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156. Ohkay Owingeh on Winter Solstice Night

We have been given a rare gift. In the Fall of 2016 we began teaching in three village schools of the Española Valley school district. To see why it is such a gift requires stepping back from the immediacy of 21st century America.

Northern New Mexico is a rare jewel on this planet. You have to see it and feel it to begin to know just how extraordinary it is. And yet, many miss it. It does not yield to hostile or opportunistic brains. It is a powerful maternal land. It has a different rhythm, long and slow...ancient...soft, yet potent. Anthropologists have called the Rio Grande "the Nile of the Southwest" because of its rich and ancient pre-Columbian living heritage. Like so many of the special places of this Earth, it defies mediocrity. If you're open to it, it provides a nourishment that originates beyond the stars.

One of the schools we've had the privilege to work in is San Juan Elementary. It's in the village of Ohkay Owingeh, previously known as San Juan Pueblo. This is the birth place of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, which is the only successful revolt of indigenous Americans against European colonization...ever! So there is something very powerful and protective about this a mother for her young. In fact, Ohkay Owingeh means 'place of the strong people'.

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155. IZ Journeys Israel

This summer we were invited to teach in Israel. The invitation came from a most special village in the Northern Galilee called Ma'ale Tzvia. The following story can barely touch the feeling of appreciation, love and honor we hold after having been given such a rare and beautiful opportunity. Nevertheless, it is offered here to our known and unknown community of creative educators around the world as a signal of strength and hope.

Stories within stories within stories...

Chapter 1 ~ Insight

This story begins with our last night in Israel. We are in the ancient port city of Jaffa in a restaurant called Blackout. The waiters are blind and the chefs and staff are deaf and/or blind. We are there courtesy of Melli's amazing dance teacher and dear friend, "T". They had not seen each other since coming together to Israel from South Africa in 1976 to start a dance school. Yes, 40 years.

Our stories are threads in tapestries, made of light and sound, vibrancy, depth and dimension.

Here we were, eating the most flavorful, sensuous food in total darkness. There are many people in the room. You can hear them, feel them, smell them...but you cannot see each other. You cannot move without a blind escort. It was marvelous. So private and yet intimate; so freeing of visual inhibitions and yet helplessly dependent on the guidance of the blind, who navigate the sightless world with quiet grace. Read more

154. Beyond Equality

Here is a little story. This winter and spring we did a multiage program called Wild and Free in a Santa Fe School. It explores endangered species and their habitats, ecosystems and biomes, biodiversity and sustainability. The story involves the fourth grade class.

We were into our fourth session with the fourth graders working on a newly arriving song about Biomes and Biodiversity. It was cool. We feel incredibly honored to introduce such vital concepts through the arts.

There was a wonderful creative atmosphere in the room. It always comes with a certain look in the eyes. Something spontaneous, new and green was appearing. First there was the rhythmic rap to the words - "Biosphere, Biomes, Biodiversity". Then an accompanying line showed up - "The earth is a place of variety. Variety is the spice of life."

Everybody was into it. Here they were expressing values and concepts they cared about. Especially 'biodiversity' - the fact that bio diverse systems thrive.

Now we needed something to describe each of the earth's major biomes, and then the breakthrough moment came.

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153. Wonderful Time Zone Song & Video

A Day Around The World

A truly wonderful exercise is to imagine what is happening right now in different time zones around the world. What are people doing right now in Madagascar, or in New Zealand, or in Japan? You have to know what time of day it is there, what season it is, what climate, what the place is like and what people do there.

Here is a song that travels around the world through the international time zones.

"A Day Around the World" helps children explore concepts to do with the world clock, why we have standardized time zones, their origins and history.

Teaching compassion and diversity comes naturally when children are mindfully, heartfully introduced to world cultures through geography, story and song... May this song be a joyful companion and springboard into discovery of the extraordinary planetary theater we all play a part in.


152. Spring News 2016

Dear friends, family and fans,
We have exciting news from Talking Hands Talking Feet! This year we are doing our first multiage arts integrated residencies in two Santa Fe public schools; we did a professional development intensive for teachers at the MSU Riley Center in Meridian, Mississippi; we have been invited to Israel to conduct a summer camp, teacher trainings and public performances in July; and this fall we break ground on new construction for an expanded and more versatile Humming Grove Center.

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151. Art Is A Process, Not A Product

WTOK TV news report

"It is all about promoting the arts as a tool for learning. It's about teachers using the arts in their classrooms as a media of translation and full bodied expression of their curriculum content. It is a powerfully effective teaching methodology…"

Teacher Training in Action

Five o'clock, we wake up, showers, finish packing, take care of the dogs, the cats, the chickens, the boy, load the car and go! But it's been snowing for hours. We barely get out our long driveway to the road and then to I-25 where it's single lane travel at a dark, snowy, slippery 45 mph. We ain't gonna make our flight.

But then, as we descend 2000 feet into the Rio Grande Valley, the snow stops, the road clears and we hit cruise speed. Mississippi here we come!

A few hours later we land at the intergalactic airport of Meridian, with its one gate. Read more

150. New Geography Song

Genuine respect and curiosity about human life on this marvelous blue planet in all its diversity is artfully encouraged in the song New Geography for children ages 5-12.

New Geography Video

The song is written in the passionate belief that we humans can overcome prejudice and cultural bias by thoughtful and compassionate education.

"Sense of place" begins in early childhood. It is inextricably connected to our sense of belonging. How we engender sense of place in children is so important. It opens or closes minds and hearts.

The song New Geography helps to open the conversation about where we live. It helps us define "home" from local to global citizenship.

Children love to see how humans do things in different countries. The adventure into the world mosaic of human expression can begin at an early age - through language, music, story, art, dance, architecture, custom, costume, culture, history...There are so many ways to get to know the world.

Geography is about becoming intelligent caretakers of our home planet earth as bright lights in the world.

We hope you enjoy this wonderful song.

"North, South, East and West
Be a point of light upon the map
North, South, East and West
This is lesson one in Geography"


149. Learn To Express, Express To Learn

Arts Education and Arts Integrated Education need each other.

Arts Education is learning to express through art forms - music, dance, visual arts, poetry, drama...and more.
Arts Integrated Education is giving expression to learning through an art form (or forms) in order to assimilate, deepen and broaden one's understanding and to develop high function mental and emotional faculties.

Education, at its core, is truly one of the highest art forms.

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148. National Endowment for the Arts Thank You Story

This is the 50th anniversary of the NEA and to celebrate they are publishing “Our Story” from their recipients around the country. With gratitude for their generous contributions to Talking Hands Talking Feet and Songs To Educate, here is our little story.

Every year since 2008, our company, Talking Hands Talking Feet has received generous grants from NEA for our curriculum based performing arts programs in Santa Fe schools, under the fiscal sponsorship of Partners In Education.

Here is the remarkable story behind it.

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147. Foster Emotional Intelligence

The newly released "Human Body School" CD by Talking Hands Talking Feet, the teaching artistry of Songs To Educate, gives children an opportunity to learn about their bodies and their inner life through catchy, fun and theatrical songs. Teachers and parents can use these songs to bring human body studies alive whilst enhancing emotional intelligence.

watch Feeling Language video

The album is a whole body curriculum. Every single song is an enjoyable workshop. For example, the song "Feeling Language" has a wonderful lesson plan designed to foster emotional fluency and intelligence in primary school aged children. The summer blockbuster movie "Inside Out" has brought the subject of emotional 'intel' front and center in the minds of many parents and teachers.

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