Keep Them Learning All Summer Long (3 of 3)
Enrichment Activities for Families
This is part three of a three-part FLVS Virtual Voice blog series about enriching activities that will keep students learning all summer long. Part one shared enriching opportunities that can be found at your local public library. Part two focused on Geocaching. This post (part three) is all about art.
This summer, in between the barbeques and fun in the sun, take a moment to soak in the enriching art and cultural activities of your community.
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” – Edgar Degas
Museums and Cultural Events
Enrichment Areas: Critical thinking, creativity, design, diversity, and the arts
As school budgets tighten the belt around art programs, parents should question the quality of the art and music curriculum. I wonder why so many government officials see art programs in schools as the least objectionable budget to cut. Have they talked to the children or their parents? What is a school week without an hour in the art room using clay or learning a Chinese folk dance in music class? These experiences help our children see the world differently – globally. Paint brushes and instruments are disappearing from our children’s hands and it is up to us as parents to show them the importance of the arts.
Even the smallest cities in Florida have wonderful art galleries that offer low cost or free admission on certain days of the month.
I recommend contacting your local museums and marking your calendar ahead of time. There are also wonderful camps and classes that offer children direct instruction from well-trained docents as well as local artists. For example in Orlando, Rollins College offers Families Art Exploration, a hands-on art education program, the first Sunday of the month. This two-hour program is free for children and $5 for adults. The Orlando Museum of Art (OMA) has many educational opportunities each month for families and Harry P. Leu Gardens offers free day-time garden admission the first Monday of each month.
As you tour the galleries of museums and speak to the knowledgeable docents, have your children take notes (cameras are not allowed into the galleries) or sketch in a notebook. Having a journal in hand while walking through the gallery keeps your kids from whipping through in just 15 minutes. Been there, done that!
Have your children write down the artists’ names and the titles of the pieces they particularly appreciated. You might ask them to write some questions (Why did the artist use the color blue so much? Why did he or she paint only sad children?). Then have them do some research when you are home during the summer. Your visit to the gallery should not begin and end at the front door. It should extend throughout your life.
If you have interest in some of the residential art you might stop by the museum gallery gift store and see if they sell postcards of those pieces. Encourage your children to mail them to family or friends with an explanation of the art that graces the front of the postcard. Finally, use your family blog, favorite social media, or a simple notebook journal for your child to write down their thoughts. You might even do a search on the Internet for pictures of the art you saw in the museum. Pictures are a great way to add interest to your post.
It is important that we share with our children these culturally-enriching opportunities. Some special events require advanced reservations due to limited seating, so remember to plan ahead (up to four weeks in advance is my recommendation).
Don’t forget all of the diverse cultural events that happen each week in your city!
Most local papers offer a comprehensive guide to art festivals, music and theater performances, cultural exhibits, and such. Most of the events are low cost or free and offer a wide variety of creative activities for both children and adults. One popular event in late July in Orlando is the Target Family Theater Festival in Loch Haven Park. The event is free and features music, comedy, and puppet and magic shows. I recommend a light picnic lunch (my kids love picnics), but vendors are plentiful as you tour the grounds.
A great way to extend these museum enrichment activities is to visit your local library.
Create an “artist of the week” mural in your home and each week research an artist, musician, or dancer to feature on the wall. Check out books, videos, and CDs to research artists’ amazing lives and works of art. Have the children recreate art, images or lyrics for display. Each week, before taking the mural down, have the family talk about their favorite fact or piece from the artist. Show your children how much everyone should value art by having them create an art portfolio from their summer enrichment activities. You will be surprised how much they will take away from this experience.