As mentioned yesterday, this morning I had my last meeting with the 5 classes of 3 and 4 year olds that I have been working with since January. This was also my last day at that school. While there, I have worked with around 200 children as part of ETC's involvement with the Artlinks Adopt-A-School Program. Artlinks pairs artists and arts organizations in the Greater Cincinnati area with local schools to do a residency program that uses arts integration to teach. We normally work with two schools and do our Prelude program with each, but, due to funding cuts, Artlinks was only able to assign us one school this year. In fact they had to cut back so much that several extraordinary artists ended up without a pairing despite the great need for the arts in schools.
This year, the extraordinary Laura Stewart - Director of Education at Artlinks - gave me the great challenge of working with a public pre-school full of lovely and energetic children. I hadn't worked with this age group in quite a while, so this process was a bit unusual for me. I became the Story Lady. The teachers wanted me to teach theatre through the traditional fairytales the children were expected to know once they left this school. These tales were The Gingerbread Man, The Billy Goats Gruff, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and Jack and the Beanstalk.
Today, however, for our last meeting, I enlisted the vibrant imaginations of these little ones to create our own story from start to finish. This is NOT an activity for the impatient, nor it is something you should expect the kids to do alone. They gave spin you lots of amazing tales, but they need help organizing their thoughts. My goal was just to get them to understand that they have the power to make stories. Maybe someday down the line they will gain some confidence in a writting class by knowing that they wrote a story when they were 4 years old. Anyway, there were exciting tales of rocket ships and pirates, princesses and giants. Spiderman and Santa Claus made appearances, along with Tinkerbell and the Gingerbread Man.
Also a part of today's festivities: acting like monkeys!! We used our voices, bodies, and imaginations to become different animals. Here's a great shot of some little monkeys!
At the end of the day, I had a little less voice than I start with, but many more hugs! I will miss them all!!