by Norah Vawter
Earlier this week, we celebrated National Craft Day, but at CARE Actor, we're still thinking about fun arts and crafts ideas. We think every day is a day to do art, and that National Craft Day was just an awesome reminder of this!
You might wonder what art has to do with theater. We feature a lot of crafts and art projects on this blog and in classes. Our Dramatic Kids and Theatrical Teens write their own original scripts and create costumes, sets, and props.
Photo credit: CARE Actor's Dramatic Kids Summer Campers performing their original play, complete with DIY set and costumes.
We include art and writing intentionally because we love to nourish kids' love of art, and to witness them creating beautiful artwork, whether they're performing a play, improvising silly characters on the spot, writing scripts, or making costumes, sets, and props
Theater is a fluid blending of performing arts, visual arts, and written expression.
In many of our camps and classes, we also integrate fun art projects that relate to our theme of the day. Sometimes we create art about non-typical dragons who just want to be themselves. Sometimes it's brave birds learning to read while they fly, because the world is full of amazing things to see and learn. Sometimes we make clouds out of shaving cream and wonder.
Photo credit: CARE Actor's Act It Out campers showing off their awesome art project of the day.
As teaching artists, we believe, with all our hearts, that theater has the power to transform children's minds and imaginations, because it's more than one art form. It's acting, and writing, and drawing, and molding. It's how we move our bodies, how our gestures and body language can speak for us. It's music and dance. It's the rhythm of imagination.
Theater is . . . creativity.
Theater is . . . connection.
Theater is . . . listening to each other.
Photo credit: CARE Actor kid-made set backdrop demonstrates how the visual arts blend naturally into the performing arts.
Theater is . . . a safe space to express yourself.
Theater is . . . collaboration.
Photo credit: CARE Actor Dramatic Kids performance coming together in perfect imperfection.
Theater is . . . teamwork.
Theater is . . . community.
Photo credit: CARE Actor's community of family and friends enjoys another rousing performance by our talented kiddos.
In honor of the recent National Craft Day, read on for a project you can do with your kids, at home, which incorporates all the arts of theater. And if you haven't signed your kiddo up for summer camp, spring break camp, or spring classes, registration is open across Northern Virginia and Maryland!
A Book (and Skit) of Your Own
This is an opportunity for your child to write a story, illustrate it in his or her own little book, and then act it out. In honor of St. Patrick's Day, you might want to add a leprechaun or tidbit of Irish history to the story.
We like to put a focus on the process rather than the product, so even if your child isn't old enough to read on their own or write yet, turn this project into a family affair and transcribe their words for them! Older kiddos may still need some help, or maybe just encouragement. We're more interested in what our students create than the product being perfect. No need to fret about spelling or handwriting. After all, theater is never complete! I like to tell my students: A little rough around the edges feel will make it feel uniquely you!
Photo credit: CARE Actor
-Lined paper and/or white printer paper
-Hole punch and yarn OR stapler
-Crayons, markers, or colored pencils.
1. Optional -- If you have a kiddo who wants to get the story written "just so," tell him or her to write a draft of the story on paper before making the final book.
2. For a full-sized book, choose two pieces of construction paper for the cover, and lined or blank white printer paper for the inner pages. For a half-sized book, fold one piece of construction paper and the blank/lined paper for pages in half and cut in half.
3. Punch two or three holes along the edge of your pages. Weave yarn through the holes and tie for binding. Alternative: Staple edges together for binding.
4. Write title on cover. Write out story on inner pages. I love to go along on the journey with my kids, and so I'm always having fun listening to and reading their stories. It's so inspiring to see the way a child's imagination works!
5. Illustrate the story. Younger kiddos will have books full of illustrations with a few words. Older kiddos may have more words and fewer illustrations (though some may be more visually inclined and therefore illustrate their books intensively).
6. Act out the story! Now it's time for the whole family to join in the fun of creating a skit from your kiddo's story. Need ideas for DIY costumes and props? Check out our Halloween blog post where we wrote about costume and pretend play ideas for all-year-round. When acting out the skit, remember that if you look or feel silly on stage, you're doing it right!
Looking for more craft ideas? Check out our previous blog posts for projects where your kids experiment with color, make a wacky self-portrait and get into the winter spirit with messy ice-paint, the whole family makes an abstract family-portrait, and more!
Photo credit: CARE Actor's Theatrical Teens deep into creative collaboration.
We would love to hear about your experiences making art at home! If you make a book or try out any of our projects, please let us know how they turn out for you. And definitely share your own ideas! We're always looking to learn new stuff. Sound off in the comments section below. Share your tips and tricks on social media, and use hashtags #careactorkids and #createwithCARE. Your idea might just be featured!
by Norah Vawter
Spring is almost here, and at CARE Actor we're really excited. All these new possibilities in the air! Registration is open for spring classes, as well as spring break and summer camps, so we're definitely looking forward to the new season. As always, we're inspired by what our kiddos are getting up to in class. Our theme of the month is TEAMWORK/COOPERATION, and we see a lot of that happening spontaneously in class.
It’s not difficult to find improv games that highlight teamwork. In fact, I can’t think of a game that doesn’t require teamwork, cooperation, or collaboration. I just read this great article on the value of acting classes for both kids and adults, and was reminded that "the first rule of improvisation is 'yes, and,' meaning that anyone’s contribution to the group discussion is accepted without judgment." In the words of a student quoted in this article: “When you’re performing, it’s not competitive . . . . Improv helps you change on the inside.” If this girl wasn’t doing improv? “I would be a more scared and quiet person. . . . I wouldn’t be the same person.”
Photo credit: CARE Actor
Recently I wrote about an improv game called “Walking Blind,” where one student is blindfolded and led around the room by a partner. The partners can’t talk, communicating by touch alone. I wasn’t counting on my kids being so good at communicating without talking, or so thoughtful to each other. One boy came up with an elaborate system, tapping his partner’s right shoulder to turn right, his left to turn left, pulling back to stop his partner. His partner figured it out almost immediately. They were almost giddy in their excitement to explain how it had worked. A pair of girls looked disappointed, saying they’d done nothing that “cool.” But I’d seen them turning right, left, stopping, just like the boys. After discussing the game some more, they realized they’d communicated just as effectively, though their “system” was more intuitive.
Getting in the Mood to Collaborate
You may already have plans for projects to do as a family as the weather warms up. Spring cleaning, anyone? Maybe a garden you’ll plant together? Maybe you’ve hoping to not drive each other crazy on that eight-hour road trip? We know. We’ve been there. Whatever the project, we wish you well. And, we’ve got some artistic collaborations that might help you find your groove.
This time we’re sharing four variations on one basic idea. Creating art together. Whether you produce a drawing, collage, or story, talk about how it felt to collaborate. Was it hard or frustrating to see someone taking your idea and changing it? Or freeing? Were you surprised how the drawings/collages/stories turned out? Was anyone leading?
What was it like to mesh different artistic or storytelling styles together? Could you have created this by yourself?
Photo credit: CARE Actor
Creative Collaboration: Drawing
Creative Collaborations: Collage
Photo credit: CARE Actor
Creative Collaborations: Improv Game
“One Word at a Time”
– Just your group and their imaginations
Creative Collaborations: Writing Stories
We would love to hear about your experiences with collaboration at home! If you try out any of these projects, please let us know how they turn out for you. And definitely share your own ideas and things that have worked for you. Sound off in the comments section below. Share your tips and tricks with us on social media and use hashtags #careactorkids and #collaboratewithcare! Your idea just might be featured!