YOU & YOUR CHILD
Art camp for kids
UF students raising money by teaching low-cost classes
Published: Wednesday, January 21, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 20, 2004 at 11:12 p.m.
If you've got a creative, crafty-type kid, here is a new opportunity for bliss (yes, bliss!) in the form of fun, original art classes taught by UF students.
What: University of Florida art education majors offer Saturday art classes for kids in grades K-5. Projects include making clay pots and figures, Styrofoam printmaking, bookmaking and animation.
Where: Room B12, southwest corner of Norman Hall, near SW 5th Avenue and 13th Street, UF campus.
When: noon-2:30 p.m. on Saturdays, Jan. 31 (grades 3-5); Feb. 14, (K-2) and Feb. 28 (3-5); March 20 (K-2) and March 27 (3-5).
Cost: $10/class includes all materials and a snack.
For more information: Visit http://grove.ufl.edu/~naea.
To sign up: Contact Jim O'Donnell at (352) 374-4043 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The UF chapter of the National Art Education Association is raising money for its members to attend the organization's national conference in Denver in April.
"It's the largest gathering of art educators in the world, the premier art education event," says Jim O'Donnell, chapter president.
How to raise the money for the trip? By doing what they will soon do best: teach art.
Upcoming classes for kids ages K-5 feature clay pots and figures, learning Styrofoam printmaking, making books and taking a turn at animation. Kids can sign up for one class or all of them. They cost $10 each, which includes materials and a snack.
The teachers are the same young people who volunteer at the Imagination Station at the Downtown Art Festival in the fall, so if your son or daughter enjoyed those projects, it's likely they'll love these.
Saturday's class was "puppet making." Using a pile of colored paper, glue and a set of decorative craft scissors, the kids curled, folded and cut their way into puppet nirvana. The students moved the kids seamlessly through activities, just like trained teachers in a real classroom.
The atmosphere was busy but calm, with a mellow Celtic CD playing in the background. There were only seven kids in the class, three teachers and even more helpers, so that there was about a 1:1 adult-to-child ratio. But they expect that will change.
"We think it will gain momentum as we go," says O'Donnell. As word about the classes spreads, they plan to top enrollment at 20 to 25 kids, which translates to about a 1:4 teacher-to-student ratio. Melanie Davenport, assistant professor of art education and student chapter sponsor, oversees the classes.
Camilo Moraga, 5, and Dylan Ankersen, 6, sat together Saturday, gluing and scissoring away.
"They're buds," says Tina Garucharri, Dylan's mom. The two boys are students in Arlene Johnson's kindergarten class at J.J. Finley Elementary School. Camilo is making an iguana puppet.
"Just look at 'em," says Garucharri. "Too much fun! They're all having such a good time. The teachers are great. They really help animate it and bring it alive and make it a lot of fun for the kids."
After clean-up and a snack, the kids sit with their teachers in a circle. It's time for puppet introductions.
Nineteen-year-old teacher Jeni Cruz's glamour-queen puppet has long blond curls and huge eyelashes.
"I'm Zsa Zsa," says Cruz, in a "dah-link," movie-star voice. "I think you're gorgeous," she gushes to O'Donnell's skeleton puppet across the circle. The kids crack up. "My favorite holiday is Halloween," replies the skeleton puppet in a choppy, monster voice, "and my favorite food is puppets, especially puppets who don't talk...." More laughter.
They divide into small groups, get behind their "stage" (a table laid on its side, with the kids crouched behind the tabletop), and act out short skits that mostly consist of puppets escaping doom.
These teachers are still "kids," sort of. Their joy in hanging out with the kids and sharing what they love to do is palpable.
"I had a great time. I probably had a better time than the kids," Cruz says, at the end of class. "It's fun to see kids on a college campus. You go so long without seeing kids," she adds, wistfully.
Camilo's dad, David Moraga, also enthused about the classes.
"This class fits in well with his school schedule. We don't have to rush to fit it in. It's great," says Morago. "I wish that more kids would take advantage of it."
Kathleen Ruppert brought her 8-year-old son Matthew Ruppert to class on Saturday. He's a student at Gainesville Country Day School, where his mom found out about the classes from a flyer.
"Matthew likes art and he likes doing creative things," she says. "His dad and I try to help him out by giving him opportunities. I also thought it was good experience for the kids here who want to be teachers."
Teri Davis, a UF graduate student in art education, is here today as both a helper and a mom. Her sons John, 4, and Clay, 6 - students at Stephen Foster Elementary -are both in class. (Clay made a cyclops puppet.)
"You don't keep every art project your kids ever do," says Davis, "but these are the types of projects that you will keep."
A 9-year-old fourth-grader at Littlewood Elementary School, Alison Gross said she has only taken art at school, never in extracurricular classes, but "I liked this," she says shyly. She holds up her puppet, making her mouth move.
"It's a girl puppet. She's a hippy, with orange and blue hair and heart-shaped glasses," Alison says. She's going to give it to someone special (it's a secret) for Valentine's Day.
Art as a catalyst for personal growth is what attracted senior Laura Hein, 21, to art education.
"I think art provides children really important opportunities to express themselves and to find out who they are and develop their individuality," says Hein, who graduated from Eastside High's International Baccalaureate program. "I'd like to be able to help them do that."
The art education students will be holding a student show Jan. 27 at the Reitz Union. The opening reception is 7-9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30, for the young students who'd like to see their teacher's work.
Julie Garrett can be contacted at (352) 374-5049 or email@example.com.
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