The biggest drawback to our after-school Kid’s Project is that kids don’t want to leave when their parents show up to take them home! Part of that reason is the excellent staff from Chicago Danz Theatre Ensemble (CDE) who run the program.
Meet Naomi Flores, a teaching artist with CDE since 2017. She has a bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Interactive Design from Syracuse University. She’s worked at several schools in the Chicago area, but primarily teaches at The Children’s School’s Kid’s Project.
Naomi describes typical activities you might find during this innovative after-school-care program:
“In addition to a daily check-in to talk about our school day, a snack, and ample time for free play, we work on several fun art and theater projects throughout the year. For example, this fall, we had fun creating outfits, costumes and characters. Thanks to a wonderful donor this summer, we had lots of corrugated cardboard to use to make our costumes larger than life. We started by creating large wings. Our students went on to create crowns, masks, and capes by drawing designs on, cutting, and decorating the cardboard. They often helped each other and were able to work in groups to achieve a certain look.”
“Every Thursday, Kid’s Project runs a theatre workshop called Playmakers. It’s headed by teaching artist, Kristin, and created by our fearless leader Ellyzabeth Adler. Initially the workshop focused on theatre exercises. This December, our work culminated in the Kid’s Project show last Fall! The story of our show took place in NYC Central Park, where the animals that live there run into all sorts of dilemmas! For the most part, the students had the lead voice in the project. It was really fun to see them so motivated.”
Naomi also has her own artist practice and is growing as a printmaker and in making “zines.” Zines are independently made magazines that can be made by one artist or in collaboration with several artists. “At Kid’s Project, my co-teacher Moni Luna (also a practicing printmaker) and I decided to teach the kids more about printmaking and how make zines,” says Naomi. “They were able to put whatever they wanted in the pages of their zines and decorate the outside of their books with corrugated cardboard, hot-glued beads, feathers, and other colorful decorations.”
The Kid’s Project welcomes a wide age range -- from kindergarten to eighth grade. “We facilitate our older students to help the younger students, and include everyone in the projects appropriately,” says Naomi. “As part of our mission here at CDE we’re committed to ensuring that students are learning to work together. We are mindful of providing a fun environment, but also a supportive and safe space for everyone.”
The combination of free play, creative projects, and socio-emotional learning makes Kid’s Project a great after school option for many TCS families. But watch out – your child may balk at going home (especially on Open Gym Fridays)!