At first glance, the name of our summer art camp might seem odd. If you lean into it for a bit, I think you’ll understand. Our intention for the summer is to provide an arts program for children that invites creativity and self-expression. Additionally, this year we’ve included a social justice piece, as we explore the work of artists who have used their talents to help make the world a more equitable place. It might seem like a heady topic for young children. However, looking deeper at the subject, a rich layer of possibilities is revealed. It’s all in the approach to making social justice relevant.
For example, the first week’s theme is “Same and Different.” Even the very youngest students will begin to experience opposites such as bumpy and smooth, short and tall, through art, observation, and sensory experiences. Work with mirrors, mix and match photos of faces, the color wheel with complimentary colors, and exploration of symmetry/asymmetry will set the foundation for older students to understand the concept of contrasts. Engagement in projects that raise awareness about personal traits will help children look at their peers with more understanding eyes.
The second week’s focus is “How Do You Feel?” It will be a week-long exploration of the arts, including Picasso’s “blue period,” that will give children a chance to put words to feelings that arise in everyday life. Along with the words and feelings, opportunities will be made available to express those feelings through their art.
“Sharing Space” will be the third week’s topic. Toddlers will have lots of extra practice sharing their space with each other as they crawl in and out of cardboard boxes and other structures created by their teachers. Older children will learn about “personal bubbles” and how to fill each other’s bucket with acts of kindness. Children’s author/artists who have used their skills to widen the space of acceptance will be featured.
Qualities such as courage and bravery will be brought to life in week four, called “Super Heroes One and All.” Young artists who have a passion for super heroes will come to realize that they, too, have super powers. Practice using brave talk, balancing activities, and standing up for others will be woven throughout the week. Advocacy will be a strong thread woven through the 4th of July week.
The last two weeks, “Hopes and Dreams,” and “Peace and Love,” will be generous invitations to think outside the box, then turn ideas into action. It will be a time of opening up possibilities, then using the arts to express what arises. The last week will close the circle of our summer art camp’s intention by empowering children to see that their actions, feelings, and voices matter. Through dipping their brushes into jars of paint, then turning to their canvases to see what happens, they’ll begin to understand ways to use their unique voices in the world.