Sunday, August 19

Performing Arts camp

For the past few summers I've helped run a 3-week camp in Northern Liberties. We fill in that gap between when all the other city camps end and school begins with a week of performing arts, a week of visual arts, and a week of field trips around the city. This past week was for performing arts, so we invited a local musician and a local African Dance teacher to work with the kids in music and dance. I ran an elective in giant puppet-making. The best part is that the 7-11 year olds get to CHOOSE what activity they do, which seriously cuts down on behavior issues since kids are doing what they WANT to do. I love it!

our 5-yearolds in their neighborhood jobs uniforms

knotting fabric strips for a puppet dress

 I worked with 2 groups of kids in the mornings to invent a "Giant of Northern Liberties" inspired by the city giants of Northern France and Belgium. (City giant sculptures on Hotels de Ville in Northern France really impressed me as a 16-year-old exchange student). First the kids brainstormed what characteristics our giant should have, ad they each sketched a giant idea in crayon. Then we collaborated on the design by havig each child offer something from their own sketch that they REALLY thought should be on the giant. From their list of features I sketched out a composite, and asked them which part they wanted to work on together in teams. Of course, everybody wanted to work on their own idea, which totally worked to get all our components made! We made armatures out of cardboard, then papier-mached a layer (only one layer though due to time constraints). Next the components were painted in tempera (which got all crackled?!? drying too fast? Damp papier mache? Really old tempera?). Finally we assembled the components by using zip ties, tape, etc. One giant had an ice cream cone head, rainbow wings, bird feet, and a fringed dress of fabric strips knotted to a ring of cardboard. The other giant had a "cheesesteak" body, liberty bell head (with laser eye and mohawk), lightening bolt legs, a trash arm, and a hammer and scythe. The bird-like one took 3 kids to maneuver whereas the cheesesteak giant required 5 kids! We practiced for a while, then performed by "Stalking the city" and "chasing the villagers" (all the kiddos who weren't involved in giant maneuvering). It's ridiculous how happy it makes me to see these kids marching their giant puppet around- everybody wanted to try it out. I don't know if I could do this with a big classroom of kids in quite the same way, so it's a real pleasure getting to work with just 10 on something like this.
Next week we continue with Visual Arts week, where the kids will choose between painting, sculpture, and public art. I'll only be spending the mornings at camp, though, because next week I have to go to school to SET UP MY ART ROOM!!! I'm so excited, and nervous, but mostly excited. Just one more week to go before I start school.....

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