Kaleidoscope takes a journey Down Under | SteamboatToday.com

Kaleidoscope takes a journey Down Under

Through the eyes of a child

— Children will explore the intricate details of the land Down Under through the art and humanities in Kaleidoscope’s “Let’s Explore Australia” summer program beginning Monday.

For six two-week sessions, children from first to seventh grade can discover the art of Australian Aborigine printmaking, learn about the animals and geography of Australia, listen to Australian tales and myths, become familiar with the music, create dances to accompany stories and then continue practicing to tell stories in the final session.

Following the first week of every session, children will use their knowledge of Australia to build props, create stories, construct musical instruments and create dances for an end-of-the-program performance at Art-in-the-Park July 14 and 15.

Debbie Young, program director, said Kaleidoscope teachers searched the Web, read books and studied photocopies of various aspects of Australia and its natives.

“Last year I heard someone did Africa, so I followed along with the same theme,” Young said. “There are so many people from Australia. I invite them to come in for an hour and share their knowledge and experience.”

Kaleidoscope is brought to the children in the community by the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, which has taken a “Reggio Emilia” approach, or project approach, to the summer program.

Reggio Emilia is a town in northern Italy where the community unites to see the world through children’s eyes with an in-depth study of one particular topic.

One aspect of the program that attracted the arts council was visual and performing arts.

“It started after World War II. The mothers collected bricks from the war to build a school,” Young said. “They sold a World War II tank to get the money and taught the acceptance of differences in people.”

The community encourages the children to explore, learn and express ideas in various artistic ways with the notion that children have a natural curiosity for the world.

Nancy Kramer, council executive director, said the Reggio Emilia project is new to the community this year.

“It’s the most comprehensive way to teach kids to have an understanding of a medium or discipline of the arts,” Kramer said. “It really gets kids down to the fundamentals.”

Young said rather than the traditional approach of skimming the surface of numerous topics, the Reggio Emilia method allows children to study one topic in detail.

“Children have 100 languages or more that they speak through,” Young said. “We want to open up an avenue so children can find their own language of


Kramer said the name of the program “Kaleidoscope” originated with the concept of an art exploration program that shows the mechanism of different images and tones.

“Kaleidoscope is something like those old-fashioned boxes. They presented all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors,” said Gloria Gossard, a major financial contributor to Kaleidoscope. “This is a mixture of many things to interest youngsters.”

Kaleidoscope started about 15 years ago as the brain child of Stan Whittemore, Lynn Greco and Amy Tumminello, former council directors and staff.

However, the three organizers had no one to fund the program until Gossard came into the picture.

“They took me out to lunch one day and asked if I would fund it,” Gossard said. “I helped get it started and I’ve been with it ever since.”

The idea and details were in place, but the budget was small. With Gossard as the first major financial backer, banks and other local businesses followed in her footsteps to create a program for children during breaks from school.

Kramer said Gossard saw the amount of recreational activities in Steamboat and realized nothing introduced art to children in an educational manner.

“It’s such a good thing for children, especially in a town such as Steamboat Springs in which everyone is entirely sports-minded,” Gossard said.

“Sometimes it’s nice for a child to get an arts council, cultural education.”

Gossard said she intends to continue to fund Kaleidoscope as long as it remains a viable and feasible program for youngsters.

Young said space still is available for Kaleidoscope sessions. Call 879-9008 for more information and to sign up.

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