Innovative Program Brings Arts Integration to Early Childhood Education in Baltimore

Baby Artsplay!™ provides multi-sensory learning at Judy Centers with funding from Saul Zaentz Foundation

BALTIMORE – Beginning this month, hundreds of Baltimore’s youngest children, their families, care providers, and educators will engage in hands-on, arts-integrated programs at five Baltimore City Public School Judy Centers that support early childhood education and expand kindergarten readiness. This innovative new initiative is being offered by the local nonprofit, Young Audiences of Maryland.

Baby Artsplay!™, a nationally-renowned program developed by the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, serves infants and toddlers from birth to age three and the family members and educators who play a critical role in their development. Wolf Trap is a nationally respected leader in early childhood education research and programming and is supported by the U.S. Department of Education.

“Research shows that early childhood programs are critical to school readiness and that the arts foster language development as well as social and emotional development, creativity, and self-expression—all of which contribute to school readiness and the long-term success of kids.”

The program’s creative caregiver/child workshops, classroom programs, and professional development for caregivers are led by teaching artists—professional artists who have been trained by Wolf Trap to integrate their art forms into more traditional learning settings.

The launch of Baby Artsplay!™ in Baltimore is funded through a $360,000 grant from the Saul Zaentz Foundation. The program is now offered in several cities including Indianapolis, New Orleans, Fairfax, and Pittsburgh.

Through Young Audiences, Baby Artsplay!™ programming began in October at five Baltimore City Public School Judy Centers and their care provider affiliates. The Judy Centers include: Liberty Judy Center, Moravia Judy Center, Harford Heights Judy Center, Lakeland Judy Center, and the DRU Judy Center at Dorothy I Height Elementary. Judy Centers throughout Maryland provide wrap-around services for early childhood development and parenting support.

Baby Artsplay!™ programming includes:

● Caregiver/Child Workshops: Caregivers and their children work with teaching artists in the performing arts to enhance parenting and playtime techniques by incorporating singing, dancing, drama, and multi-sensory experiences. Teaching Artists guide caregivers as they engage with their children, encouraging mindfulness and intentionality in common parenting practices such as rocking children, singing to them, and more. These free, drop-in workshops also provide tips to continue the approach at home.

● Teaching Artist Residencies: Teaching artists work with teachers and care providers to create arts-integrated experiences in their classrooms that provide social and emotional, empathy-filled learning to children. Teaching Artists guide teachers and care providers in research-based techniques similar to those in parent workshops, all with the goal of aligning joyful learning with children’s developmental needs.

● Professional Development: Pre-K teachers, kindergarten teachers, and care providers convene at Judy Centers for an immersive, three-hour professional development experience to build skills in creative childhood development using research-based arts-integrated approaches.

“Research shows that early childhood programs are critical to school readiness and that the arts foster language development as well as social and emotional development, creativity, and self-expression—all of which contribute to school readiness and the long-term success of kids,” said Stacie Sanders Evans, Young Audiences President & CEO. “We are thrilled that, thanks to the Saul Zaentz Foundation, we can infuse the arts into the development of children in the first years of their lives.”

“Baby Artsplay is an engaging program with a great teacher and is a big draw for our Judy Center families with babies and toddlers,” said Crystal Francis, Director of Early Learning at Baltimore City Public Schools. “Thank you to Young Audiences and the Saul Zaentz Foundation for helping to make this program possible.”

Young Audiences Arts for Learning Maryland

About Young Audiences/Arts for Learning:
Started in Baltimore in 1950, Young Audiences is the nation’s largest arts-in-education provider. As the Maryland affiliate, Young Audiences/Arts for Learning (YA) is devoted to enriching the lives and education of Maryland’s youth through educational and culturally diverse arts programs. Through Young Audiences, professional artists from all disciplines partner with leaders and schools for over 7,000 hands-on arts learning experiences that reach more than 190,000 Maryland students. Young Audiences envisions a Maryland where the arts are valued for their capacity to transform lives, and where every student is immersed in opportunities to imagine, to create, and to realize their full potential.

NRG Creatively Green festival coming to local schools

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Young Audiences has announced two winning schools in the NRG Energy Creatively Green Award competition, sponsored by NRG Energy, Inc.: Chesapeake Public Charter School and Port Towns Elementary School!

Each winning school will host its own NRG Creatively Green Family Arts Festival for its school and community members with services worth up to $7,000. The two-and-a-half hour family arts festivals will consist of a performance by Young Audiences Blues musician Curtis Blues focusing on the importance of protecting the environment; hands‐on art making workshops led by a variety of Young Audiences teaching artists that promote environmental sustainability, from creating plastic monster puppets with old milk jugs to learning about kinetic energy through movement; and a community art‐making project to be played, displayed, or shared during the event. Each school has also garnered the support of a number of community organizations that will also be participating in the festivals.

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Young Audiences artists are hard at work crafting their environment-focused programs for the upcoming festivals.

The festivals will be held in May 2015 but Young Audiences artists are already hard at work creating family fun performances and workshops for the events. Artists recently gathered at the Young Audiences offices to participate in the Irvine Nature Center’s “Artistry of Nature” professional development workshop. Artists learned how to engage children in their environment, and even braved January’s snow and ice to explore the natural world right outside the office.

Congratulations to the winning schools!