Acting, singing and painting at Educare Milwaukee

During the past school year, children at Educare Milwaukee had the opportunity to story act, sing in a choir and have their artwork displayed at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

The art activities were planned by the school’s arts committee, which works to embed art into the culture of the school.

“Supporting the parent-child relationship through the arts is one of our goals,” said Jill Udell, arts coordinator at Educare Milwaukee. Parents are involved throughout the year, from creating art with the children to enjoying performances and art displays.

Creating a curriculum that supports social-emotional development, literacy, language and creativity

Udell said the school used noted early childhood expert Vivian Paley’s approach to story acting to create a “curriculum that really supports social-emotional development, literacy, language and creativity.”

For example, teachers and children read a book about feelings, Our Many Colored Days, by Dr. Seuss. Then the teachers helped the children act out different types of feelings and create visual art about emotions. Children also dramatized their own stories in small groups.

While the story acting approach was new for the school, Udell says that children enjoyed it and teachers were able to adapt the curriculum to the specific interests and needs of the children in their classrooms.

Educare Milwaukee also formed a children’s choir with 18 preschoolers. The children practiced weekly, learning how to sing together, match pitch, and make songs dynamic by singing louder or softer or adding movement.

The choir gave two performances, one with traditional children’s songs and another celebrating Black History Month with songs by Ella Jenkins and Ella Fitzgerald. They also performed with singing and bells alongside a recording of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, “I Have a Dream” speech.

In addition to learning language and musical skills in the choir, “they’re learning about their own culture and their history in a way that makes sense for young children,” Udell said.

Through a partnership with the Milwaukee Museum of Art, the children’s artwork was on display at the museum for one day, where children, families and staff were able to see it and participate in other family activities.

The school also invites musicians from the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music to perform regularly for children and families.

The arts activities not only allow children to experience art, but also to experience themselves as artists, Udell said.

See photos from the school’s art activities below.

Learn more about art programs at Educare Milwaukee and Educare Atlanta.