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Category Archives: TAP After-School

Excitement for New School Year

by Freddy Carnes, Artistic Associate

I’m very excited about this new school year! I’m leaving the Del Valle ISD and returning to the Austin ISD.  I will be teaching at three schools nearer to my home: Barrington Elementary, Wooten Elementary and Gullett Elementary. I’m particularly excited about teaching at Gullett. This is a new school for us and it is fee-based. Not only does this help bring in new revenue for our organization, but it can help bring in new Summer Camp students and supporters.

I’m also excited about my new Dell laptop. This will allow me to do video editing and expand my tools that I use with the students. I’ve already been working with the Windows Live Movie Maker software and I’m ready for the new challenge. Hopefully we’ll have a wonderful video to share with everyone later this year.

Our Superhero Teaching Artists

by Cassie Swayze, After School Programs Associate AmeriCorps VISTA

For the next week and a half, our 2011-2012 community of teaching artists launch into our Fall training intensive.  I am very excited to meet our newest cohort of teachers and welcome our returning TAs to Theatre Action Project (TAP) After-School.

Yesterday was our first training day with new, returning, elementary, and middle school Teaching Artists: nearly fifty in attendance! We packed the Ruiz Branch library and played games like Chair Swap and Superhero Factory. In Superhero Factory, teams of Teaching Artists put their heads together to create a new hero using one unique trait from each person. Using their newly acquired superhero traits they posed for the rest of the team. The activity was goofy and fun, but led to a discussion about how this game could inspire the 4C’s in students.

The TAP After-School team is so lucky to have so many intelligent, engaging, and enthusiastic Teaching Artists this year. I can’t wait to see what our Superhero TAs create with their students this semester!

Donate Supplies to TAP After-School

by Cassie Swayze, After School Programs Associate AmeriCorps VISTA

Theatre Action Project (TAP) After-School is always looking for new, used, and unusual supplies to add to our Supply Area. We stock a lot of craft supplies including:

  • scissors
  • paper
  • glue
  • glitter
  • pom-poms
  • plus much more!

TAP’s supply arsenal isn’t limited to what you might find at Hobby Lobby, though. We acquire a lot of recycled and materials from thoughtful donors and local recycling centers like Ecology Action. Anything and everything a teaching artist might need including: shoe boxes, paper towel rolls, buttons, brads, bubble-wrap, bamboo, newspaper, is organized and housed at the TAP office.

There are a few easy ways to donate to TAP After-School. All donations are tax-deductible and will be used to inspire learning in a TAP classroom throughout the school year. You can visit our Amazon Wishlist to donate either:

You can donate directly through Amazon and your purchase will be shipped to TAP. Or you can drop off gently used books, electronics (digital cameras, tripods), school, and craft supplies to the TAP office. Contact Cassie Swayze at cassie@theatreactionproject.org or 512-442-8773 x109 to arrange a time to donate.

Summer Pageant: Exploring How our Food Grows

by Cassie Swayze, After School Programs Associate AmeriCorps VISTA

This Saturday is our annual Summer Pageant in the Park and my second year participating in the spectacle. Exploring the idea of How Our Food Grows, we added a few new books to the Theatre Action Project (TAP) library to teach students about harvesting, planting, and exploring a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

The Vegetables We Eat by Gail Gibbons is a straightforward approach to growing vegetables from seed to table. Gail Gibbons’ books are always educational, beautifully illustrated, and well suited for any classroom of students. Eight groups of vegetables are identified using cheerful pictures and descriptions. This book was useful to our Summer Pageant in the Park classes as they chose vegetables to create for each season that will be presented at the event. The Vegetables We Eat is a valuable educational tool for students learning about growing, harvesting, and eating healthy food.

The Reason for Seasons by Gail Gibbons provides a simple explanation of why the seasons change, how seasons are different on other sides of the globe, different types of clouds, and much more! The Reason for Seasons is more appropriate for an older group of students than The Vegetables We Eat, but its illustrations are equally colorful and engaging.

Our Summer Pageant in the Park features work from nine schools and building large-scale puppets, costumes, and masks for 180 students is no small feat! A big TAP-tastic thank you to our After-School volunteers who generously donated over 80 hours this month in the classroom preparing for this event:

  • Lucie Cunningham
  • Katie Davis
  • Margarita Hutchinson
  • Chris Ledesma
  • Kat Townsend
  • Susan Reifsteck
  • Sweta Vakani
Join this Saturday, June 23rd for Summer Pageant in the Park at 10 a.m. Students will gather at the Sustainable Food Center Farmers’ Market Downtown to march in a grand procession of the year’s seasons, bringing all their puppets together culminating in a visual and aural spectacle. The public is invited to join the parade. The FREE family event will be followed by fun watermelon-eating and seed-spitting contests hosted by the Farmer’s Market as part of the Watermelon Festival.

P.S. I never went to summer camp growing up, but my favorite summertime memory was playing on the beach in San Diego with my sisters. We went every day all summer for twelve years!

The 4 C’s in Action in TAP After School

by Natalie Goodnow, Artistic Associate

All of Theatre Action Project’s (TAP) programs seek to inspire young people to become 4 C students: Creative Artists, Courageous Allies, Critical Thinkers, and Confident Leaders in their communities.  We’ve seen some fabulous examples of the 4 C’s in action in TAP After School (TAPAS) throughout the course of the spring semester.  Check it out:

Creative Artists are people who express their thoughts, opinions, and feelings through an artistic medium. 
Some shining examples of creative artistry took place in Teaching Artist Mitch Bowman’s 3rd-5th grade TAPAS class this spring, in which students spent the semester studying elements in the Sensory Alphabet: Line, Shape, Light, Motion, Color and Space.  They applied this knowledge in the creation of a gorgeous shadow puppet play, “Musicians of the Sun,” based on an ancient Aztec myth about how color and music came to our world.

Courageous Allies are people who recognize injustice, demonstrate empathy for others who are targets of injustice, and identify themselves as courageous bystanders so as to address injustices.
Check out this commercial for “The Courageous Kit,” created by 4th and 5th graders of Smith Elementary with Teaching Artist Christin Davis.  It’s a FANTASTIC example of Courageous Allies in action!  It’ll teach you how to be a courageous bystander!  And it’s funny, too!


Critical Thinkers are people who understand diverse perspectives, evaluate the consequences of their choices, actively question and engage in their world.
The short play “Voices,” written and performed by students of Del Valle Middle School, with the guidance of Teaching Artist Sophi Hopkins, premiered at the TAP Youth Arts Fest on May 12, 2012.  I believe it’s one of the best examples of young people engaging in critical thinking through art that you will ever find.

Confident Leaders are people who demonstrate community consciousness by designing creative projects aimed at addressing a need in that community.
We are so proud of the Confident Leaders of Ojeda Middle School, led by Teaching Artist Moeko Crider, whose lightbox animation film “So We All May Live” also premiered at the TAP Youth Arts Fest this May.  Their animation aims to address pressing ecological needs in our global community by exploring human impacts on the environment in different parts of the world through the eyes of our animal friends.


Congratulations to all of our TAPAS Teaching Artists on a stunningly successful spring semester!

Wrapping up the Active Play Project

by Sarah Rinner, Elementary School Program Director

TAP TA Kate Shaw guiding Creedmoor students

This year Theatre Action Project (TAP) embraced a new project in partnership with the University of Texas School of Public Health and funding support from St. David’s Foundation.  Our afterschool programs have always been active and artsy, but this project was a new intentional way for us to bring those two engaging elements together in the Bastrop and Del Valle communities.

The Active Play Project is a program that promotes student health by painting markings around the school playgrounds and sidewalks that facilitate physical activity and connect to academic learning.  TAP’s team of amazing Project Leaders led their afterschool youth in generating the marking designs, convening an action team of school personnel to support the project, and coordinating community painting days in April and May.  The 10-campus project was hugely successful, and students are already proudly sharing their paintings and how to interact with them with their peers and families.  We look forward to seeing the benefits of this engaging project for years to come.


The Active Play KXAN news article can be found here.

P.S. My favorite camp memory was playing Queen Bidgood in a dramatization of “King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub” during an art and drama camp at the school where my dad taught. My dad had gotten a real bathtub for us to use in acting out the play–hauled it into the art room and everything

Teaching Artist Reflects on School Year, Wonderful Students

by Nadia Rangel, Teaching Artist at Langford Elementary

The students at Langford Elementary are wonderful! They discussed and participated in activities that focused on being accepting of one another, and building self-esteem. Within a couple of weeks they had created a classroom community that they were proud of.

One of our projects included discussing different personality characteristics associated with various animals, and choosing one we felt most represented ourselves to turn into a mask. We had everything from an energetic, talented, and loyal bear to a friendly and sensitive rabbit. From this exercise the students:

  • Discovered similarities and differences they had with one another.
  • Discussed how they would prefer to be part of a diverse community.
  • Enjoyed being able to learn while making something fun that they could show off to their friends and family.

By the end of the year the students had worked on numerous activities. They were constantly making connections between their lives in school and at home with topics we had discussed in class. Early on in the year I discovered their love for writing. By the end of the semester they went home with a journal full of pages where they had been able to express their feelings on their home and school communities, as well as topics on bullying, and friendship.

The students at Langford Elementary are a wonderful group, and were a blast to work with. They found ways to inspire each other, and wound up becoming a very strong group of individuals.

Nadia Rangel is a Theatre Action Project (TAP) After-School K-2 teaching artist at Langford Elementary.

P.S. My favorite summer camp memory was getting to work on new projects and be creative.