I am blessed to have two very different kids with two very different talents. One is extremely imaginative and has been drawing recognizable people since age 2 and the other is a linguist and a realist. In an effort to push child #2 out of his comfort zone, I went in search of an arts program geared toward preschoolers. What I found was pretty dismal — some (parent-present) finger painting and drawing, but not much else. “These kids are sponges ready for more complex concepts,” I thought. It turns out I was not alone.
Two former educators, Dana Burger and Jennifer Sherwood, were also in a quandary about how to best introduce their young children to artistic expression. Knowing that a creative thought process helps kids in many aspects of education, they decided to develop their own program designed for children ages 3-5. And voila, ArtsPlay was born.
ArtsPlay is a literature-based art and drama program that is designed to introduce young children to artists and actors through hands-on art projects, stories and play exploration.
Each class is divided into a visual art section and a performing art section. They begin by reading a book, then Dana introduces an art technique that relates to the particular story of the day. These concepts range from mixing colors to manipulating clay or papier mache, etc.
They then embark on a project that may take a few weeks to complete as the children learn to layer and build upon what they have learned.
The second part of class is lead by Jennifer and incorporates the senses, emotions, voice and body to reinforce the key themes from the story. Kids get up, run around, yell and learn the vocabulary of the theatre. In other word, they PLAY!
Combined, Dana and Jennifer have around 20 years of experience in visual arts, drama and education. This is fully evident when watching them in action. My son is engaged and often comes home and acts out what they’ve done in class that day. Because of the logical way they break down artistic concepts, his Spock-like mind is able to think outside the box more than before.
ArtsPlay classes are held once a week on Wednesdays from 1:30pm – 2:30pm in Reston. Registration for the winter session (January 7th – April 8th) is now open and space is limited. If there is enough interest for the winter session, they may add a Wednesday morning class from 10am – 11am.
I can’t recommend this program enough. The quality of art that has come home is heads and shoulders above what my older child is doing in the public schools. If only ArtsPlay would consider classes for older children, hint, hint!
For other arts-related articles on Modern Reston, visit our ART category.