Friday, August 16, 2013

Puttin' on a fashion show

Today was a happy reunion with a bunch of the littles who have grown up and left daycareland. Generally speaking I don’t plan too many things on reunion days since our time together is precious and the kids just want to hangout with old friends. Mostly it’s a time for catching up with each other and sharing how much our lives have changed in the time since we last visited with one another.

That being said, the kiddies who land on my doorstep during the summer program are a random collection of kids from years past so the energy of the group is very different than it is during the school year. It can be tough for the graduates and the newer littles to click if their interests and ages are too far apart. In those situations I keep a few activities on the back burner to fill out any rough spots during the day or to bring everyone to a place of connection so we can move forward in our day happily. 

I should have known better than to even bother with any alternate plans with this group because they all seem to share a passion for fashion, pop music and pop culture. Shortly after breakfast two of my older daycare besties requested some “dance club music” and they informed me that it  needed to be loud, really really LOUD so they could dance. I offered up Queen and Abba knowing that the lyrics are not too questionable but they shot me down in favor of REAL dance club music. Then they busted out singing the lyrics from LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem in harmony and asked for me to find THAT song. A quick search on Pandora under the Cardio Dance radio station turned up just the right booty shaking music. 

The kids got to work showing each other dance moves they learned from music videos and dance classes. They worked together to come up with a few new moves by merging what they knew and what they saw other children doing until their “moves” morphed into a new routine. Seeing that everyone was interested in the dance theme, I offered to get out the disco ball and flashlight to make an official dance floor.

You would have thought I had just promised an actual real live performance by LMFAO. The girls squealed with delight as they rushed around looking for the perfect outfits to wear to the “big dance”.  As I gathered up the supplies for the dance floor they swarmed my feet shouting out ideas for outfits and transforming our little room into a dance club. There was quite a commotion as many glittery skirts were tried on and tossed aside until each dance participant had found just the right outfit. Meanwhile Sam, our only boy who does not share the girls passion for fashion or disco dancing watched for a while then decided to do his own thing with the marble tracks at the train table.

Once everything was set up the girls paired up and got to work choreographing a dance routine together. Not wanting to miss out on all the fun, Sam decided to put on a fuzzy scarf, back pack and some green goggles to join in the festivities. He even found a way to work his favorite thing ever - rope into a dance routine. He wrapped it around each girl’s waist then pulled it and as he did the girls went spinning across the room like ballerinas. Everyone wanted a turn with Sam’s rope dance and eventually the girls took over the idea and he moved on to dancing on the jumping spot with another friend.

In another area the oldest girls worked in pairs pulling each other through their legs footloose style then they danced with waltz like motions. The younger girls studied their movements and waited for turns to give it a try. Later all of the kids made a little conga line, followed by a coordinated group wave, that went up and down the whole line of children several times.

Somewhere along the line the group focus went from developing new dance routines to creating the most outlandish fashion statements. The three oldest girls decided they wanted to be “fashion models” and “designers” so they claimed the fairy den as their “backstage area” for designing dresses. 

They flipped on the lights and got to work fashioning outfits for themselves and each other. Some of the kids draped spare bits of fabric and scarves over themselves then attached loose ends with binder clips or asked me to tie them to create dresses. All of the kids worked together choosing outfits based on specific elements of the fabric or style they were working on. They discussed which colors went together and how much sequence or fuzz was a fashionable amount. When the largest girls came across dresses that didn’t fit, they simply tucked the tops of dresses down around their waist to transform them into skirts then they added fuzzy scarves or draped fabric across their chest to make a complete the outfit. 

The kids decided they needed a stage to complete their fashion show so they built one out of scrap wood and dubbed me the photographer / audience. It took some time for them to decide on the proper direction and height for the stage but once they did the construction was pretty quick. They laid wood planks on top of each other by staggering them in a double height pile, then they covered the “stage” with various textured fabrics and ran Christmas lights along the sides.  

I introduced the children to the term “catwalk” then demonstrated my best model walk complete with a hand on the hip and an exaggerated swagger. I explained how models do a little turn for the audience so that everyone can see all of the details of the garment. The kids ran with it and had a blast taking turns walking up and down the catwalk, hamming it up for the camera and switching up the outfits then taking another turn. The “models” waiting backstage helped each other change clothes quickly and line up again so there was no lag time between models on the catwalk. 

When all the fun was over we cleaned up and went outside for a little break.

Later as we ate lunch we looked at a slideshow of our project and revisited some ideas about designing clothes. We talked about our favorite elements in each outfit. We discussed the shape of garments, how we made them and which texture / color combinations were our favorites.

Then we viewed a video clip of real models on the runway in Milan including behind the scenes artistry involved in getting the girls ready. We watched as the make up artists, hair artists and designers all worked very quickly on the models to create a certain look in a very short period of time - just as we had done. As the models made their way down the runway, we discussed the colors, textures and shapes of their garments. We considered the materials the designer used to create the outfits, how the outfits were accessorized, which outfits we liked and which outfits we didn’t like. The kids even had some ideas about what they would have done to improve the designers concept.   

Just as we were wrapping up our discussion about how fashion designing, make up artistry and hair artistry are all related forms of art, Isabel noted that “Models are like a living canvas for designers” - How awesome is that? 

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