Tag Archives: arts and crafts

Camp meets creativity

Youth enjoying a spring break camp at Mesa Arts Center last year

In a perfect world, our schools would be overflowing with art classes and academic classes integrating the arts into everything from history to science. Families would spent weekends taking children and teens to local libraries and museums. Children would race home after school to create their own puppet shows or paintings with recyclable materials or inexpensive supplies.

Youth enjoying a summer camp at Phoenix Theatre last year

But worries about time, money and plenty of other factors too often get in the way — and today’s kids are getting a raw deal in the arts and culture department.

Summer camps are a way to fill that void. They help children and teens discover the joys of creative expression, connect with friends who have similar interests and learn new skills rarely taught at home or school.

I’d like to say that my kitchen table was always covered with canvas and paints, but it wasn’t. And the sheets my kids loved to throw over the dining room table for pretend play spent too much time in the linen closet.

My children are all in college now, but it was tough to find the best camp fit when they were younger. Today parents have resources that add a “one-stop shopping” element to the whole experience — like the Raising Arizona Kids Magazine summer camp directory, and their annual camp fair.

This year they’ve expanded the Raising Arizona Kids Magazine Camp Fair to two days, and I’m eager to attend both days so I can meet and chat with all the folks offering camps that feature visual and/or performing arts.

It’s a great way to see what’s out there for children and teens in areas like dance, music, theater, film and visual arts — though I have to confess that I’m easily distracted by all the other camps I find there, especially when animals are involved.

Youth enjoying Camp Broadway 2007 at ASU Gammage

I’m told there are still a few spaces in case any of you want to jump in at the last minute to let folks know about your own camps for children or teens. If you’re a parent seeking summer camp options, you’re wise to start the search now. I learned the hard way too many times just how quickly some of these camps fill up every year.

Youth enjoying a spring camp at Valley Youth Theatre

We sometimes get so busy with our daily lives that we forget to make time and space for our children and teens to explore new ideas and activities, to experiment with materials rarely enjoyed at home or in the classroom, to interact with other youth in positive settings that foster social and emotional skills.

Thankfully, there’s a camp for that.

– Lynn

Note: To learn more about securing exhibit space for your organization at the 2012 Raising Arizona Kids Magazine Camp Fair, call the magazine office at 480-991-KIDS (5437).

Coming up: History in your hometown

Calling all candy wrappers

A bit of sweet inspiration from Times Square in New York City (Photo: Lynn Trimble)

Well, not all of them. Just the shiny, metallic ones you find wrapped around old-style sticks of gum and fancy candies like Ghirardelli Squares. Now is the time to sacrifice for your art. Savers can unload Halloween goodies of years past. Bakers can contribute shiny wrappers from all those candies baked into secret cookie recipes.

Because the Children’s Museum of Phoenix is on a mission to bring a bit of bling to their art gallery while reminding families that recycling can make everyone’s world a shinier place. If you have candy wrappers to spare, or a willingness to indulge for a good cause, just drop your candy wrappers off next time you’re at the museum. They’ve got special boxes at the front desk and inside the art studio.

I’m told that the art studio elves put together a giant bulletin board each year to welcome the new year, and that the 2012 installation will feature one of the museum’s themes for next year — the fine art of mosaics. It’s already got me inspired to dig out all those shards of broken pottery I’ve saved through the years. It’s called recycling, dear. Not hoarding.

Once the bulletin board project gets underway later this month, young museum visitors will get card stock squares measuring three inches from side to side — and fun tools for decorating them to their little hearts content before adding them to the collective work of art ala bulletin board. Metallic candy wrappers will add that touch of sparkle.

Hearing news of the giant bulletin board reminded me of the year our daughter Jennifer (now in college) was so into arts and crafts that her Christmas gift was the transformation of her bedroom into a studio of sorts — complete with a giant crafting surface (a whimsically painted door over two short shelves stocked with supplies) and a huge homemade bulletin board.

We used a dresser with a tall shelf firmly secured on top as a room divider, separating sleeping space from crafting space — then covered the back of the dresser/shelf combo with cork squares. Once she added playful pushpins, Jennifer had a place to display all her drawings, paintings and other two-dimensional works. Had we known of the candy wrapper idea at the time, the cork might’ve been covered in peppermint bark wrappers.

Families looking for affordable and creative Christmas tree bling have a friend in candy canes and peppermint candies sporting red and white or green and white swirls. Candy canes are fun for very little ones to hang on the tree, and no hooks are required. Older kids can tie together candies that have wrapper “handles” on each side, creating garland for trees, fireplaces and other holiday fare.

You’ll find inspiration for lots of other family crafts at local museums — including the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, the Arizona Museum for Youth, the Phoenix Art Museum, the Heard Museum, the ASU Art Museum and many more. There’s nothing quite as sweet as a childhood sprinkled with local arts and culture.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about the Times Square Alliance in NYC

Coming up: Author pearls about thinking girls

A little slice of crafting

Family enjoying craft time at a previous craft rave

Mention the word “pie” and I’m there in a heartbeat. So news of this Saturday’s 10-hour “craft rave” at Bragg’s Pie Factory in Phoenix had my fork fingers poised for action — until I remembered that their pies are a thing of the past.

Though the factory, built in 1947, served as a bakery for two decades — it’s since been renovated and added to a national historic register. Nowadays the downtown Phoenix venue houses “art studios, small businesses & special events.” Guess my fork will have to find its way back into the drawer.

Proof that dads can be crafty too

Here’s the scoop on this Saturday’s event — It takes place from 2pm until midnight, and it’s hosted by a couple of crafters named Kathy Cano-Murillo (also known as “The Crafty Chica“) and Cyndi Coon of Laboratory 5. You’ve seen Coon’s art if you’ve been to the “Artists and their Children” exhibit at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art young@art gallery.

The idea, I’m told, is for folks to make homemade gifts at the craft rave rather than shopping their fool heads off. My wording, not theirs. I’m sure the crafty folks are far less tacky when not armed with glue guns. You can get into this shindig for just $5, then choose from all sorts of crafting options. Some are free, and others cost $5, $1o or $15.

Ashley looks like a careful crafter

The first 1oo people in the door get “goodie bags” provided by event sponsors Michaels, Provo Craft and iLoveToCreate — and there are lots of raffle prizes too. Think I can finagle a special prize for making the most crafts shaped like a slice of pie? I find pecan, strawberry and peach pie ever so inspiring. Even if Bragg’s has become a BYOP joint.

Looks like more than a dozen artists will be teaching crafts at the event. There’s Sarah Spencer on button bracelets, Stacy Rebecca on finger puppets, Cyndi Coon on jewelry and hairwear, Marrissa Vidrio on handmade journals and Meghan Olesen on felted soap. For the ornament inclined, Felicity Snyder will teach embroidery ornaments and Mia Murrilo will teach glitter ornaments and nails (that way your hands look lovely while you’re hanging those babies on the tree).

Coon notes that several of the projects are great for kids and teens, including microbead jewelry (taught by Mary Beth), painted bangle bracelets (taught by Kathy Cano-Murrilo) and custom lip balms (taught by Heather Ellis). Even duct tape projects by Joe Angel Rolis, which sound like they might fit both the “nice” and “naughty” people on your holiday list.

Molly and Ronan making t-shirt yarn jewelry

Lots of families and kids attended last year’s event, according to Coon, who offers this additional enticement to those of you still sitting on the fence about mall versus make-it-yourself gifts — Lots and lots of marshmallow PEEPS® will be in the house. Eat them. Craft with them. Fantasize about making pie with them. Take your picture with them. It’s your call. PEEPS has donated them for your enjoyment, because that’s just the way of the PEEPS. So much the better if you decide to enter their “Deck the PEEPS” contest.

Glitter, PEEPS and duct tape. Every Saturday should be so splendid.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to read about “Craftapalooza 2011″ with Raising Arizona Kids calendar and directories editor Mala Blomquist, who somehow manages to bake and craft beyond even Martha’s wildest dreams amidst a myriad of RAK responsibilities and time devoted to hubby, daughters and pets galore.

Coming up: Homemade holiday gift ideas, Traveling the yellow brick road, Art meets MLK Day

Photos courtesy of Cyndi Coon

Homemade holiday ornaments

When our three children were younger, we often enjoyed crafting homemade holiday ornaments together. The kitchen table, covered with old newspapers or a tacky plastic tablecloth, was transformed into arts and crafts central — covered with yarn, pipe cleaners, glitter, fabric paints and other raw materials.

When you’re out and about running holiday errands, hit your local craft or creative papers store for some basic supplies so you’re ready when the mood for holiday ornament-making strikes. Think felt, craft paints, embroidery floss, popsicle sticks, molding clay, jumbo beads and such. Even clear ball-style ornaments you can partially fill with paint and swirl around to make one-of-a-kind decorations.

Tree filled with homemade ornaments

Sometimes we had a separate Christmas tree just for the ornaments crafted by our children — like the one at right covered with felt shapes traced with holiday cookie cutters and styrofoam balls decorated with glued-on buttons. Even the yarn and popsicle stick “God’s eyes” they learned to make while listening to lore about my childhood summer camp days.

If you’re entertaining during the holidays, consider filling a tree with edible ornaments. Rolls of storebought cookie dough thickly sliced and baked make a tasty decor/dessert combo assuming you remember to punch a hole in each cookie with a jumbo straw before baking. Once your cookies are baked and decorated, just thread a pretty ribbon through the hole and they’re ready for hanging. A few will crumble, but that’s half the fun. Those go to your tiny taste testers.

For folks needing a bit of inspiration on how to get started, here’s a list of simple ideas. Pick the ones that work best for your child’s age and your own family budget — then gather the supplies and go for it!

  • Make holiday shapes with cookie cutters and either store-bought or homemade modeling dough (some doughs require baking before painting and decoration)
  • Fold origami paper into cranes or other shapes — or use scissors to make kirigami (cut paper) designs like snowflakes
  • Make heart shapes with wire or pipe cleaners, then add tied-on strips of colorful fabric around the borders
  • Roll ball-shaped ornaments in glue, then roll again to cover with glitter, sequins or tiny seed beads (old cookie sheets are helpful here)
  • Make frames for family (and pet) photos — using popsicle sticks, thin sheets of craft foam, braided pipe cleaners and such
  • Dip pipe cleaners in glue, then cover with glitter — shaping them into hearts, stars and swirls once they’re nearly dry
  • Cover bendable wire or pipe cleaners with colorful beads before shaping them into hearts, teardrops or other designs
  • Cut felt after tracing designs with cookie cutters, then embellish with stitches of brightly-colored embroidery floss

Consider a theme tree if your family has a special interest like animals or reading together. Book lovers can create their own bookmarks, then hang them from the tree — and make miniature versions of their favorite books by folding plain white index cards in half and drawing or coloring the front and back “covers.”

Folks eager to reinforce the importance of giving while downplaying more material aspects of the holiday season can make their own “good works” or “good wishes” tree. Try filling a tree with hand-decorated messages family members write to each other then share on Christmas eve or Christmas day.

Or making a special tree now that’s covered in strips of paper (like Chinese cookie fortunes) noting different good deeds — like “Make cookies for a neighbor” or “Volunteer one hour helping hungry families” — then let family members take turns opening the notes each day, and doing the good deeds inside them. Like an advent calendar for random acts of kindness.

Those less daring in the do-it-yourself department have plenty of craft kit options, including Shrinky Dinks, that’ll bring fast and relatively easy results. Also fun places like pottery painting studios.

Don’t forget the tried-and-true favorites from your own childhood days, including multi-color paper chains crafted from strips of construction paper. They’re inexpensive to make and easy for family members of varying ages to create while enjoying a spot of hot chocolate or apple cider together.

– Lynn

Coming up: Smart kitty, Spring art classes for kids

Art meets spaghetti?

When the Blue Bike Kids Show gang premiered their “Hall of Art-O-Vation” at a recent ASU Art Museum Family Fun Day, proud parent Kimberly Flack was busy snapping photos.

Kimberly Flack snapped this photo of the Blue Bike Kids Show at work

Flack is the associate general manager of educational outreach for Eight, Arizona PBS – something I find especially nifty given that the Blue Bike Kids Show would make for a lovely public television offering.

Steve Wilcox of Blue Bike taking photos at ASU Art Museum

The Bike Bike Kids Show brought along “four new art tools invented in the Blue Bike labs” — including the “Brushghetti Brush,” created by “binding a handful of spaghetti with rubber bands and boiling the ends” to make a paintbrush.

A young artist tests the Blue Bike method for mixing art and spaghetti

Also their “Ye-Old-Chalk-Mill” (a chalk-filled pepper grinder for making art with glue stick drawings), “Roll-O-Writer” (a toy truck with marker attached so kids can race and draw at the same time) and “Drizzle Drawer” (a straw for blowing ink to make interesting patterns).

Folks who stay tuned to the Blue Bike Kids Show website can learn of other public appearances featuring the gang’s interactive installations. The Blue Bike Kids Show gang consists of three Valley artists and teachers with ties to ASU.

When I think of the Blue Bike Kids Show, I think curiosity, creativity and collaboration. Also imagination and innovation. I’m starting to wish they’d jump on those blue bikes of theirs and head to Capitol Hill, where problem-solving and playing nice seem in short supply.

This Blue Bike image reminds me of politicians facing off over raising the debt ceiling

The next First Saturdays for Families at ASU Art Museum (Sat, Aug 6 from 11am-2pm), inspired by their popular video exhibition titled “By myself and with my friends,” features all sorts of animal crafts.

Another Blue Bike photo with a science and art history twist

Also animal-inspired dancing with dancer/choreographer Elizabeth Johnson and a visit from some animal friends courtesy of the Arizona Animal Welfare League. The event is free and open to kids of all ages.

More art & photography magic from the Blue Bike Kids Show gang

And it has me wondering how the family cat Pinky might look in one of the Blue Bike Kids Show’s old-timey photos.

– Lynn

Coming up: Oh-My-Oz!

Art adventures: Phoenix Public Market

I headed to downtown Phoenix with my son Christopher last Saturday, eager to check out the the Blue Bike Kids Show booth and other offerings at a festive farmers market-style event at the corner of Central & Pierce in downtown Phoenix.

We found all sorts of cool vendors — sharing fresh foods, arts and crafts, unique gift items and more. It reminded me of a similar morning spent many years ago in the French Market District in New Orleans. There was even a live band on the scene.

The Phoenix Public Market is a program of a non-profit organization called Community Food Connections. The market consists of Urban Grocery and Wine Bar plus Open-Air Markets held Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings. It’s located just three blocks south of the Roosevelt/Central light rail station.

It was our first visit, so we just made the rounds with camera in tow — but we’ll have to return one day for some grub. The Urban Grocery and Wine Bar menu, which you can explore online, includes egg dishes, pastries, smoothies, sandwiches, soups, salads and more.

The market works to increase access to fresh and healthy foods in an underserved area, to help micro-businesses launch and increase capacity, to create jobs and family self-sufficiency, to help farmers stay on the land and to create a vibrant gathering place for community members.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Open-Air Market, in existence since 2005, features in-season fruits and vegetables, flowers, jams, baked goods, dried beans, free-range eggs and honey. Also live plants and local arts & crafts wares. Even hot foods and plenty of things to sample. Everything there is made by the person selling it.

You can find a vendor list online too — which includes several with whimsical names that caught our eye. Alley Cat Art Studio. Art and Soul Designs. Dirty Bird Soap. Fresh From the Goddess. Happy Snappy Dog Treats. Horny Toad Farms. Life Lemons. Mom’s Gone Nuts. Pat on the Back. Tiny Tater Tees. You get the picture.

Even Desert Marigold School, affiliated with Arizona Waldorf, brings produce and flowers from the school’s garden — as well as handmade crafts.

There were lots of parents and children milling to and fro the morning we attended. Many stopped at the Blue Bike Kids Show booth to get blue balloon animals or have a photo taken — proof positive that there’s more to life than cruising the mall or racing to see who gets first shot at the remote.

– Lynn

Note: The Blue Bike Kids Show is holding a way-cool nostalgic-style picnic in Tempe on Sunday (June 26). Watch for details on the picnic –plus “a couple time-o-portation pics” they took at last weekend’s Phoenix Public Market event — in one of two Sunday posts.

Coming up: Summer of Shakespeare, NYC in Scottsdale?, Art adventures: Broadway!

Starlight shares new season

Starlight Community Theater in Anthem is among just a handful of community theaters who’ve already announced their 2011-2012 season.

When I got the news, I noticed that five of the six pieces have previous film adaptations. Some are based on books, some have Broadway adaptations and one has even been adapted for radio broadcast.

In previous incarnations, they starred folks like Natalie Wood, Gene Wilder, Sarah Jessica Parker, Johnny Depp, Boris Karloff, Carol Burnett and Eddie Albert.

The 2011-2012 Starlight Community Theater season opens with “Willy Wonka” — based on a 1964 Roald Dahl book titled “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” A 1971 film adaptation starred Gene Wilder, while the 2005 version featured Johnny Depp.

I think it would be grand fun to have a “Willy Wonka” weekend. Let your kids invite some friend over to watch the films, enjoy a sleepover and hit a matinee of the Spotlight performance the next day.

The game and craft possibilities are plentiful. Think giant colored “lollypops” that spin atop long sticks. Treasure hunts for small candies. Board games like “Candyland.” An old-fashioned taffy pull. Puzzles with a candy theme. Facepainting peppermints and gumdrops on glowing cheeks.

I love the fact that kids can access these works in other ways before or after seeing the Starlight productions on stage.

They can watch both “Miracle on 34th Street” films (1947, 1994) before seeing Starlight perform “Miracle on 34th Street, the Musical” on stage. And enjoy the 2010 Disney film “Tangled” before attending the Starlight performance of “Rapunzel” (a “Jim Gradillas Kids Production”). And they can read Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Princes and the Pea” before seeing the stage adaptation called “Once Upon a Mattress.”

The content is a bit more mature for two of their 2011-2012 offerings. Tweens and teens familiar with the 1980 and/or 2009 film versions of “Fame” may enjoy revisiting the movies before seeing Starlight perform “Fame!” on stage. There’s also “Arsenic & Old Lace” who those who enjoy mixing their slapstick with a good dose of dark comedy.

Stay tuned to the Starlight Community Theater website for additional details — audition dates, performance dates and more specifics on each show. Then have fun with these shows. Think birthday parties, outings with grandparents, playdates with friends.

And if one of these shows inspires your child to create a fun piece of artwork, write an original poem, perform a delightful puppet show — or craft something else fueled by his or her own creativity, I’d love to hear about it or share some photos with our readers.

– Lynn

Note: You can always send photos of your children’s music, dance and theater-inspired art to me at rakstagemom@gmail.com for possible inclusion in upcoming posts.

Coming up: More new season announcements

Ireland meets Japan

Famous castle in Himeji, Japan -- one of nine Phoenix sister cities, which also include Ennis, Ireland (Photo: http://www.famouswonders.com)

As wearers of the green celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, all of our hearts go out to the people of Japan. It turns out both countries have cities considered “sisters” of Phoenix, Arizona (we have nine global “sisters” in all).

Families who attend the free “WorldFEST” this weekend can enjoy all sorts of hands-on activities and exhibits in the “Sister Cities Village” — including “making fairy wreaths with Irish colors from Ennis, Ireland” and “competing in a chopstick challenge by Himeji, Japan.”

Festival guests are invited to participate with the Phoenix Sister Cities Commission as they launch a fund drive to assist relief efforts in Japan by making donations at the Himeji, Japan booth in the “Sister Cities Village.”

Other hands-on activities include “learning cattle roping from Calgary, Canada” and “making carnival masks from Catania, Italy.” Just make sure the siblings in your brood know better than to practice the roping techniques on one another.

You can even enjoy “writing your name with Chinese characters from Chengdu, China” and “face painting and pinata-breaking by Hermosillo, Mexico.” Sibs will want to avoid trying those last two on one another too — not that the little darlings would ever consider such things.

Parades are another matter. These are plenty safe to try at home assuming you don’t expect the family cat to lead the march. There’s just a single parade time for the festival so don’t miss it if your family is fond of floats and such.

This weekend’s “Sister Cities Parade” — complete with “colorful flags and festive floats” from Phoenix sister city regions — kicks off at 1pm on Sat, March 19 as part of “WorldFEST,” which takes place at Heritage and Science Park in Phoenix (home of the Arizona Science Center).

“WorldFEST” hours are Fri, March 18, 4-10pm; Sat, March 19, Noon-11pm; and Sun, March 20, Noon-5pm. It features “sights, sounds and tastes from around the world.” Think art, dance and music — plus food/drink and more.

Grown-ups can enjoy “beer sampling & pints” (not so free) and cooking demonstrations by various chefs. But the kiddos will have more interest in “KidsWORLD” — described as “an interactive, educational playground engaging children to travel over seven continents.”

I’m told there’ll be areas where children can “explore rain forests in South America,” “dodge icebergs in Antarctica,” and enjoy “a mini safari through the African jungle.” Not sure how that works — but I’m eager to find out. Let’s hope my height (or grey hair) won’t give me away…

– Lynn

Note: Heritage and Science Park is located at 115 N. 6th St. in Phoenix — near plenty of Valley attractions, including the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.

Coming up: Finding voice lessons in the Valley

Only the inside should matter

One of several bookmarks honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. -- created by ASU from K-12 student entries in their most recent MLK, Jr. Day poster-essay contest

I was struck by this simple sentiment as I enjoyed the online gallery of winning writings and artwork from an MLK poster-essay contest sponsored by Arizona State University.

After putting out the call last fall to K-12 students throughout the state, ASU received more than 17,000 entries. Students were invited to submit an essay about someone they know who “leads through service to others.”

The 24 winners will be honored Thurs, Jan 20, at a special event with ASU president Michael Crow and other special guests, including the students’ parents, teachers and principals.

Winners receive a savings bond and prize ribbon, and enjoy the satisfaction of seeing their work displayed both online and at two Valley locations — the Memorial Union at ASU in Tempe and the Student Union at ASU Polytechnic in Mesa.

The exhibits, being held Jan 18-31, are free and open to the public. They’re part of a month long celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and legacy.

Other January events that are part of ASU’s celebration of MLK, Jr. Day include a march, a reenactment of MLK’s “I have a dream…” speech, a food drive, a film screening, a theater performance and a poetry jam. (Click here for event details/locations.)

Justice poster by a Gilbert senior named Amanda

Each sounds plenty inspiring, though I find the greatest meaning in simply enjoying the words and pictures of students who recognize the importance of justice, service and lifelong learning to the ongoing march towards greater civil and human rights for all people.

Many of the elementary school winners, including 2nd grader Miriah, live in Mesa.

Miriah wrote about a friend named Stephanie — who delights in giving free haircuts to those in need, including homeless people in her own hometown and people as far away as Africa. “I want to be like Stephanie when I get older,” writes Miriah.

Another 2nd grader, Brooke, wrote about grandparents and other family members who assemble “hygiene kits” for people effected by natural disasters, while a 2nd grader named Brady wrote of a grandfather who collects “coloring books, balls, food and toys” for children in Mexico.

“My dad,” writes 4th grader Annie, “is the best example of service I know. His name is Dad.” Annie says that her dad “volunteers for all sorts of things.” Annie’s essay describes how her dad spends his time — “and its not watching television.”

A 5th grader named Jenah wrote an essay praising a coach named Kyle. She describes him as “a kind, amusing, elated, brave man.” “Whenever I am with him,” writes Jenah, “I learn something new.”

Another 5th grader, Tanner, wrote about his grandfather picking up trash each day as he takes a walk through the neighborhood — and his grandmother sewing “very, very big quilts” for those who need them.

Abigail, a 6th grader, wrote about her 20-year-old sister — detailing Sam’s work with Best Buddies, Locks of Love and other programs that help Valley youth. Abigail notes that despite Sam’s busy schedule, “she can always take me to my classes and my plans.”

Many of the middle and high school students who won hail from Scottsdale, including a 7th grader named Sanket who wrote about Dave, a man who often reads to children and tells them stories.

Rachel, an 8th grade student, wrote about her father’s work with organizations like Make-a-Wish and Parents of Murdered Children. “I believe what my dad does to help people…makes the world a better place.”

A 10th grader, also named Rachel, detailed the work of a doctor who organized people to help victims of last year’s earthquake in Haiti after years of working with “disabled adults” in that country. 

She writes as well of the importance of education – “I feel that in a country where we are so educated, we should take that education to help and teach other countries that don’t have the same opportunities as we have.”

A 1oth grader named Allysan wrote about a family friend in college who raises money to help victims of genocide in Darfur, while 10th grader Ema offered words about her sister that reveal insights into the role of youth in shaping the future…

“The early stages of our life determine who we are,” writes Ema, “and who we are going to be in the years to come.”

“The fate and future of the world,” she adds, “resides with the youth of today.”

– Lynn

Note: Families will one day be able to visit a Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial on the Washington Mall in Washington, D.C. To learn more about the nature and development of this memorial, click here.

Coming up: Local exhibits of children’s art inspired by MLK, Jr. Day

Piglet, Pooh & a bubble bath too!

Winnie the Pooh and friends take to the stage at Fountain Hills Youth Theater through Oct 24 for “Winnie-The-Pooh,” a play based on the stories of A. A. Milne and dramatized by Kristen Sergel.

This is true theater by and for youth. The director, Nick Maddox, is an ASU student. Set designer/hair & make-up designer, Danie Beamish, attends Mesa Community College.

I attended Sunday’s matinee with my daughter Lizabeth, and was delighted to see a nearly full house in which preschoolers appeared to outnumber parents.

The show, just over one hour in length, involves the escapades of Pooh and friends as Kanga and Roo come to town. It seems Kanga is fond of cleanliness, and little Piglet terrified of the tub.

Pooh tries to help, of course, but there’s all that honey to eat and all that time spent floating with a blue balloon. Piglet ends up in Kanga’s tin tub as children marvel at bubbles floating down from the bubble machine above.

Most of Pooh’s friends appear in the Hundred Acre Wood at some point — once the narrator and Christopher Robin (holding his stuffed Pooh bear) set the stage. There’s Owl, Eeyore, Rabbit (with six rabbit children) and Skunk.

We enjoyed Amanda Azzarello’s performance as Kanga — who keeps a bar of soap handy in case someone gets too sassy. Summer Beckman as Roo was bright and energetic, and Patrick Moyse’s Eeyore was ever so good at being gloomy.

Katie Male shined as Owl (her costume was among our favorites) and Devin Derr’s Piglet had that perfect balance of perkiness.

Children in the audience clearly loved the entire cast — laughing most heartily during Pooh’s struggles to “think, think, think” and Eeyore’s moments of melancholy.

We loved the set, which echos the charming drawings of Milne’s stories. Trees in the Hundred Acre Wood feature green paper leaves traced from child-size hands. The detail, and colors, are exceptional.

Both acts begin with charming “Winnie the Pooh” music that sounds like it’s coming from a well-loved vinyl record playing on an old phonograph — evoking a genuine nostalgia for Milne’s stories.

Normally I’m not a fan of preschoolers with cell phones, but I do so wish that just this once they could get ahold of devices that would let them text their friends about this show.

Based on the gleeful squeals and giggles during Sunday’s matinee, I suspect they’d all give it glowing reviews.

– Lynn

Note: Thanks to the “Winnie-The-Pooh” program, we learned about several upcoming events in Fountain Hills — including Friday night “Jazz in the Hills” concerts, Fountain Hills “Chamber Players” concerts, the 2010 “Fountain Festival of the Arts & Crafts” (Nov 12-14) and the 2011 “Fountain Hills Great Fair” (Feb 25-27).

Coming up: Review of Disney’s “Beauty & The Beast” at ASU Gammage