This past March Chris Cruikshank, Co-Owner of KidzArt,  and her daughter attended the National Art Education Association Convention in New Orleans. Her daughter shares her insights regarding  Steve Prince, New Orleans Native and NAEA Speaker 2015.


Steve Prince grew up in the city of New Orleans, which was built in the swamps of Louisiana in the 1700’s, a full 6 feet below sea level. Driving into the city, cemeteries flank the highway like miniature cities with their spires, crosses and peaked roofs. These enclaves of concrete keep the deceased from being swept away by high waters.


A New Orleans funeral is infused with customs brought from Africa on the slave ships, and these images are central to Prince’s artwork. He sees death not just as a passing of the spirit, but a microcosm of smaller deaths that occur in our daily lives, as well as the gradual deaths that stretch across our lives and plague entire communities, like disease, prejudice and disconnection. Recognizing these deaths is where the power of change lays coiled, and this is precisely where Prince’s creativity springs from. He explains, “there’s a lot we haven’t dealt with in our soul, so I like to deal with it in my artwork.”


One of the most important funerary traditions in New Orleans is called the dirge. Commonly referred to as a funeral march, the dirge is central to even deeper themes. Musically, it is a jaunty, syncopated rhythm in 2/4 time. It’s purpose is to guide mourners into their purge of the deceased. The dirge must be done communally in a formation, to nurse the mourners into their sorrow and to help them move through their feelings of grief. The dirge is not simply that which is dead that we mourn, but also what we need to mourn– these issues in our community that cause separation and division. In this way, Prince explains, we can deal with problems in our society. They must be recognized, mourned, and released, and the process is communal. You will see the wail of mourners in his pieces, the beat of the drums, and the waving of the white handkerchief.


Prince explains another common symbol that we see in local art– the dove. The white dove represents the holy spirit. At a wedding, the dove covers the newlyweds and guides them. In a funeral tradition, the dove is used at the gravesite as a symbol of the release of the soul. But doves got too expensive, or perhaps the small and gradual deaths of life created too many funerals, and now when the mourners begin to move to the dirge and shake the grief from their bodies, the handkerchief comes to life as the dove.


In Prince’s work, look for these themes. He embeds them symbolically into his sculptures, graphite works and linocuts/woodcuts to educate, to challenge, and openly grapple with societies’ moral and ethical dilemmas.


KidzArt Post

April is art materials month @ KidzArt. During the month we’ll share products that may help with upcoming projects.

Here’s our first recommendation: Clear Carve™ is a clear flexible surface for stamp making, etching and  block printing.  You can see through the surface to an image eblow!  Available in 3×4” and up as well as by the roll.  From

Inspired by impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh, this art idea can be turned into one of a kind holiday cards that kids of all ages will love to make!

Watercolor paper cut into squares or rectangles about 3×4″ each
Small star stickers
Liquid watercolor paint (blue or turquoise)
Blank cards
Glue stick
Pen or marker

Apply stars on watercolor paper.
Paint with watercolor paint on paper over the star stickers.
Sprinkle salt over wet paint. Try different kinds of salt for varying effects.
Let dry completely.
Rub off the salt and peel away the star stickers.
Glue the artwork to front of a blank card and add any embellishments (like a border) with a pen or maker.
Add a message or signature to complete a beautiful custom holiday greeting card!


Kids love building with Legos but how about stamping and painting with them? Kids will enjoy making Indian Corn with this easy but fun stamping craft.


Materials Needed:
• 3 Legos
• Brown, yellow, and orange washable paint
• White and brown paper
• Glue
• Scissors

Put brown, yellow and orange paint each on a separate paper plate. Let kids dip their Legos in the paint and stamp it all over the white paper. Tell them to press hard against the white paper to make a print covering the entire sheet of paper.


Once the paint is completely dry, cut out two corn shapes from the paper. Take the brown construction paper and cut 6 leaf shapes. Stack them and slightly crease or bend them back and forth for a 3D effect. Glue them onto the back of the corn.


(StatePoint) “America After 3 PM,” a new survey commissioned by the Afterschool Alliance, finds that participation in afterschool programs has increased dramatically, from 6.5 million children in 2004 to 10.2 million today. Unmet demand has increased, as well. The parents of 19.4 million children not in afterschool programs say they would enroll their children if programs were available.

Every day, children in afterschool programs expand their horizons, enhance their skills and discover their passions by programming computers, planting gardens, cleaning up parks and playgrounds, and by participating in many more activities that prepare them for college, career and life. But despite an increase in participation over the last decade, the new survey of 30,000 American households found that, for every child currently enrolled in an afterschool program, there are two more who are not – and whose parents would like them to be.

“I’ve seen firsthand what reams of data have proven: Afterschool programs do remarkable things for our children, families and communities,” said former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, founder of After-School All-Stars. “They help kids with their homework, teach them teamwork, engage them in community service, pair them with mentors, give them the chance to get — and stay — physically fit, engage them in activities like rocketry and robotics that turn them on to 21st-century professions, connect them to community partners, and much more. We need to make an afterschool program available to every child.”

The new “America After 3PM” survey finds that both participation in, and unmet demand for, afterschool programs are much higher among children from low-income households than households with higher income, and higher among African American and Hispanic than white children. The parents of 60 percent of the nation’s African American children would enroll their children in programs if ones were available, as would the parents of 57 percent of Latino children. The same is true of 35 percent of white children.

“Afterschool programs help students use the skills and information they learn in school, while keeping them safe, inspiring them to learn, and providing essential help to working families,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. “While we have made some progress, we are nowhere close to meeting the demand for afterschool and summer programs. Too many children are missing out on the fun, educational activities afterschool programs offer because federal funding has been stalled for years. It’s past time to increase our country’s investment in afterschool.”

The benefits of afterschool programs are clear to families. More than eight in ten parents with children in afterschool programs say these programs help working parents keep their jobs. Eighty-five percent say the programs give working parents peace of mind.

“America After 3PM, 2014″ was funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Noyce Foundation, with additional support from the Heinz Endowments, The Robert Bowne Foundation and the Samueli

via EDUCATION: Afterschool participation grows but unmet demand nears 20 million children/Insight

What better time to show off your artistic talents than at Halloween? Halloween is the time to create a funny, scary, silly or weird costume where the only limitation is your imagination! The most memorable and admired costumes are often the homemade ones made with little money and lots of creativity.

An inexpensive and easy way to make a Halloween costume is to start by creating a great mask. Kids can get together with friends and have a great time creating their Halloween disguises, which can be anything from monsters to mermaids.

Here are some clever mask creation ideas so kids can pretend to be someone or something else:

1. Milk Jug Masks- Using a clean, dry gallon milk jug, cut away the handle and opening part of the jug, leaving the base intact. The jug’s base will be the top of the mask and will sit on the child’s head. Cut two openings for the eyes and a hole for the mouth. Decorate with acrylic paint and craft materials to make Frankenstein, an alien or any kind of monster!


2. A Blank Canvas- Plain white inexpensive plastic masks are available in many shapes and sizes. Use a glue gun to apply feathers, glitter, acrylic paint, buttons, gems, paper scraps, ribbons, felt, etc. After Halloween, use your mask for Mardi Gras or mount it on colored mat board and display it as a wall decoration.

3. Animal Nose Mask- Transform pieces of an egg carton into an animal’s snout! Cut out one cup section from an egg carton. Paint it or cover it with felt, fabric, pompoms, to make it look like your chosen animal’s nose. Add pipe cleaners or yarn for whiskers too! Finally poke holes in each side of the snout and string a long piece of elastic through and knot both sides so that the mask fits snug.

4. Hand Print Masks- Trace both your left and right hands on heavy construction paper or craft foam. Cut them out and then cut an eye hole in center of each hand. Slightly overlap the palms and glue together (fingers of each hand should be facing out in opposite directions). Embellish with sequins, feathers, buttons, felt, etc. Once it’s dry, attach a craft stick to the back and use as a handle to hold the mask up to your face!

The Art of Zentangle: 50 inspiring drawings, designs & ideas for the meditative artist
by Margaret Bremner, Norma J. Burnell, Penny Raile and Lara Williams

This is an easy step-by-step book with visual suggestions for creating wonderful artwork. This workbook format with blank pages interspersed allows young (and old!) artists can practice suggested techniques.

Modern Art: The Groundbreaking Moments by Brad Finger

Why did Claude Monet provoke a scandal? How did all these new ways of making art fit into the context of their time? A very informative book with great illustrations (paperback)

At Left Brain Turn Right: An Uncommon Path to Shutting Up Your Inner Critic, Giving Fear the Finger & Having an Amazing Life! by Anthony Mind

In an interview on YouTube with Cherry Norris Tony says “It’s about addressing the artist in all of us. Getting out of the left brain dialogues. We have 70,000 thoughts a day and many of our thoughts are fiction.” We see this in KidzArt—people who think they aren’t creative or can’t draw. But as we say “If you can dream you can draw”!

Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer

Did you know that the most creative companies have spaces (like centralized bathrooms and snack areas) that encourage random conversations among disparate departments? That the color blue can help you double your creative output?

The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle

Although a children’s picture book, this story is an inspiration to both adults and children. Carle grew up in Germany during WWII. His art teacher secretly showed him some work by so-called “degenerate artists”, banned by the Nazi regime. Franz Marc, whose work inspired this book, was one of them. In this picture story, a young boy paints a blue horse, a purple fox and a black polar bear. Young students will empathize with the message that there are no “wrong” colors and no mistakes in art.

How many years have you owned a KidzArt franchise?
Just over a year.

How many teachers and students do you have?
I have three Certified Instructors and 100+ children in schools, multiple church youth groups, a couple dozen residents at three retirement centers, and numerous adult events including wine glass painting, collages and silk painting.


How many schools do you serve?
We’ve done classes in three public schools and one private and are actively pursuing new opportunities of both types. We are eager to partner with schools, organizations and businesses in whatever way is needed, whether its providing an art activity, leading a team-building exercise or involving the community in painting a mural.


What is your franchise’s philosophy?
The Shoreview KidzArt philosophy focuses on building relationships within the community that provide opportunities to experience art, and encouragement in the process of self-discovery. Our strengths are our persistence and patient, and both are being honed to a chisel point daily.

What do you believe are the keys to your success?
Significance is my measure of success. My business goal is the same as my personal goal: to make a positive contribution to people’s lives and the community using art which is my passion. This will hopefully be supported by the bottom line but for me it’s about the journey not the destination.


Do you have any advice and tips on how to foster children’s creativity and artistic nature?
Identify your child’s gifts and make opportunities for them to use them. Be authentic in showing interest, providing encouragement and sharing life experiences. It’s an exercise in valuing the whole child, like a hug.  

Can you offer any other guidance that parent blog readers would enjoy reading and learning from?
Find the joy in every situation, it’s there; if you don’t recognize it just adjust what you’re looking for.  

Do you have any interesting stories about students and how KidzArt has helped/impacted them?
One student needed constant affirmation that she was doing it “right”. When a mistake (which don’t exist in the KidzArt world) found its way into her drawing, we encouraged her to fall back on her creativity and offered help in brainstorming a solution. The outcome had her beaming and the rest of the kids adding the same thing to their drawings.


Do you offer art camps or birthday parties?
Both. Multiple camp themes target specific age groups to appeal to princesses and pirates as well as Tweenz and Teenz. Mini-camps exercise the right brain during school breaks and birthday parties entertain with creativity.

Tell us anything else about you or your franchise.
Running a business is similar to parenting. It stretches you in new ways every day and challenges you to be your best. Every day I learn something new, not always of my choosing, but always valuable.

KidzArt Shoreview serves the Shoreview, Roseville, New Brighton, Arden Hills, Mounds View, White Bear, Dellwood, Vadnais Heights, Falcon Heights, and Lauderdale, Minnesota areas. For more information, visit

Starting the new school year can be a time of great excitement… and anxiety. Here are a few tips to help calm your child’s fears:


Attend Events
Go to orientation or any introductory events created for you and your child. If your school hosts a parent coffee or an open house, be sure to go.

Visit the School
Helping your child get familiar with a new school will ease their anxiety. Explore the playground. Establish walking routes or where your child will meet you after school.

Nurture Independence
Get your child ready for self-direction. This might include organizing school materials, writing down assignments, and bringing home homework, Even if your child is young, you can instill skills that will build confidence and independence.

Connect with Friends
Try calling parents from last year’s class and to find out which children are in your child’s class this year. Knowing that a familiar face will be in class can be a comfort to your child.

Re-Establish School Routines
It can be hard breaking summer habits of getting up late and relaxing after breakfast. Plan morning activities outside the house during the week or two before school.

Get Ready!
Make procuring supplies a special event with your child. Having the right tools will help him feel prepared. Allow your child a small amount of money to purchase a special notebook or a favorite-colored pen. These simple pleasures make going back to school a lot more fun.

Create a Time and Place for Homework and Creative Expression
Even if it is the dining room table, make sure your child has a quiet place to work on homework, school projects or his/her own creative work!

Research and evaluation are critical to understanding, improving and growing a policy, a program or an organization. Federal, state and local government; as well as foundations and other public and private sector funding agencies are increasingly asking for this information that will give them greater insight into outcomes and the impact of their investment.

Afterschool Alliance understands the importance of research and evaluation in the afterschool field and “Taking a Deeper Dive into Afterschool: Positive Outcomes and Promising Practices” synthesizes the findings of research covering hundreds of afterschool programs. The report highlights the positive results of these programs on the students who participate in them and outlines the promising practices associated with quality programs.

The report is divided into three sections: the first section reviews evaluations that assess outcomes of students who participate in afterschool programs, the second section presents a summary of promising practices of afterschool programs based on a synthesis of existing research, and the third section provides detailed examples of afterschool programs implementing each promising practice.

Outcomes reviewed in the first section are:

    1. 1. School engagement, including attendance and likelihood of staying in school;
    2. 2. Student behavior, including participation in at-risk behaviors, such as criminal activity, gang involvement, drug and alcohol use, or sexual activity; and
    3. 3. Academic performance, including test scores, grades, graduation rates and college enrollment.


The first section includes evaluations of programs from across the country. From LA’s BEST in California, to Higher Achievement in the Washington, D.C., metro area, these afterschool programs demonstrate the numerous positive benefits associated with participation in afterschool, such as missing fewer days of school, decreased disciplinary incidents, gains in academic performance, and increased likelihood of being promoted to the next grade and graduating from high school.

The second section focuses on determining why afterschool programs have a positive impact on children, looking at the following promising practices of effective programs:


  • •Intentional programming/strong program design, which includes identifying and targeting specific goals and outcomes, providing variation in activities and using engaging programming to encourage regular attendance;
  • •Staff quality, which includes staff ability to connect positively with children, the program’s professional development efforts and staff experience;
  • •Effective partnerships with schools, community organizations and families; and
  • •Rigorous program evaluation and ongoing program improvement.


Also included in the report are detailed examples of promising practices in action. For example, the AfterZone in Providence, Rhode Island, is a citywide afterschool initiative that leverages community partnerships. The program is offered at multiple community facilities within a specified area, allowing students to take part in afterschool activities located at the “anchor” middle school or at libraries, art centers, museums and other community organizations. There are more than 70 community-based organizations that offer students access to free programs that range from building solar-powered go-carts to learning how to play the guitar.

To learn more about the positive impact and promising practices of afterschool programs, you can check out the full report.

Source: Afterschool Alliance Blog

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