The Expressive Arts Program, created three decades ago by Elyse Jacobs, has helped children learn to identify their feelings and to express themselves through art and puppet play. The program allows children to work with a wide variety of artistic materials as a tool for “open-ended” artistic expression, problem solving, social skills and emotional intelligence. Expressive Arts is a unique and vital part of the Pacific Primary experience. The program provides bi-weekly experiences for small groups of children to visit the program and make art and play with puppets. The specialists scaffold the children’s work and help each child reach the next level of independent creativity. Children use tape, beads, ribbon, colored wire, fabric, and an endless variety of other “found materials and loose parts” to create art. Elyse is celebrating 30 years as our Expressive Arts Specialist and is now at the Orange Sun School.
The Expressive Arts Program originated as a peace-education program that used puppets to help children learn basic social and emotional skills. This focus remains a core concept of the program, as do the puppets. Several puppets, including Turtle and SuperSeaweed, have nurtured generations of Pacific Primary students. Teachers frequently use puppets to explore difficult social issues that inevitably arise during the school year. These issues include making and maintaining friendships, entering play, inclusion and exclusion, fears and anxieties, appreciation of differences, and personal loss.