Dancing With Books is a series of innovative early childhood reading programs at the Museum & Theatre that uses theatre, movement and music to help develop young children’s enthusiasm for performing arts and reading while enriching their language skills in a fun and engaging way. Our most recent series was funded by a generous grant from the Sprague Foundation and concluded on May 3 with children from St. Elizabeth’s Child Development Center performing what they had learned for their teachers and families.
Organized and facilitated by Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine’s Theatre Artistic Director Reba Short, this Dancing with Books series featured musician Jim Hall, dancer Hope Hoffman and three stories, Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa by Jeanette Winter, A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry and The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle. St. Elizabeth’s students and teachers explored the featured stories through song and dance in sessions throughout April. And every day St. Elizabeth’s had a session, the artists would offer an additional one to Museum visitors! During the sessions, children read the books and learned to dance like a seed or tree and sang songs using vocabulary from the stories.
Teachers at St. Elizabeth’s have also benefited from this program. From attending the sessions with their students, they learned new ways to teach literacy through the arts, such as creating rhythms, singing vocabulary words, using body movement to make shapes of letters and words and telling interactive stories with props and puppets.
We hope that Dancing with Books will continue to inspire children to see the connection between the performing arts and literature and develop a life-long interest in not just reading, but music and movement as well.
Coming up in June will be Dancing with Books: Alphabet Dance! Children will use the letters of the alphabet to make fun shapes with their bodies. They will learn movements for each letter and create dances by spelling things out! Click here for dates and times. Dancing with Books will continue in the fall with a grant from the Beim Foundation and support from People’s United Community Foundation.