Good Morning Creative Arts Program and Preschool: a year in review

Good Morning Creative pre-schoolers in pandemic times are still active and creative!   Photos: Karen Cameron

By Anne Clairmont and Karen Cameron

There is no doubt 2020 will be remembered as an atypical year, a year of struggle and resilience. At Good Morning Creative Arts Program and Preschool (GMCAPS), our educators, children and families demonstrated collaboration, patience and perseverance as we reimagined the delivery of programs. Quick to adopt new health and safety measures and innovative in our approaches, we were able to provide children with an enriching experience.

When we reopened our doors in October after the pandemic shutdown in March, GMCAPS offered a reduced program, Preschool and Beyond, for children between the ages of 31 months and six years. This program is running Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 9 to 11:30 a.m. It focuses on social skills and individual participation during circle time, using themes familiar to the child. We have now decided to open this program to new and existing families on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. This additional program will remain a low-ratio program with a maximum of 12 children and two educators.

In December, GMCAPS is further extending programming with the return of our beloved Storyscapes program on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Storyscapes was conceived as an engaging early-literacy program for younger children (ages three to six) who are ready for activities that offer a bit more structure as well as lots of room for creativity.

We introduce a new book each week and develop thematically relevant activities, including playful discussion, art projects and drama. For example, we typically provide complementary props or costumes, learn songs or poems related to the story’s theme, act out dialogue from the book or create art inspired by the story or its illustrations. It’s a big interactive “now what can we do with this?”

At its heart, Storyscapes is an invitation to engage, be inspired and create with each other. Former teacher Sandy Bulchak describes it like this: “The point is not to recreate the pages with drama or art but to make room for inspiration and let them run with it. Given the space and opportunity to express themselves, the children are brilliant. It’s a gentle, fun and creative way to foster early literacy.”  Children are encouraged to share their favourite stories, and we will also be sure to introduce them to new stories and old classics.

There are virtual art classes. We introduce weekly Virtual Art Classes on Thursdays at 5 p.m.  During these classes, children create amazing art using simple materials found at home with step-by-step guidance by our director and art teacher, Karen Cameron.  Weekly projects are geared for children from four to 10 but parents often sit in on these sessions as well. Art therapy is great for all!

None of this would have been possible without the continued support of the community and our families; for this we are very grateful. While we may not be able to foresee what lies ahead in 2021, one thing is sure – we have learned a lot and are well prepared for any situation. To that end, we have undertaken an exciting fundraising event.

Our fundraising events are usually social gatherings. In the past, they have included a Spaghetti Social, children’s theatre and children’s musical performances. Due to recent circumstances, our fundraising coordinator, Emily Bertrand, and our board had to be creative. Emily worked closely with some of Ottawa’s top sommeliers to create a wonderful and exclusive gift of a mixed case of organically curated wines with $100 from each box going directly to our school.

Sommeliers Mike Rochon of Fauna, Simon Hodgson of Riviera and Alex McMahon of Arlo put together six bottles of artisanal wines, both red and white, produced by small independent winemakers from around the world. These wines are not available at the LCBO and come with information sheets, suggested food pairings and fun notes about the winemakers.

On behalf of GMCAPS and our families, we wish everyone safe and happy holidays.

Anne Clairmont is the communications coordinator and Karen Cameron is the director of Good Morning Creative Arts and Preschool.

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