It has been an interesting two months in this new look of education that we are experiencing. Whether as educators, as parents, or both, there have been a lot of challenges faced in the work that we do and in our strive to find balance and ways to keep the learning going and meaningful activities to engage in.

As a language teacher, I try to find unique learning opportunities for my students that help them to connect more with the culture of the language that they are learning. As a teacher of the arts, I want to bring in as many other resources as I can help to connect students with real-world experiences, spark curiosity for learning, perhaps help them to find something that they are passionate about and want to explore on their own.

Over the past two months, there have been many questions about how to engage students in activities in special content areas or provide activities for enrichment such as for the arts, music, or sports, to name a few. What can we do to supplement our instruction that connects students with real-world examples and helps them to navigate through this unprecedented time in our world?

Finding opportunities

There are so many possibilities out there, with educators and other professionals sharing resources and giving their time to create learning opportunities for students and teachers. I’ve seen questions posted on social media and in educator communities looking for ideas to keep students active, engaged, others looking to learn about art, music, photography, dance, or exercise. How can we bring the world of learning into our homes during this remote learning time?

Having these choices at a time like this is good for breaking away from our work and learning. It can force us to disconnect and discover a new hobby, pique an interest, unveil a passion that we might have, or a talent that we didn’t know existed. Businesses like these, music and dance instructors, photographers, interior designers, art galleries, are helping everyone to get through what we are experiencing during the pandemic. My students are telling me that they are taking music and dance lessons, practicing for school musicals, even doing yoga and fitness, through the use of Zoom and other live streaming tools.

What are the online art, music, and creative endeavors available to us during the pandemic? Here are some interesting opportunities that I found that are definitely worth exploring with our students and our families:

  1. Academy Art. For those interested in learning more about art, sketching, and different software programs available for art creation, The Academy of Art University is offering a series of free online events. During these online events, there will be sessions with guest experts who are speaking about art and design, provided through Zoom meetings. They will also provide virtual workshops on how to use various software programs for art.
  2. ArtsQuest ArtSmart. The ArtsQuest provides activities for learning about mosaics, and since it started in March, it has featured more than 300 events including music, comedy, and more. It started by offering online learning projects for the Bethlehem Area School District in PA, focused on comedy, dance, literary and visual arts. Themes include. Comedy Monday, Stay creative Tuesday, Keep moving Wednesday, Creative writing Thursday.
  3. Center for Arts-Inspired Learning (CAL) has designed the ArtWorks 15-day Challenge, for students K-12 through an online, at-home arts program. To help support families and schools, through the #ArtWorksChallenge kids have options that promote creativity and are also a fun way to explore different topics while at home. There are resources for teachers and families during remote learning, and you just need to download an ArtWorks Challenge Activity Packet. There are challenges for music, math, STEM, family, community, art, emotions, leadership, and gratitude.
  4. Cosmourse. A combo of “Cosmos” and “Course,” is a London based company that has been offering daily live-streamed classes for children ages 3-14 interested in art. The classes are provided through Zoom and a list of materials are provided for each age group of children with guidelines. Children learn about art styles, techniques, and even different art movements.
  5. Draw With Drew. Adobe and Time Magazine will be offering a weekly art lesson at 10 am. PT. Drew Willis, a book illustrator and the creative director of “Time for Kids” and his ten-year-old daughter Rosie will be presenting the “Draw with Drew (and Rosie!)” For each episode, they will have a new drawing assignment and when the episode is finished, participants can vote on what the next assignment will be.
  6. Nassau Museum. Art activities for all ages and many which are for outdoors, a great way to be more active in learning and make time to disconnect and for creative expression and self-care.
  7. Online art classes. Many videos and links are available to learn different art styles and to even enjoy the original episodes of Bob Ross, for anyone who has missed them. A few weeks back, there was a #BobRossChallenge happening on Twitter, with people using different digital tools to create their own Bob Ross style painting. I chose to use Buncee to recreate something in the style of Bob Ross.

Finding ways to engage students and also to explore new activities that can help to not only get through the challenging time but can spark new interests and curiosities is important. Beyond creating works of art, these opportunities benefit our well-being and are great opportunities to focus on self-care.

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