Arts for All

Arts For All offers accessible artistic opportunities to children in the New York City area who face socio-economic, physical, or emotional barriers to exploring the arts. Through Arts For All, professional artists work with youth organizations to build self-confidence, self-expression, teamwork, resilience, and creativity in children.
Oct 26, 2012

Literacy Through the Arts Program Update

The LTA bulletin board at Hamilton Heights School.
The LTA bulletin board at Hamilton Heights School.

Check out the update on Literacy Through the Arts from Teaching Artist Robin Cannon Colwell, or Captain Robin.  Robin works with Kindergarten groups at 2 schools to enhance literacy using diverse creative means.  The AFA staff is a little upset that we aren’t in this class – it sounds like a lot of fun!

The fall semester of Literacy Through the Arts for Kindergarten is divided up into three units – Songs, Instruments, and Dance!

We begin the year supporting the classroom teachers by singing songs using letters they are learning each week.  Using songs like Apples and Bananas, Bumble Bee, N is for Noodle, P-P-P-Pumpkins, and Ukelele Lady, students identify the letters within the song they are singing, and engage in creating art with that letter.

One of my favorite lessons is Letter I.  First, we read the book Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni, a story of a little inchworm that measures birds one by one.  The class then sings the song Wiggle Worm while forming the letter I with their body and wiggling around the space as they dance to the music.  Lastly, the students are each given a piece of construction paper and various green materials to re-create art from the book.  This lesson is great and the teachers love showcasing the art in the hallways.

The second unit involves instruments. We begin by reading a book about instruments of the orchestra, and demonstrating how to create an ensemble.  The class makes their own “orchestra” using their voices and sounds from the alphabet.  Each week I bring in an instrument, or a picture of an instrument.  The class learns what letter the instrument starts with, and we listen to the sound it makes.  I play instrumental sounds and the students move like a tuba, piano, french horn, flute, trumpet, drum, and violin.  During a journal time, students are asked to color a picture of the instrument and write out it’s name. One lesson plan involves moving to the Peter and the Wolf soundtrack, which the kids love!

Our last unit is a favorite: dance!  Students learn simple steps for Mambo, Hip Hop, Ballet, and Waltz, along with the letter for each.   Over the course of four weeks, they make their very own jingle bell shaker using recycled toilet paper rolls, paint, large jingle bells, pipe cleaners, and stickers.  This project is a hit!  At the end of the semester, students perform the different styles of dance to coinciding versions of Jingle Bells, while playing their instruments – so much fun!

As a Teaching Artist, it has been exciting to watch this program evolve and grow, expanding last year to another school. We strive to meet the needs of the school’s current curriculum, as well as the Common Core standards. I am constantly looking for new and creative ways to engage the students through music and movement, and enhance learning in the classroom!  Watching some students who have a difficult time participating at the beginning of the year actually stand up to sing, dance, and play an instrument with their class at the end of the semester makes my own heart sing! 

Last Thursday at Hamilton Heights, one student asked me if I could come sing with them again on Saturday…I am happy to know I am helping to make learning so much fun that students want to go to school on Saturdays! :)

Thank you for supporting Literacy Through the Arts and all of Arts For All's creative programming!  Thank you for helping us reach over 3,000 in-need New York City children!

One student
One student's Inch by Inch project.
AFA intern Leslie assists in the LTA classroom.
AFA intern Leslie assists in the LTA classroom.
Oct 26, 2012

The Audience Project Schedule

The cast rehearses How Peanut Butter Met Jelly.
The cast rehearses How Peanut Butter Met Jelly.

"The situation seemed hopeless until one day; a small adorable innocent orphan boy went up to the two women right outside their castles..." 

That is the turning point in Jenn Palumbo's How Peanut Butter Met Jelly because that little boy teaches the Princess of Peanut Butter and the Duchess of Jelly that they can combine forces to make one awesome sandwich Thank you for being the forces that turned our 2012 Audience Project into a reality!

Thank you so much for supporting Arts For All's 2012 fall children's tour.  Thank you to those of you who were so kind to us on Bonus Day: we raised over $6,000 in less than twelve hours, and are now FULLY FUNDED!

After two and a half weeks of rehearsals, and a week of tech, the Audience Project shows are touring.  We are thrilled to be able to present How Peanut Butter Met Jelly and The Fairy Tale Academy to over 2,500 in-need students throughout New York City.  The actors, Mieko Gavia, Stephanie Holser, Miranda Kahn, and Timothy Regan are hard at work with director Lena Moy-Borgen, Production Manager Arienne Pelletier to reach all the schools.  We have already performed for 600 kids! with great success!

This is the current tour schedule: please keep an eye on the Arts For All website and blog for more updates from the performances!

October 25

Opening, Staten Island (2 shows, 9:30am and 1:15pm) - 600 children got to see the shows!

October 26

PS/IS 109, Brooklyn (1 show, Time TBD)

October 29

Hamilton Heights, Harlem (2 shows, times TBD)

October 30

Renaissance School, Queens (1 show, 11:30am)

November 1

PS 15, Lower East Side (1 show, 10:30am)

November 2

Weeksville Elementary, Brooklyn (1 show, 10:00am)

November 5

PS 163, Bronx (3 shows, 9am, 10:30am, and 1pm)

November 7

TBD Long Island University / Brooklyn Hospital (1 show, 5:00pm)

November 8

PS 212 HANAC, Queens (1 show, 2:50pm)


Thank you for all your support,

Anna, Olivia, and the Arts For All team

The cast performs
The cast performs 'The Fairy Tale Academy.'
Princess of Peanut Butter & Duchess of Jelly.
Princess of Peanut Butter & Duchess of Jelly.
Andersen, Grimm, and Aesop.
Andersen, Grimm, and Aesop.
The full cast of
The full cast of 'How Peanut Butter Met Jelly.'
Aug 10, 2012

Summer Programs Update from Arts For All

Arts For All is committed to providing programs in the summer as well as the school year.  This summer, Melissa Smith is on of our Teaching Artists working with New York City youth.  She is leading summer AFA workshops at New Alternatives for Children, a center for children living with disabilities, teaching theater skills and preparing the kids for final presentation for family and staff.  

What are you up to?

I’ve been doing a theater workshop at New Alternatives for Children for the past 4 weeks.  The sessions are 3 hours with a break each week.  We are able to work towards a presentation at the end of each session. 

What has that been like?

The first few weeks the challenge was to get the group to reveal things about them selves that related to the group, make bold choices and take leadership positions.  Some did not even want to share their name on the first day.  I have also been working on getting them to release their voice.  Literally – in the beginning it was the quietest theater workshop in all of the land.

This past week the new set of challenges were quite the opposite! The group is starting to gel and open up and are clearly having lots of fun, building healthy relationships and self esteem while learning.  This week, the challenge is quite different.  We are focusing on collaboration in the group.  In the last session, every single kid wanted to take the lead, so we worked on giving in the group, not always being in control or being the leader.  What a difference from the first class!

Through the games and exercises, they are learning to make negotiations and compromises with their peers and exploring ways to express themselves.

How do you organize your curriculum?

I introduced storytelling the first week and have layered in theater techniques and terms each week as we progress. With very few materials – simple scripts, scarves,  and of course their IMAGINATIONS – they have put together some very elaborate and creative stories each week.

What about you?  What’s your reaction to seeing all of this?

It’s so fun to see their imaginations take the lead and watch the elaborate stories they build around these simplistic scripts!

Thank you for letting Melissa lead her students at New Alternatives For Children in self-expression through story telling and theater, and thank you for keeping Arts For All thriving in 2012!


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