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Summer Camp Wrap Up

As our summer camps come to a close, we wanted to touch base with all of you and celebrate what a creative and joyful summer we have had!

As all of you know, we are changing the way that we teach art, jewelry, and textiles here at Dragonfly Designs. This summer of San Francisco based camps has provided us with a wonderful opportunity to hone our skills in slowing down and showing up prepared to teach the skills & techniques needed for better understanding. We have made it our mission to be fully engaged in the artistic process of these kiddos from start to finish. We have even been ending our classes with a Critique circle which gives the children time to reflect on and ask follow-up questions on what they have learned! We love this end-of-day quality time because the campers get to interact with one another and give loving feedback on the art of their peers. With this environment of compassion and fun, the campers were so kind and supportive of one another!

“The first week of summer camp, one of the students cried at the last day because she did not want to go home. She is only five and was so moved by the camp experience! It was so sweet that she cared so much.” – Yige

Naturally, our favorite part of every day is sharing what we love about art, jewelry, and textiles with the young and brilliant minds of these kids! Their boundless creativity and unique ideas never cease to blow our minds. You’re a parent — you know how it is! Watching the gears turn in their heads, seeing the light bulb go off, and then that moment of pure excitement and investment in themselves — there’s nothing like it! Each and every member of the Dragonfly Designs team is tirelessly devoted to the learning process of each and every child, and this summer of camps has exhibited that more than ever!

In case this summer got away from you a little, we wanted to be sure to show you our favorite new projects! Our top two faves have been two new pieces of curriculum — the Art Journal and the Wind Chimes!

Here’s the lowdown on the Art Journals:

The Art Journal has given kids the ability to track their own progress in a concrete manner! Our hope was to give them a source of positive affirmation that they get to create, maintain, and reflect on themselves. Being a kid can be hard, and sometimes learning can be frustrating. We wanted to give them an avenue to see that they are really learning and growing and there’s proof written, drawn, and painted by their own hands.

First, we give them infographics on different art and jewelry techniques and let them paste them into their journals. That way, they never have to go looking for the directions for our basic techniques again! Whenever they need a reminder, they’ve already saved one for themselves. From there we have them paint, color, draw, and even sew in their journals! There are no limits to what can be added to an Art Journal, and we encourage these kids to let their creativity run wild!

“In slowing down and helping each child, I was thinking it might be nice to have the painting curriculum start off by having the children draw or paint something on paper or canvas as an exercise so that we can better assess where they are in terms of brush handling and paint application. These fall curriculums look like they’re going to be great. I would love to be a part of this!” – Roberto

One of the girls in our camps this summer asked one of our teachers, Minh, for a drawn portrait of her for her art journal. We had been talking to the kids about what a proficient artist Minh is, and she got excited hearing about his art and wanted to take some home herself! He took the time to sit with her and draw a portrait of her for her journal. She’ll get to have that forever! It’s experiences like these that make our hearts happy and tell us that we are moving in the right direction. We didn’t even mention the concept of portraits, but we mentioned all sorts of other ways to add content to the journals, and she arrived at that conclusion for herself! Inspiring children by sharing parts of ourselves and our own love of art makes us so happy!

Now to the Wind Chimes:

The Wind Chime project was also new to us this year. We were thrilled to incorporate it because it gives kids the opportunity to incorporate a fun thing found in nature (such as a stick) and their newly learned jewelry techniques (crimping, beading, wirework, and measuring) to create something beautiful for their own room! Incorporating nature is always a good time because it adds another level of activity for the kids. They get to go scavenge around their own yard, go on a walk with family and pick a stick, or simply stumble across one in the duration of their day and — voila! — art material!

The kids seemed to really invest in this project, and seeing their individual interpretations of the pattern made our hearts smile! We had kids make wind chimes of every color combination you could think of, different lengths and patterns, and some kids went wild with the wirework! It was fabulous to watch! Some of them decided they wanted their windchimes to be purely aesthetic in their sunny bedroom windows, some said they wanted to hang it in their kitchen windows for all of their family to enjoy on a daily basis, and others said they were going to put it in a garden so that the wind could keep the bells ringing! The different designs were fun, but the different goals and uses were exactly the type of thinking-outside-the-box that we hoped they could achieve.

I think one of the things I love when teaching kids is when parents come to pick the kid up and a lot of the kids say ‘noooo’ with a disappointed face. It’s to heartening to know they enjoyed the camp and their time with us. Also, today we taught kids to make wind chimes and some of them came up to me and said, ‘This is the best thing I have ever made.’ It made me so happy! To be honest, there are so many cool things in the class that I can tell these types of stories for a long time.” – Minh

Here are a few of our fun projects from this summer:

 

  • Sand Candles
  • Rock Mandalas

  • Embroidery Basics

  • Copper Etching

  • Clay Fruit Bowls

  • Basket Weaving

  • Punched Metal Jewelry

  • Resin Jewelry

  • Screen Printing

  • Wool Felting

  • Tassel Banners

  • Wire Wrapped Geode Pendants

  • Beaded Bookmarks

  • Constellations Wall Hangings

  • Stamp Carving

  • Card Making

  • Soap Making

In conclusion:

Camps this year have been wild and wonderful. We changed the entire foundation of our teaching methods and practices. We added a ton of new curriculum, and we watched the adorable and inquisitive minds of these children grow by the hour. And above all else, we loved every second. We hope you and your child did too.

We are now finalizing our Fall curriculum for our After School programs. We have treasured every moment of teaching at our camps this summer and can’t wait to continue bringing new and exciting projects and lessons to kids this fall!

Until next time,
Stacee Gillelen

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Stacee Gillelen

Mother of four, artist, and founder of Dragonfly Designs. After my second daughter was born, I left my career in banking and fell in love with the art of jewelry making, and found that I just couldn’t stop spreading the joy of it to others.

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