Monday, November 16, 2015

New Programs: When It All Comes Together

Last Thursday and Friday, the Spurlock Museum piloted a new program for first graders in the Champaign School District. The program complements the district's "Celebrations around the World" unit and introduces the students to celebrations not covered in the classroom. 

The program covers 3 areas of the world.  In the American Indian Cultures Gallery, the students are introduced to the powwow. They watch videos of the grass dance and jingle dress dance, discuss the regalia worn by the dancers, and learn about the drum--the heartbeat of the dances. They also do a regalia seek-and-find game. In the European Cultures Gallery, the students celebrate a birthday in England. They each get a piece of pretend cake that has the picture of a charm on it.  The charms are used to predict the child's future (e.g., a ring means the person will be happily married). After the cake, the students play a game called "Tray," where they get a short look at a tray covered in various small objects, then the tray is hidden and the children try to remember everything they saw.  In the Asian Cultures Gallery, the children are greeted by a hina matsuri, a set of dolls and furniture representing the upper class of Japanese Heian culture (794–1185 CE). This set is brought out in honor of Girl's Day each year.  The boys are not forgotten, though, as the program includes bringing out the carp kites (windsocks) that are flown outside of the house on Children's Day (originally Boy's Day).

Putting the program together started with a meeting with Kristen Morris, Teaching and Learning Coordinator for the Unit 4 Schools. She brought us all the lesson plans and supplementary materials used in the classroom unit, so that we would know what was already covered, and she served as a coordinator with the first grade teachers once the program features and available dates were set. Working with district staff is incredibly helpful and appreciated. Things go so much more smoothly. 

Three members of the Education staff each took charge of creating the activities for one of the galleries, and together the staff worked out the logistics of group flow around the building and timing for each of the parts. As our Education staff is short one person this fall, we have fewer people to lead tours, so we talked to Kristen about trying something we had never done before: having a guided program where the classroom teacher guided one of the parts. For the Celebrations tour, the teachers were sent detailed instructions for leading the birthday party activities.  They all seemed to have a wonderful time "predicting" their students' future and playing the "Tray" game.  Some of them even found a way to link the game to activities they were doing in math. 

At the end of each day, everyone was smiling--celebrating the success of the pilot tours. Even when a problem appeared (for example, one of the trays was knocked off the table and broken), things were taken care of in stride. Being flexible and thinking on the fly is just part of the job.  We are eager to get back the evaluations that were sent to the teachers so we can find ways to make the experience even better.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

"Coffee and Tea: Cups and Dessert"
Benefit for Giertz Gallery at Parkland College
Take home a handcrafted cup, enjoy delicious food and beverages, traditional Irish music, and silent auction!

Select from among a stunning array of handcrafted ceramic cups and enjoy music and bakery-fresh desserts during “Coffee and Tea: Cups and Dessert,” Giertz Gallery’s biennial fundraiser scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 3 from 4 to 7 p.m. in the gallery lounge at Parkland College.

Ticket includes selecting a beautiful handmade ceramic cup generously donated by Parkland College Ceramics program faculty and students. The benefit features delicious desserts baked fresh by the Parkland College Hospitality program, hot tea and freshly brewed coffee provided by Columbia Street Roastery, and traditional Irish music by Fair Play.

Perfect for holiday gifts (or for yourself), a silent auction rounds out the event’s festivities. Guests may place bids on various artworks donated by students and teachers of the Art and Design program. These works of art include vases, bowls, teapots, handmade jewelry, and a photograph donated by Craig McMonigal.

Tickets to the gallery benefit are $30 or two for $50, with advanced purchase recommended; cups will be chosen on a first come, first serve basis. To purchase tickets, please contact the Giertz Gallery office at 217/351-2485, visit our website at or stop by the Giertz Gallery. Many of the silent auction pieces may be viewed ahead of time on the Giertz Gallery website. All proceeds will support the Giertz Gallery.