Video Blog: Recycled & Altered Books

You’ll never believe what you can do with old books!
Diem Dangers will lead you on an amazing journey, transforming old books into stunningly beautiful and meaningful visual journals…

Next offered:
“Recycled Books” with Diem Dangers
Fall, 2012:  4 Tuesdays, 3:00-4:30pm, ages 11-16
You can register online
or call the Arlington Center for the Arts (781) 648-6220

“Wizzards of Their Own Futures” – ACA’s littlest campers get magical at arts camp for pre-schoolers

Cute Alert…!  Art teacher and guest blogger Diem Dangers gives us a peek into the “Young at Art” room during Magic Week at ACA Summer Arts Camp.  Our littlest campers (ages 4-5) had a blast making magic hats, crystal balls, and thinking all about magic!

Diem Dangers (standing) leads the Young at Art pre-K camper in a magical week of art-making and creative fun!

Crystal Ball Project
The purpose of the crystal ball project was to allow the students to think about how to express the future visually. Over

Story Time during Young at Art – firing up the campers’ imaginations with tales of wizards and magic!

the course of the week, we read about magic and wizardry in a variety of storybooks such as: Anton Does Magic, The Magic Raincoat, The Magic Toolbox, Word Wizard, The Magic Babushka, The Dream Jar, Possum Magic, and The Wizard. We also sang “Down By the Castle” (an adaptation of “Down By the Sea” with lyrics that related to the magic theme of this week’s class) with Alex Fenn, our music teacher. We used these stories and songs to inspire conversations about what magic means, what crystal balls are and how they can reveal the future. The students were then asked to create their own crystal ball that would show what would happen in their future.

A magic crystal ball in the making…

It was a fun open-ended exploratory project, giving the little artists plenty of fun textures to play around with and discover including: glitter, felt, construction paper, pipe cleaners, paint, fuzzy woolen balls, crayons, paint, and cut-out photos from magazines for collage. As the week progressed, we also explored adding little pop-out windows to add extra depth and new dimensions to the piece. The students used these little pop-out windows to create entryways to secret passages to the future, and to cover up secret hidden treasures.

I loved how each student produced something totally unique, each interpreting the assignment in their own special way.

Young at Art campers in action, working on their Crystal Ball projects.

Some did landscapes of the future, others did visual stories of their daily lives in the future and their expected careers, others captured futuristic people they would meet. Some did a complex collage of various people, places and objects capturing various different people, times and spaces into one whole. Some kept within the confines of the “crystal ball”, others chose to “think outside the box” allowing their imaginations to wonder all over the page. I was surprised and impressed by such creative, unusual and unexpected arrangements of colors, objects and textures! They certainly have my enthusiastic support for this kind of exploration! After all, the value of creating art comes from what they learn through the exploratory process as much as it does making an end product.

During music time with music teacher Alex Fenn, the kids sang songs about magic, and made some special musical magic of their own, playing with percussion instruments

As an art teacher, I see myself as someone who creates conditions that inspires students to come up with their own ideas for making art that has meaning for them.  I like art projects that stimulate student’s imaginations, encouraging them to think independently for themselves about what they are creating and expressing. For me, children’s art is as valuable in and of itself, and is not to be compared to adult art or considered of lesser developmental quality.


One young camper with his finished Crystal Ball project

At the end of the week, students had the opportunity to share their crystal balls with the rest of the class. I see my students as fellow artists, and take them seriously when they describe their pieces and what they are expressing. I was so impressed by the students’ willingness to explain what their art meant to them, ask questions of others, and engage in conversation with each other. In the process of participating in this activity, they had the opportunity to define what their art meant to them. They were understanding of how different colors, textures and shapes can be used to visually represent the future.

Here is a short video of Emil describing his crystal ball and answering classmates’ questions about it.

Wizard Hats.

Towards the end of the week, we made wizard hats covered in traditional stars and moons and other creative designs. The wizard hats gave the whole Show-and-Tell activity a theatrical feel and added to the magic of the crystal balls. The little artists presented their piece not just as themselves, but as themselves as wizards of their own futures!

Show and Tell time, when each camper presented their crystal ball project, with everyone wearing their magic hats!


More Photos!
See more photos from our week, in our online slideshow.

More info:
for more information about ACA’s Young at Art program, visit our website.

Drama Camp Diary

Ever wonder what it’s like at Drama Camp?  To be thrown together with a bunch of new kids, and put on a play together in just TWO weeks?  And not just any play – but SHAKESPEARE?!!

We asked our campers to keep a “DRAMA DIARY”  – to share their experiences as they prepared to present “A Midsummer’s Night at the Museum,” an original mash-up of some of Shakespeare’s best-known comedies, written by ACA drama teacher Jen Davis.

So, without further ado, and in their own words, we present ACA’s Drama Campers…

“I love drama camp!  It’s great, you get to do awesome plays, play super fun improv games, and do creative art projects.  ACA is an awesome camp and it brings out your inner artist, whether it’s musical, dramatic or artistic!”

— Fiona

Having fun with Shakespeare, swords, and pantaloons...!

“This is my 5th year in drama camp and I’m loving it!  I’m Beatrice (girl in the pink dress in the costume ball) and Sir Toby (boy in black leggings and smock thing).  The improv games here are awesome.  My personal favorites are Squirt, Salute the Director, Monster Museum, World’s Worst, and Where’s Charlie?  Oh, and Bus Stop!  I’ve had a lot of fun in the past week and two days and 3 hours, 50 minutes and a whole lot of seconds!  I love the cast party and it tastes really good! (yum).  On, and I have to wear PANTALOONS!!! Really!”

— April

“Drama camp is really cool.  I LOVE improv games, especially Bus Stop and Salute the Director.  Blocking and rehearsals are fun too, because it feels awesome to be performing and know your lines.  I am sooooo excited for the show!  It’s gonna ROCK!!  I also made a new friend and she’s really cool.  Oh, and pantaloons are NOT cool (or comfortable).”

— Maya

playing improv games up on stage...

“We love the game Squirt!  And other fun games.  I love to do the rehearsals.  Sometimes we play the last round of Squirt and 2 people would play and one person would tell a story and Jennifer would stand in front of a fan so we would be practicing our projection!”

— Joji

“Hello from Drama – Drama camp is totally awesome, all the games are really fun like Squirt and Museum Guard.  Blocking and Performing are also great.  I play Kid 2, who has a little sense of what’s happening.  This is going to be really fun!”

— Ben

Playing Taxi...!

“I really like the Drama Camp.  You get to do a bigger play than the other groups in the [regular arts camp].  Everyone always gets a part.  I like all the improv games we get to do.  I like Taxi and Bus Stop best.  I also like the three room game.”

— Olivia

“I had so much fun at drama but my favorite thing to do is rehearse!  I play Ms. Miranda.  My favorite part of playing her is I get soaked at the end! ”

— Anja

“Drama Rocks!  ACA is so much fun with lots of games and meeting new friends.  We played games like Squirt, Bus Stop, Taxi, World’s Worst, Salute the Director, Alien, and Where’s Charlie.  Everybody here is very nice!  My counselors were Alie and Allana, Eliza and Alex.  Drama Camp is awesome!”

— Joji

“ACA is great!  It passed by so quickly!  I can’t believe that it is almost showtime!  It’s going to be great!”

— Evelyn

“I’ve had a great time and I just want to say this Drama Camp is awesome.  I’d certainly like to do it again.”

— Cameron

working together on our costumes for the show...!

“We just finished a great day!  We blocked scenes, played improv games, worked on costumes, and finished art projects – it was a very productive day!”

— Evelyn

“Out of everything in these two weeks of Drama Camp, I would have to say my favorite thing was getting to know my character Scarlet.  I loved finding out what her personality was and then bringing Scarlet to life on stage.  I taught people fun improv games like Where’s Charlie and Alien, both of the games get you ready to act on stage – Alien gets you pumped up, and Where’s Charlie helps your acting skills.  Drama was great at ACA, everybody was nice and supportive.  DRAMA CAMP ROCKS!”

— Evie

“I am honored to be welcomed into the Drama group.  And I like playing games: Bus Stop, World’s Worst, Salute the Director, Echo, Squirt, etc.  I met a bunch of new friends.  Lunch, snack, and recess are awesome.  I play Benedick and the Fairy Chorus.”

— Lucy

“My favorite part of being here is all the games we play and meeting new friends.  I also love Drama Camp because we get to perform a play and have fun.  In the play I’m in the Fairy Chorus.  It’s really fun!”

— Jenny

“I’m very sad I can’t come back next year, but maybe I’ll be a C.I.T. and work with the Drama Camp.  I had lots of fun at Drama Camp.”

— Flava

“I play June in the play.  I like playing improv games.  My favorite part of being June is being the only practical kid. I really liked finding out our parts and seeing the costumes come together.”

— Laura

working on sword-fighting skills...

“ACA Rocks!  2 days until the show.  Sword fighting is awesome!  Main characters are Puck, Parris, Luke, Scarlet and June.  Cast party after!! Awesomeness!!!  I hope the show is awesome – what am I saying?  It will be!  Go Drama Camp!”

— April

“Dear ACA, just in case you want to know, I’m Witch 1 and Sir Andrew.  I loved playing improv games and Squirt was probably my favorite.  All the costumes are really cool!  I liked getting to know my character and getting to know my fellow campers.  Acting like people (or things) that I’m not is really fun and interesting.  Also playing improv games can bring out your inner actor!  From memorizing lines, to playing improv games or just being in your costume, they are all really great!”

— Fiona

“Dear Peeps, I love ACA!!!  It is full of awesome activities!  If you like art, drama, music, and fun stuff, this is the place for you!!”

— Ava

Want to see more from Drama Camp?  Check out our “Midsummer’s Night at the Museum” Slideshow for more photos from the production and all kinds of behind the scenes action!

“Being a CIT is an AMAZING experience….”

Last week, we asked our Counselors-in-Training to share some thoughts about what it’s like to be a CIT at ACA’s Summer Arts Camp.

CITs with a group art project during "Carnival of the Animals" week.

At ages 11-14, CITs are little too old for a “kids” camp, but a little too young for summer jobs.  As CITs at ACA, these young teens try their wings working with younger campers in the classrooms, create amazing collaborative art projects as a group, and take field trips each week to destinations such as the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Decordova Sculpture Park.

Here’s a little bit of what they said about being a CIT at ACA:

Josie, CIT, age 12

“Being a CIT is an AMAZING experience,” said Josie, age 12. “It is so much fun working with kids of all different ages. It is different working with all of the different age groups too. With the little kids you really have to help them and show them how to do things. With the older kids you can really relate to them and talk about things you have in common. But being a CIT isn’t just hard work. There is also some down time where you can hang out with your new “besties” that you made that week. The teachers are fun and Brian always makes us laugh with his crazy antics and hilarious stories. All in all, I love being a CIT and I can’t wait to come back the other weeks I am here.”

Amber, CIT, age 13

“I really like the field trips we go on,” said Amber, age 13. “The teachers always bring us somewhere fun and we learn about famous artists. It’s always so interesting taking the bus or the train on the way there because you can hang and talk with your friends and sometimes play games on the subway. This week we went to the DeCordova and Brian prepared a scavenger hunt for us. We got some REALLY awesome prizes at the end. After field trips, we all go out for ice cream and just chill. I absolutely love the field trips here and can’t wait for the next one!”

CIT Field Trip & Scavenger Hunt at the Decordova Sculpture Park: See the Slideshow

Rayna, CIT, age 12

“Being a CIT is a big responsibility but an even bigger privilege,” said Rayna, age 12. “You get to work with amazing kids, hang with our teachers Brian and Jennaway, and make friends around your age who like the same kind of things. I know it kinda stinks that you don’t get paid for helping out with “the little ones,”* but the camp makes up for it with all the amazing experiences that you have here. The kids are just so fun to work with; you get to learn with them and teach them and just hang with them. When you are a CIT they sometimes idolize you. It’s great for self-esteem. Brian and Jennaway are hilarious; they can always make you laugh. You make friends here that you would probably never know if you hadn’t gone to this camp. You meet great and very artistic people here, and you won’t regret your time here. Your summer can only get better if you come to the CIT camp. I know it sounds cheesy, but hey, it’s 100% true.”

CITs are artists, too!  See their giant funhouse faceboards from last week’s “Quirky Circus” Camp

* Education Director’s Note: while participating in the CIT program does not guarantee you’ll be hired as a counselor at ACA, you’ll be gaining skills and knowledge that are a great asset in applying for a paid counselor job after the age of 15.  Many of our ACA counselors got their start as CITs.

CITs Visit Chihuly Exhibit at the MFA

CITs visiting the Chihuly exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Summer 2011

Last week, ACA’s Counselors in Training (CITs) took a field trip to see the Chihuly Exhibit at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, and we asked them to share some of their thoughts and impressions on “Chihuly: Through the Looking Glass.”  We think you’ll be impressed by their observations…!

Rebecca (right) at the Chihuly exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts

“When I look at Chihuly’s work,” said Rebecca, age 13, “I feel like I’m part of his picture, part of the sculpture. Maybe that’s what he tries to do. He uses bright, shimmering colors and extravagant, intricate designs to make something almost unreal. I liked how he made each piece so that the light would shine through it, and make it almost glow. We saw a boat filled with abstract glass shapes and colors that spilled over the sides which made me think about what it must take to make something like that. There were gardens of glass that displayed the colors of the rainbow. There were rooms where the ceiling was covered in small glass figurines so when the light from the bulbs were lit up, the room would be filled with colorful light. It was amazing. These were sculptures that you can’t stop looking at, that don’t make sense, but still keep you staring. Magic. I didn’t know anything could look that beautiful, but it can.”

Rebecca, age 13, ACA Counselor in Training

Clara (left) basking in the glow of Chihuly...

“This Thursday, we visited the MFA – the museum of fine art,” Said CIT Clara, age 12. “I’ve always envisioned ‘Fine Art’ as a two-dimensional piece, such as a painting or a drawing. I also automatically assumed that to be considered fine art, the art had to be older; done by famous artists like Monet, or Vermeer. But the Chihuly exhibit caused me to completely change my mind set about art as a whole.

“I’ve seen glass blowing before, but never in this fashion. The colors and unique shapes were stunning. I could not believe my eyes – I had had absolutely no idea how much could be done with glass.  And I was inspired by the artist’s dedication – after a huge setback, he just changed his approach and continued working.

“But what I really enjoyed about the field trip was that the art was not only beautiful visually – it was thought-provoking. It was engaging to just sit and stare into the art, because it aroused so many memories and thoughts in my head. And now, I realize what fine art really is – art that makes you think.”

 Clara, age 12, ACA Counselor in Training

Want to see more? 
See the complete slideshow of the CIT field trip.

Drama Camp presents “The Golden Fleece”

Some things are too cute not to share…!

Last week the kids in our youngest drama camp (grades 1-2) presented a musical version of “The Golden Fleece” directed by Liz Buchanan.

Here they are during dress rehearsal, singing their favorite song “Speed Bonnie Boat” (a variation on the traditional Scottish “Skye Boat Song” with new words for this show, by Liz).

Fair warning: you may find yourself humming this tune for a while…!

The Hinhoona Bill of Rights

The Hinhoona Bill of Rights…
and other revelations from “Stars and Stripes” week

taking a peek inside arts camp @ ACA

Pinezopia Banner

Members of the Pines group with a banner of flags for their new state, "Pinezopia."

So, with last week’s camp theme of “Stars and Stripes,” ACA campers became the founding fathers and mothers of the 51st, 52nd, 53rd and 54th new states of the union in Drama classes with Alec Beekmans.

In a living example of participatory democracy in action, each group of campers decided on a name for their new state, designed their state flag, and composed their state’s bill of rights and necessities.

Willows flag presentation

The Willows group present and consider each camper's flag design for their new state of "Kroobs."

So, we introduce you to the four newest states of our union, with the statements of rights and necessities composed by the kids…

The Willows group (5 years old) founded the new state of Kroobs.  Their bill of rights and necessities says:  “Please treat all living creatures with respect.”

The Maples group (6 years old) founded the new state of Sinkadink.   In Sinkadink:  1. All nature and animals are protected.  2. All citizens will share natural resources.

The Oaks group (7 & 8 years old) founded the state of Hinhoona.  Citizens of Hinhoona share:  1.The right to go where you want to go; 2. The right to interrupt the speaker if it’s important; 3. The right to bring back items from other states as long as they are safe.

The Pines group (9-11 years old) founded the state of Pinezopia.  Their Bill of Rights states: 1. Every living thing has the right to make their own decisions; 2. No harming animals; 3. Every citizen gets one four-day weekend a month; 4. Everyone should plant one pine tree in an appropriate place every year; 5. You can only cut down trees when absolutely necessary.

At the end of the week, the kids marched in an old-fashioned 4th of July parade around the arts center, wearing hats and waving flags and giant pinwheels they created during the week.  The parade ended on the ACA stage, where the groups showed off the juggling skills they learned in circus arts class, and concluded with the presentation of their newly-founded states.

Long live Hinhoona!
(and Kroobs, Sinkadink, and Pinezopia)

Outside/Inside Boston Buildings

Outside/Inside Boston Buildings
first in a series peeking inside the classrooms to see our young artists at work!

“Urban Adventures” was our theme during week #1 of summer vacation arts 2010.  Kids in Kaetlyn Wilcox’s groups created fold-out “outside/inside” posters using detailed drawing and paper cutting.

Their projects are fold-out architectural masterpieces!

Kaetlyn says: “The purpose of this project was for the kids to think about the form and function of specific city landmarks through careful observation.  We also dabbled in a little bit of perspective.  The kids looked at photographs of familiar Boston buildings and thought about the proportions, shapes and details that give a specific building its character.  They also learned about the function of their chosen buildings.  Finally, the kids created detailed, wild and crazy imagined interiors for their buildings.”
Here’s just one great example…


for more scenes from our “Urban Adventures” week, check out our slideshow, here: