Sunshine graced both sky and sidewalk in Talethia Edwards’ neighborhood during their Chalk The Walk event at the end of March. Smiling suns, butterflies, rainbows and sight-word hopscotch were just a few images scattered across the concrete.
“I felt it would be a great idea for our neighborhood to stay connected without staying connected physically,” says Edwards, who serves as the president of the Greater Bond Neighborhood Association. “We bought chalk and put it out at different corners and let the kids make art, then individual people took photos and posted them.”
Almost one month later, creative quarantine activities like these continue to pop up across the city as stay-at-home orders are extended and a post-pandemic future remains unclear. Edwards is advocating for families to continue finding creative and artful solutions to combat anxiety in what feels like a never-ceasing case of cabin fever.
The Edwards’ home is an explosion of sound and color as she has co-created a new normal for her eight children who range in age from 11 months to 14 years old. After their daily song, prayer and schoolwork, there is time carved out for music and visual arts.
Edwards has enjoyed watching her children’s makeshift band, The Edwards Clan, which features cello, trombone, violin, piano, drums and vocals. She witnesses her son blossom as a musician daily, creating new songs on piano, while her daughters teach one another new techniques on their respective string instruments.
Everyday DIY home décor projects keep hands and minds busy. Edwards has shared these snapshots of her quarantine routine online to spark ideas for neighbors and friends.
“I like how we’ve found new ways to connect, and we seem more connected by sharing,” says Edwards. “I think this is our time to see great things from our kids going back to a love of the arts. We’re all tapping into the creative parts of ourselves.”
Dr. Sara Shields, an art education professor at Florida State University, continues to be inspired by the community’s resilience in a time where it is difficult to stay isolated, whether home alone or with children. She is working virtually with her students at FSU to create a website of quarantine “capsules,” or activities, that gives children ways to think about world issues and their physical environments by posing specific questions and answering them with art projects.
Shields tackled her first question — how to create a socially-distant community using limited resources — with the Magic Wand Project. Families only need a wooden stick and whatever art supplies they have lying around to make a “magic wand” and then leave them outside to be discovered.
“I was thinking a lot about how everybody is doing small things that become extraordinary gifts to the people around them,” says Shields. “JK Rowling made ‘Harry Potter’ open access for teachers and students, so I thought, how cool would it be to create magic in my neighborhood?”
At home, she strikes a delicate balance between scheduled activities and free play for her almost 3-year-old daughter and nine-month-old son. Crowd-pleasers have been messier projects, which she advises should be done outside, such as using leftover toilet paper rolls to dip into paint and stamp circles.
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