EYEPlay began with a simple idea: “How do we create tools that allow preschool teachers to become confident and enthusiastic facilitators of drama-based lessons in their own classrooms?” At Childsplay, we knew from decades of work with young people that learning through drama supports language, literacy and social emotional development. We saw it every day, in the classes we taught through the Childsplay Academy and through teaching artist residencies in schools. We also knew that we would never have the capacity on our own to bring drama-based learning to our entire community, but we just might be able to expand our reach by empowering classroom teachers to teach drama on their own. We became particularly enthralled with the preschool space – with the teachers who believed in the power of learning through play and with 3-5 year olds whose openness and honesty kept us on our toes!
What began with a simple idea has become over a decade-long exploration of what it means to teach drama for preschoolers: What is the clearest way to transfer drama facilitation skills to teachers? How can drama support language learning? How can drama support emergent bilingualism? How do you measure effective drama facilitation? How do you measure children’s learning and social/emotional development when they participate in drama-based lessons? We hope you will take some time to look at our research page and continue this learning with us.
EYEPlay’s evolution has paralleled its own pedagogical framework: learn, reflect, iterate, and learn some more. The program design today is a direct result of the active participation of hundreds of classroom teachers, teaching artists, researchers and, of course, children. To date, it has been implemented in 122 classrooms, including 24 bilingual/dual language classrooms in Arizona and Florida. Childsplay is extraordinarily grateful to the many community partners who helped us develop EYEPlay. We are particularly indebted to the Helios Education Foundation, which helped EYEPlay grow from a spark of an idea into a multi-state program.
We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of the teaching artists who helped shape the EYEPlay program. You keep us thinking and learning and laughing every day:
Korbi Adams, Laura Berger, Patricia Black, Raquel Denis, Sarah Dolens-Moon, Megan Flod, Bradford Forehand, Emily Freeman, Jen Gantwerker, Mollie Gittleman, Liliana Gomez, Ximena Gonzalez, Iris Gutierrez, Ashley Hare, Gigi Hernandez, Haley Honeman, Maria Katsadouros, Molly LaJoie, Carlos Lara, Crystal Lizardo, Andrea Lombardi, Kim Manning, Karen Marulanda, Rachel McCabe, Lindsay McEuan, Katie McFadzen, Sean Medlin, Laura Mejia, Jenny Millinger, Kathleen Pennyway, Iva Pereira, Stacie Perez, Elizabeth Polen, Lillie Richardson, Julio Sauceda-Lara, Brianna Stapleton Welch, Sarah Sullivan, Carlos Urtubey, Xanthia Walker
These amazing folks keep asking questions…and asking questions about questions…and making our work smarter and better and more thoughtful every day. We would not be here without their partnership and support:
Dr. Katie Bernstein, Dr. Katie Chapman, Dr. Kathleen Ferrand, Dr. Michael Kelley, Dr. Sultan Kilinc, Dr. Scott Marley, Melissa Pierce, Dr. Laida Restrepo, Dr. Lauren Van Huisstede
Jenny Millinger is Childsplay’s Associate Artistic Director, where she has been an ensemble member since 2003. She is a playwright, dramaturge, director, and passionate advocate for preschoolers and early childhood educators. She has led in the design and development of EYEPlay throughout its truly wonderous journey. Jenny’s favorite children’s book to dramatize is The Red Wolf by Margaret T. Shannon.
Kathryn Brantley is Director of Education and School Programs, responsible for establishing inclusive learning environments that inspire creativity, promote courageous empathy, and foster a life-long love for discovery and the performing arts. Kathryn is a teaching artist privileged to work as a teaching artist at theatre companies and community organizations including; Theatre Noir, Florida Studio Theatre, Dramatic English, Boys and Girls Clubs and many elementary schools. Kathryn earned a B.A. in Media Communications from Asbury University and an M.F.A. in Theatre for Young Audiences from the University of Central Florida.
Sarah Dolens-Moon is the Education Programs Manager at Childsplay. She has been a theatre artist and educator for over 15 years. She has a BA in Theatre and Elementary Ed from UW-Milwaukee and recently obtained her MFA in Theatre for Youth and Communities from ASU. Sarah loves the boundless energy and imagination of young people, especially preschoolers! Sarah is also a proud parent to Dylan and Penny!
Her favorite children's book to dramatize is The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch.