Recap of 2013

Phew! 2013 was quite the busy year for The Art Spark.

We worked harder than ever and here are a few highlights. We…
…created Spark Starters with the help of our designer, Kate Otte. Spark Starters are unique art kits with a book written by Jacquelyn Graff and Emily Otte. The book “Get Inspired” is question-based, calling upon each students’ knowledge to create original artworks.
…sold Spark Starters at a number of events and stores throughout the city. We sold our kits at The Oakley Flea, Night Owl Market, & Bagels and Boutiques. The kits are also offered for purchase in the following locations.
…hosted more birthday parties than ever before. We were booked most weekends of 2013 with birthday parties. Some of the themes children created included: Down on the Farm, Angry Birds, The Mystery of the Missing Birthday Cake, Superheros, Rainbows and Unicorns, Monkeys, and more!
…hosted over 200 Campers for Summer Camp. Each year our camp enrollment has increased dramatically and this year was no different! Maybe it’s the fact that each year brings new, unique ideas and projects to the table? Maybe it’s the environment we build as a team?
…brought our after school program to Sacred Heart School.  We are always looking for schools in need of art programs, and Sacred Heart has been a great fit for The Art Spark.  Children are excited to learn and grow as they develop new techniques in art, as well as learn how to work together as a team.
…partnered with IKEA, to offer FREE crafts one Saturday each month. What better way to market than to work with a store that knows the value of art for children at all ages? We feel very lucky to have the opportunity to offer wonderful crafts and projects to the public for FREE one day each month.  If your child has been missing The Art Spark, but his/her schedule has been too busy to join a class, then simply check our IKEA craft dates!
…began customizing events for corporations.  When GE contacted us to build a winter wonderland for over 600 children to ignite imagination for their annual day with Santa, it felt like a dream come true. There is nothing The Art Spark loves more than creating environments for children to engage in.  When children play in our environments they use their imagination which helps them to stimulate cognitive skills, communication skills, speech, problem solving skills, and more. For a clearer understanding of the importance of play and imagination refer to this article: “The Need for Pretend Play in Child Development.” Here is a quote from the article that particularly resounds with why The Art Spark teaches and plays the way we do:

The research reviewed by Berk, Mann & Ogan, (2006) and Hirsh-Pasek, Golinkoff, Berk, & Singer (2009) suggest that make-believe games are forerunners of the important capacity for forms of self-regulation including reduced aggression, delay of gratification, civility, and empathy. When children use toys to  introduce possible scenarios or friends, the representation of multiple perspectives occurs naturally. Taking on different roles allows children the unique opportunity to learn social skills such as communication, problem solving, and empathy (Hughes, 1999).

An important  benefit of early pretend play may be its enhancement of the child’s capacity for cognitive flexibility and, ultimately, creativity (Russ, 2004; Singer & Singer, 2005). Russ, for example, in longitudinal  studies, found that early imaginative play was associated with increased creative performance years later (Russ, 2004; Russ, & Fiorelli,  2010). Root-Bernstein’s research with clearly creative individuals such as Nobel Prize winners and MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant  awardees, indicated  that early childhood  games about make-believe worlds were more frequent in such individuals than in control participants in their fields (Root-Bernstein, 2012).

I got a little carried away, back to what we did in 2013…
...hosted 70 campers for Winter Camp. During winter break (which has been indefinitely extended due to the subzero temperatures…) we offered 3 camps for children to ignite imagination. All but one filled to capacity. During these camps we realized just how much we can let the kids’ ideas rule camp.  We allowed the children to brainstorm ideas and search the studio to find the most effective tools for each project.  With our questions and guidance their ideas blossomed!

...brought back our Mama and Me Class. It’s about time too! If you have a 2 year old who is naturally curious who would like to paint with pudding, practice fine motor skills, and begin to piece together the puzzle of life, then consider signing up for Mama and Me!

We did a lot throughout the year! (Too much to list!) Miss Jacquelyn and Miss Emily also each did a number of things outside The Art Spark including: saving kittens, the INSANITY workout, create personal art, learn the ukulele, half marathons, weddings, and more! Here’s to an even better 2014! Thanks for joining us on this amazing adventure that is life.

Miss Emily