Friday, October 2, 2009

An Early Introduction to the Performing Arts

Our new Interact with Art Gallery, The Play's the Thing, has been open for almost a month! Visitors explore the dramatic arts and stretch their imaginations through the use of props, set designs, puppets, costumes and storybooks. For younger children, this exhibit spurs ideas for pretend play. For older children, who are ready for or excited to try a performance, the gallery provides a venue for their imagination.

Even with no background or experience in theater arts, the National Endowments for the Arts advocates that parents and caregivers capitalize on children's natural tendency to pretend. The new exhibit is just the place to do that! Using authentic props and hand-made costumes, you and your child can explore play themes based on home, woods, animals and the ocean. The backdrop, puppets and some of the props and costumes will change during the year based on one of the four themes. Our observations in the Museum show that children will intuitively use these props and costumes for pretend play. The stage, set designs and familiar Cat's Tower and You Drive exhibits give children opportunities to expand their pretend play into performance.

Stop by the gallery on Mondays from 9:30 - 10 am and you can meet Kristi V.K. Bramlett , a teacher from the School of Performing Arts and adjunct professor from Columbia College. Through the use of pretend play, storybooks, puppets and even a song or two, Kristi invites children to participate in all aspects of theater. Through her "Storybook Studio," children practice skills needed for self-expression, language, memorization and socialization.

Recently, Kristi read the book, I Feel Silly by Jamie Lee Curtis as a way to explore what emotions look like and validate all feelings as important. Throughout the story children were asked to show what their face might look like for varying emotions. At the end of the story they were invited to illustrate a facial expression.

Next, at a child's request, they moved to the You Drive, where they pretended to be very happy about driving to the zoo, which led to the reading of another story, Put me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire.

Playing together = Learning together! Stop by the Play's the Thing and see where your and your child's imaginations will take you!

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