Find & Seek: Red Hook Summer

In an era of true educational crisis, which manifests in overtesting, overscheduling, and under-resourcing free play, childhood has become lost.  Find & Seek redirects children's attention from a world idolizing glittery media characters and striving after non-developmentally appropriate academic goals, back to simple materials. 

WhatFind & Seek will run a summer series on Monday and Friday mornings at the Red Hook Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, which will combine elements from the Fall 2013 Story Play and Materials Lab, and Spring 2014 Curious Cabinet. 

How: Our workshops run for 1 1/2 hours, and filled to the brim with a range of the following activities:
1. Storytelling
2. Puppetry
3. Imaginative Play 
4. Materials Exploration and Making

We focus on books, of course, as we are in a library! But we also bring into the storytelling mix our own special hybrid approach of facilitated play and materials exploration. Find & Seek's main focus is providing a diverse range of found, repurposed and natural materials to young children, and facilitating open-ended imaginative play with these materials. We encourage music and movement, and welcome all of the "hundred languages" of childhood as children explore them. We honor each individual child as a unique human being with a beautiful imagination, and we support each child as they make their own journey as a play expert and storyteller!  

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Ages: We welcome the youngest book lovers, babies and toddlers, up to children who will be entering Kindergarten in the Fall. This is a class for children and their caregivers (not a drop-off).

Why 
Early Literacy: Children love story and need to be exposed to story in all its forms. If stories can be told, sung and acted out to little ones, instead of merely being read from a book, this is so much more effective in appealing to the many ways that children learn! Fewer than 1/2 of America's children are read to at some point in every day, and those who don't end up with a meager "listening vocabulary."  We curate and read (and sometimes act out, or provide a puppet show based on) a beautiful selection of children's books that highlight play, the beauty of the natural world, healthy social and emotional growth, and the wonders of the imagination. We believe (and this is supported by a great body of research) that early literacy starts with deepened early imaginative play. Find & Seek workshops provide a powerful collection of child-centered pre-literacy activities for young children. In our workshops, we not only work to build children's listening and speaking vocabularies, but we enhance children's creative and imaginative vocabulary. Our background is strong in the area of early oral language development, due to 10 years of work in various NYC schools, facilitating video storytelling extensions of PreK through 3rd grade curricula (through our sister organizations Digital Story Workshop and Little Creatures Films). 

Open-Ended Play:  Children today are sorely in need of more opportunities to play freely, ie: in scenarios they direct themselves.  Find & Seek makes and effort to slow down the pace, to let children play, and we also document as we go, observing closely as children move objects around and make decisions, listening to their words and sounds as they play. We nurture the development of children's poetic voice, facilitating children coming into their own as Storytellers, starting at the youngest ages possible.  Through our workshops, children's imaginations are sparked and the depths of their interests are tapped into, and as a result their brains are "turned on" in ways that benefit healthy human development. We also facilitate parental involvement in children's play, wth a nod to Vygotskian "facilitated play."  As we develop our own Play Facilitation skills, we look to experts like the authors of Tools of the Mind, Jerome and Dorothy Singer of the Yale Child Study Center, Vivian Gussin Paley and the schools of Reggio Emilia.

Exploration of Materials:  Children today need more opportunities to work with open-ended materials. Our society is facing a crisis in our educational system, which manifests in an overload of testing, lack of sufficient "choice time" in the classroom, and reduced recess schedules. Our children growing up with access to many resources are increasingly overscheduled during what used to be "down time," and our children of few means are becoming further and further lost in the segregated, mismanaged school system. Children are exposed to a multitude of toys, both commercial (that reference mass market entertainment/characters) and "educational," and to hundreds of films, TV shows and apps that supposedly benefit them.  Find & Seek redirects children's gaze from the glittery media to simple materials--natural, recycled and beautiful objects that lend themselves to art, building and exploration, and that do their part to organically support more meaningful play. Our natural, recycled and beautiful objects lend themselves to art, building and exploration, and they guide us as we work to organically support more meaningful play in early childhood. 

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Who: Kristin Eno and Elisha Georgiou, both M.Ed. (Art Education, Columbia Teachers College), are co-directors of Find & Seek, and both serve as teachers. We are growing our staff to include more teachers, and we will update our website as they come on board.

Where: The class is in the back classroom in the Red Hook Public Library, at 7 Wolcott St., a location along the B61 Bus Line. When possible, we will utilize the library's back patio, and perhaps even the "secret garden" next door.

When: Monday and Friday mornings, 10:30-12pm, for much of the 2014 Summer. Our classes are 1.5 hours long because the type of play that we foster takes time. We want children to deepen their imaginative play, so that they can tap into their innate abilities as creators, innovators and thinkers.  

Fee: Tickets are $20/session (1 hour). Having been funded in Spring of 2014 by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC), and run in the Fall of 2013 as a Free Program, with completely volunteer staff, this Summer Series is the first ticketed Mommy-and-Me class at the library. Charging for tickets will help us cover our costs and build our business, so that we can bring Find & Seek to more children all over NYC, particularly those who are in need of expanded PLAY opportunities. PURCHASE TICKETS FOR JULY 7 & 11 HERE.