Courtesy Zoe Zimmerman

Amber Vasquez Thomas in elemental motion.

Twirl, a Play and Discovery Space, is collaborating with Taos Center for the Arts (TCA) to host three live Zoom workshops in April guiding children to explore ideas around geology and their view of the Earth's movements.

Twirl educator Amber Thomas said she came up with the concept "based on a Twirl program called Wordplay. It is a free in-school early literacy program that combines literacy skills with dance, music and art components. When creating the lessons, I always start with the literary elements and then build from there. I ask, 'How can all these aspects bring a story to life and inspire creativity to make learning fun?'

"I would love to create an extended art investigation into each of the earth's elements because there is so much to be explored and young students are so interested in learning," Thomas explained. "The TCA Movement Exhibit spoke to my soul as a Twirl early childhood educator. Children love moving, playing, and creativity. It helps them make sense of the world around them. These workshops will not only introduce children to the geological concepts the older students may explore, but, in regular Twirl fashion, they will include play, creativity and family engagement, bringing our community together through creative expression."

Tempo caught up with Thomas and asked a few questions about the Twirl exploration. Here are her edited responses.

Please describe your process coming up with the three exercises.

The three exercises are: 'Wind: Gentle enough to help a spider build a web; powerful enough to move mountains. Water: Splash, drip, flow ... water carries life in every drop. Earth: It moves us, we move it. What will you create with natural materials?'

Twirl has created 30 free project kits for each session. The kits contain all the materials needed to make each art project. But the kit is not required; families can find a materials list for each project and make their own kits, too. Where? The earth project kit contains-- you guessed it--actual earth! We will create sculptures using sand, rocks and anything else we find outside during our virtual session. The Earth session is the same time as Earth Day and so is focused on creating art with natural resources.

How will the exercises you present, challenge children's assumptions about the earth's movements?

Have you ever explained water without using spoken words? Have you ever thought of the force of the wind as a color? What does the earth sound like when it's waking up in the spring? I will ask the children to explore each element with all their senses. I will ask them to dance, sing, read, look at art and, of course, create. Each art project is a process-based journey of discovery which means the art is about the process, not the end product. Young artists will have to make predictions, make choices, and create a work of art that is their own artistic exploration.

Anything else our readership needs to know, or you'd like to share?

Not only does arts-integrated teaching tap into a child's natural desire to learn through exploration and movement, but the arts and the natural world also go hand in hand. Water, wind, and the earth's movement are all working in a merry dance together. Twirl had the opportunity this month to present a workshop to Albuquerque early childhood teachers on how to engage with the natural environment through art and movement. It thrills us to run parts of this curriculum in our community.

Here is the current Zoom live lineup dates and times:

Water - Splash, drip, flow ... Water carries life in every drop. Saturday, April 10, 10:30 am.

Wind - Gentle enough to help a spider build a web! Powerful enough to move mountains. Saturday, April 17, 10:30 am.

Earth - It moves us, we move it, what will you create with natural materials? Saturday, April 24, 10:30 am.

The workshops are open to all and will run between 30 and 45 minutes. Art packets will be available for pickup from Twirl, 225 Camino de la Placita and TCA, 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte.

For more information about the program go to the Twirl website, twirltaos.org or TCA's website tcataos.org.

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