CREATIVE ARTS – Believe it or not, we’ve come full circle.  Last year in July I wrote a blog about CREATIVITY.  Don’t worry, I won’t sing the same ole song, but with a different tune this year.  (For the joke, go back and read last year’s blog.)

This year, I want to focus on theatrical arts.  Last year was musical arts.  Of course, if you love musicals like Mamma Mia or Moulin Rouge, then you see how well they are connected.  But I do not plan to connect them at this time.  I plan to introduce you to new possibilities with children.  As you already know, I love music (but cannot for the life of me sing).  I love acting.  I have been such a fan that early in life I studied at Second City (but I was too scared and shy to go on auditions).  My husband encouraged me; I think because he thought it would let him off the hook for the singing lessons.

Why theatre for children?  Why not.  We all love acting.  We cherish actors so much that we have television shows called Reality TV where the actors pretend to be doing their natural everyday things, but in reality, it is all staged and scripted.  We devour the stuff.  We can barely wait for the next movie of our favorite genre to come out:  comedy, romance, action, thriller, science fiction, you name it, we love it all.

Think about the money these people make.  Why not theatre?

But more than money in the future, think about what it does for children.  I am not talking about the child star actors.  I am talking about the acting that goes on in your classroom.  Children in the Dramatic Play area reenacting an experience of their young lives.  Reenacting a story that they enjoyed.  Reenacting a troublesome event with puppets and dolls.  Or what about the children in the block area reenacting street or train or highway or farm experiences that have in their imaginations.

These are not only valuable but necessary for young children.

There are other elements to the theatrics that will benefit children.  Watching a live performance is fantastic for everyone. 

I know that sitting still is not in the range of expectations for children under 12 years of age, but there are many interactive and engaging plays for younger children. 

If you live near a major city, take advantage of it with the children in your classroom.  Long, long ago, schools and classrooms were encouraged to take field trips in order to expose children to other things in life.  In a world-class city like Chicago, you have amazing attractions:

*Field Museum of Natural History

*Adler Planetarium

Shedd Aquarium (not every exhibit is really that child friendly)

*Navy Pier Children’s Museum   

Chicago Cultural Center

*Museum of Science and Industry

Art Institute of Chicago

Chicago History Museum

DuSable Museum of African American History

Museum of Contemporary Art

Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center

National Museum of Mexican Art

*Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Loyola University Museum of Art

McCormick Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum

Swedish American Museum

National Veterans Art Museum

And this is not even a complete list.  In addition, many of these have free days.  The ones with the * I know for a fact are great for children.  The rest you should check out yourself and make that determination for the children you work with.

But I digress.  The point is that we need to get out more, now that we are in a COVID-19 lull.

We need to let children see and know more about the world and all the wonders it holds and one of those wonders is theatre for children.

Again, Chicago is a world-class place for introducing children to live performances.  I found that many of the children’s theatre groups and places had closed.  But they may reopen in the future.  COVID-10 took a toll on everyone.

At the Chicago Children’s Theatre, some performances are for children as young as two years old.  Here is a link to the 2022-2023 season.

If you check into the Chicago Theatre.Com for family presentations, you might like to refer some of these for your families, but also look at things like Bluey’s Big Play.  Always ask for the group discount for schools.  Do not discount such programs as the Joffrey Ballet and The Nutcracker.  There is no telling what might strike a child as amazing and mind-changing.

I was a director in a daycare center and one of my teachers was enthralled with The Nutcracker.  She read the story to the children.  She got the video (VHS) and the children watched it frequently (upon their request).  She taught them some ballet moves.  She taught them some dance vocabulary.  This went on for months.  The children were immersed, and they were committed to learning and doing more – boys and girls.  I checked frequently because I wanted to make sure the children were voluntarily engaged and not pushed because of her fascination.  They were involved and happy.  She was happy.  They did a performance for the school, and they were sensational.  You should have seen them all twirl and leap.

It would have been more intriguing if the children had been able to see the performance live, rather than on a video. 

Do not be afraid to experience more and allow the children to experience more.  Do not be afraid to research and find more interesting ways to involve children in the humanities and social studies.

Chicago Kids Company

They do not have any upcoming events listed, but they too are probably recovering and beginning to build.  Here is the website to check out periodically.

Beverly Arts Center

They have an upcoming performance called A GRAND AFFAIR.  Looks absolutely marvelous.  But they have a lot more for the future.  It’s a small theatre, but just right for children.

This might not be for every age group, only you will know what is good for the children you educate and how long they can sit.  I remember one child was afraid of the darkness when the lights went down.  I put her on my lap.  Once the show started, she stood up the rest of the time and was enthralled.  She told me “SH”!

My point is you need to check it out for yourself. 

Thinking about the costs?

Thinking about how you will manage ____ four-year-old children in a theatre?

Thinking about transporting _____ three-year-old children to the venue?

What else have you baffled and hanging back?

First, think about discounts from these.  Ask the parents to start an annual fund for such things.  Consider fund-raising with candy, taffy apples, bake sales, etc.  Another thought is to apply for grants.

Second, ask parents and volunteers (over 18 years old) to accompany you and assign them two children to keep up.  That should not be too overwhelming for anyone.  Check with the Department of Children and Family Services to make sure that will be acceptable.

Third, investigate the yellow school bus companies and do not be afraid to ask for a discount for a group your size (whatever size that is).

Do not let the logistics stop you from exploring.  Whatever the issue or challenge, it can probably be resolved.

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