (FDK Teacher at Dr. S. J. Phillips PS, Oshawa)

Questions and Comments  Children, (from Kindergarten to grade 5) unfiltered, from my Magic of Mosaics Workshop:)

"Ms. Johnston's mosaic art is magical" 

"WOW!!!, did you make that?"

"You're a really, really, really, really good artist"
"Author, can you help me?"

"I love you"
"BYE Carol!"
 "What colour is your car?"

Embracing The 3rd Teacher

The environment, recognized as the third teacher, is the foundation of any early learning curriculum. It should be engaging,
inviting and cultivate a child's curiosity, wonder and imagination while reflecting an educator's creative c

Working in China
  • Field Placement at Saintach Kids in Shijiazhuang (July-Aug., 2018), China (266km south of Beijing)

  • Communicated nonverbally with students as little English was spoken

  • Planned and implemented age appropriate activities with ESL considerations

  • Worked effectively as part of the teaching team with children aged 4-5


Saintach Kids' philosophy for teaching is based on the Montessori approach and is heavily teacher directed, whereas, my
philosophy for teaching is based on the Reggio Emilia approach with less teacher direction. Taking this into 
consideration, when implementing planned activities, I decided to combine the two teaching styles. Most of my activities began with a structured 
son (something the children were used to), follo
wed by a related, interactive (fun) activity and/or a hands-on creative activity. Listed below are some of the planned activities (at a glance) that I implemented.

ACTIVITY 1 ~ The Spider Swat Game! Singing The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Identifying letters, alphabetical seriation

RATIONAL ~ Most of the the children were able to sing the ABC song but few could identify the letters of the alphabet

LEARNING OUTCOME ~ Identifying letters of the alphabet, learning to take turns, co-operating with others, reading                                                         readiness, learning can be fun

ACTIVITY 2 ~ All about Mosaics! Reading Six Owls and A Partyidentifying colours, creating their own mosaic owl

RATIONAL ~ Building on previous knowledge and learning new English words, getting creative (with some teacher direction)

LEARNING OUTCOME ~ Enjoying literacy, identifying colours, learning to take turns, co-operating with others, connecting                                                 artwork (mosaic) to their recent experiences (reading Six Owls and A Party)

ACTIVITY 3 ~ Let's go shopping! Learning English words for fruits (peach, pear, banana, etc), enjoying dramatic play

RATIONAL ~ Building on previous knowledge and learning new English words, experiencing dramatic play

LEARNING OUTCOME ~ Identifying new words, working together as a team, co-operating with others, having fun learning

ACTIVITY 4 ~ All about Family! Learning English words for family, making connections to self, making an 'I love...' wheel

RATIONAL ~ Using Pandas born at the Toronto Zoo to make connections (Family, China-Canada, me-them), getting creative

LEARNING OUTCOME ~ Making connections to self and outside world (story of the twin Pandas born at The Toronto Zoo),                                                  identifying new words, connecting artwork to their recent learning experience

ACTIVITY 5 ~ Let's get dressed! Learning English words for clothes (shirt, pants, shoes, etc), dressing their own paper dolls

RATIONAL ~ Building on previous knowledge and learning new English words while being silly (they laughed a lot:)

LEARNING OUTCOME ~ Learning new words, being patient and taking turns, co-operating with others, making a                                                               connection with artwork to their recent learning experience, being silly and looking like a teacher!

ACTIVITY 6 ~ Let's print your names! Name in a bag with erasable markers

RATIONAL ~ Using their Western names, the children can practice writing as well as identifying letters of the alphabet

LEARNING OUTCOME ~ Working on fine motor skills, improving eye-hand coordination, identifying letters

ACTIVITY 7 ~ Doctors know body Parts! Learning and singing 'head and shoulders...', enjoying dramatic play

RATIONAL ~ Building on previous knowledge and learning new English words, experiencing dramatic play (laughing more)

LEARNING OUTCOME ~ Learning new words through song, co-operating with others, having fun learning

ACTIVITY 8 ~ The Alphabet Puzzle! A mat activity, worked on by an individual or in a small group

RATIONAL ~ Adding to their mat activities, working on seriation skills, identifying letters of the alphabet, puzzles are fun

LEARNING OUTCOME ~ Improving on fine motor skills, identifying letters, reading readiness, puzzles offer so many LOs

ACTIVITY 9 ~ Let's Monkey Around! Learning and singing 'Five little Monkeys jumping on a bed...', making paper bag monkeys

RATIONAL ~ Building on previous knowledge and learning new English words while being silly

LEARNING OUTCOME ~ Learning new words through song, working with others, sharing, making a connection with artwork to                                         their recent learning experience, enjoying dramatic play, being silly