This past Wednesday was the last session of my summer art program. I met for three hours once a week (for six weeks) with a multi-age group of 10 students ranging from 5 to 11 years of age. It was very relaxed, and when the kids had ideas and suggestions we were able to act upon them immediately which was really nice. There was no pressure in terms of having to accomplish certain specific tasks as there might be during the school year. If something we were engaged in lasted for two hours instead of one, we went with the flow.
I had planned some fun open ended art activities such as building forts and collaborative drawing, and I had hoped we’d be able to create an original play. We found that the drama improv activities were really fun, but 6 sessions just isn’t enough time to create an original play, especially when some kids didn’t make it every week due to family vacations. At the suggestion of the students, we decided to perform a play which was based on a mad libs version of the three little pigs that I had presented as an improv activity the first session. The great thing was, that though the basic story was not original, the kids put their own stamp onto it changing the story into the wolves and the evil pig, and they got very creative with their own impromptu dialogue between the characters! At the next to the last session when we were rehearsing the play, I wondered if it would come together, as the rehearsal was a bit challenging. At the last session we rehearsed the play once, spent about an hour creating a set using big pieces of cardboard, colored masking tape, markers, and some supporting tables and chairs. Then we had one last run through before the parents arrived. The kids really had fun creating the sets and performing for their parents. Student plays always seem to come together beyond expectations when the parents show up! (Major sigh of relief for me!) They also performed an improv game that was our favorite from the six sessions which the parents really enjoyed too. Now I’m gearing for the upcoming school year, and I hope there will be many opportunities for students to build on classroom learning experiences with their own ideas, as occurred this summer!