February 26, 2021

Arizona Wolf Trap responds to COVID-19

Typically, Arizona Wolf Trap annually engages more than 1,800 children from 40 classrooms across Metro Phoenix. In this program, teaching artists visit early childhood (pre-K through 2nd grade) classrooms twice a week for seven weeks. During the residency, the artists use the performing arts as a way to engage students in curriculum concepts while enhancing lifelong skills such as fine and gross movements, language, and critical thinking.  

But this year, like everything else, Arizona Wolf Trap had to change.  

Pre-K children develop self-expression and empathy, while they “dance their feelings” with Wolf Trap teaching artist, Rosy Mack, coming to them virtually on the big screen.
Photo: Scottsdale Arts

Due to the pandemic, school closures and safety measures meant that in-classroom residencies were not possible for the Arizona Wolf Trap team, so instead, they took the program digital. Now you can experience the “Wolf Trap way” from anywhere and at any time through Wolf Trap On-Demand

This bright collection of video recordings features Wolf Trap teaching artists in action. Showcasing the professional and creative talents of our artists, these videos are perfect for sharing with pre-K through kindergarten children, both in school and at home. The lessons directly connect to literacy, language arts, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) learning through the performing arts. Wolf Trap Artists offer creative learning through music, dance, drama, puppetry, African drumming, and storytelling—all to reach children everywhere. We have the child living the experiences in fun, participatory, and engaging ways of learning. Full lesson plans and extension ideas are included with each video. 

Entering the world of imagination, rhythm, and fun with Wolf Trap teaching artist Sam Anderson, children engage and participate as “Sam-I-Am” shares his lively storytelling.
Photo: Scottsdale Arts

Excited and challenged by the idea of creating Wolf Trap On-Demand, each teaching artist set to work designing a participatory, arts-integrated digital lesson. Often filmed from their home or home studio, the intent of these online lessons is to be accessible, friendly, approachable, and easy to integrate into any learning situation. Keeping the learning meaningful and fun, there is a selection of topics including dance your feelingsanimal habitatshealthy food and bodies, and more! 

Monkey Breath, an original story created by teaching artist Jonathan Mincks, helps children understand and have fun with health and safety during a pandemic. When asked about his creative backstory for this lesson, Jonathan replied: 

“Monkeys, bad breath, superheroes, and imaginary rubber balls—these are how you beat a pandemic! As a teaching artist with Wolf Trap Early Learning through the Arts, I have always felt part of our purpose is to give young students tools for life—emotional, social, and rationalization tools they can apply to challenging situations. Situations like having to wear masks, distancing, and washing hands. The lesson Monkey Breath is an engaging story to play that helps children understand the scientific rational behind safe practices and gives them tools so they can be safe while playing and having fun.” 

Jonathan Mincks, Wolf Trap Teaching Artist

Cover of Monkey Breath by Jonathan Mincks. This book is free to download and use in the classroom, or you can read along with Jonathan in a video. Photo: Jonathan Mincks

These online videos are offered at no charge to school districts, teachers, families, and childcare workers, and are fully accessible to all who wish to share vibrant, engaging learning with a young child. This online resource will not only keep our connections and support early childhood students and teachers now, but these lessons will also serve our community well beyond the current pandemic as an on-demand resource for high-quality, arts-integrated lesson plans.  

If you are an early childhood teacher and interested in learning more about Arizona Wolf Trap residencies, visit our website or contact Diane McNeal Hunt, director, Arizona Wolf Trap, at [email protected]. We will begin taking bookings for the Fall 2021 semester in August. Residencies book quickly so be sure to reserve your spot early.  

“Dancing Diane” and kindergarten students create a dance about our beautiful world of colors in this pre-pandemic file photo. Every color is special, unique, and must be included to form a magical rainbow. Photo: Betty Hum Photography

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