Woodland Pattern: Summer Programs for Kids

by Mary Vuk

Woodland Pattern is perhaps best known for sponsoring dozens of readings by accomplished poets and writers each year. But Woodland Pattern also schedules between 22 and 32 educational workshops every year and participates in many other educational outreach programs at offsite locations in conjunction with a wide variety of partners.

Julie Strand, Education Coordinator, who schedules the adult and children’s workshops and outreach programs at Woodland Pattern, also teaches in the after school workshops at the Book Center and in the workshops sponsored by Arts @ Large in the Milwaukee Public Schools.

Arts @ Large is a program that provides resources to MPS teachers to use visual and literary arts, theatre, dance and music in their classrooms. Woodland Pattern works in conjunction with Arts @ Large in these public school programs.

In March and April, Strand worked with kindergartners, 1st, 4th and 5th graders at Pierce Elementary School and the Milwaukee Sign Language School, where she taught bookmaking and led writing workshops. Jackie Lalley and Marina Lee, both of Riverwest, also taught in these programs. The book art created by the younger children, along with the anthologies of the poems written by the older students, will be on display at the Betty Brinn Museum in May.

During the summer, Woodland Pattern partners with UWM’s Talent Search to sponsor the Woodland Creatures Poetry Camp, which will be held June 19-24 this year. The camp is open to students in grades 6-12. In the mornings, there are writing workshops and appearances by guest artists. Last summer, actors from the Milwaukee Public Theater, an African drummer, a bookmaker, filmmaker and painter visited the Poetry Camp.

After lunch, the students go on a field trip to such destinations as the Milwaukee Sailing Center, the zoo, the museum, IMAX and Skate University.

For further information about applying to the camp, please call Talent Search at (414) 229-4162.

what does Strand foresee for Woodland Pattern educational programs in the near future?

For one, she wants to hold a family workshop at least once a year and would like the next one to be a music and writing workshop. In addition, Woodland Pattern is considering holding two sessions of its Poetry Camp next year because there is a demand for it. Strand is also interested holding a workshop for non-teaching writers and artists who would like to learn something about pedagogy and would also like to increase the number of workshops for professional teachers.

The recent renovation at Woodland Pattern included the creation of a children’s reading nook, an idea Strand had promoted. Strand, a Riverwest resident, finds her greatest joy in getting to know and recognizing many of the neighborhood children as a result of their participation Woodland Pattern’s after school and outreach programs in the schools. She loves to have them visit Woodland Pattern.

“I want to have more kids, more often,” Strand said. “And have them come here just to hang out. They can sit here and browse and read the books and put them back. I think that’s really good for kids to know that they can just do that. I want to become more involved in our neighborhood. The kids are real important because they come here all the time from third to fifth grade. I want to keep them around, not lose them in middle school.”

Riverwest Currents online edition – May, 2006