Virtual Kids Workshops from Local Favorites

January 03, 2021

This month, three of our favorite humans are sharing their talents with your children through the Spark Your Imagination series—dance instructor Fabienne Beard-Wright, cooking instructor Kate Sonders Solomon, and Amanda Hsiao of The Observatory Shop in Hastings-on-Hudson. Plus, for each family that registers, they’ll be donating free access to a family in need!

With so many people at home, many having limited access to affordable arts activities, these three Rivertowns artists have come together to offer a unique virtual kids experience. They’ll be sensational textile illusions, fantastical baking, and spectacular Afrobeats dance workshops—all from the comfort of home.

We connected with Fabienne, Kate, and Amanda to discover what ‘sparked’ this collaboration.

How did the three of you decide to collaborate?
Fabienne: I wanted to create an offer that encompassed at least 3 different art forms. So I reached out to my good friend Kate Sonders. Kate is no stranger to remote, Zoom-led instruction—she hosts the best interactive cooking classes!
Kate: I brought in Amanda as the point to our triangle because she’s super creative, great with kids, plus we really wanted a textile artist to compliment the dance/movement and baking.

How were you inspired by the movie Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, and how is it related to this workshop series? 
Fabienne: The film highlights Black girl magic, strength of family, math and imagination, dance and African heritage, and humor. It’s a reminder of what we should all hold dear and never lose sight of: passion and purpose. I want to convey the same message through these workshops. The Spark of Imagination was created with the whole family in mind, a means of jump-starting and heartening our outlook of 2021 through the arts.

What’s your favorite part about teaching kids?
Fabienne: I love to see kids light up when they dance, the freedom they feel is powerful. Some kids actually communicate best through movement. It’s amazing to witness how dance can brighten spirits, dispel bad moods, and foster trust. I truly believe the arts, dance specifically, is a catalyst for social change.
Kate: I love seeing kids try new foods for the first time, to watch them grow in skill. It is deeper than just teaching them to cook. See a child blossom in the kitchen and developing independence and confidence is really profound.
Amanda: Nothing makes me happier then seeing children learn to knit. There is more math and engineering then even adults realize. So when a child can master it, it totally blows my mind! Science is everywhere!

What do you need on-hand in preparation for your workshops?
Fabienne: The dance workshop does not require props. Participants are invited to submit a recording of themselves dancing. We plan to construct a ‘music video’ of all participating dancers. A finished product of this shared experience, and a keepsake from the workshop.
For my class, kids will be making microwave mug cinnamon rolls. So, families will need a microwave in order to complete the lesson. I send the recipe and ingredient list to parents when they sign up, most ingredients they will likely already have at home.
Amanda: The textile illusion is creating a 3D stuffed animal out of a flat knit square. (The end result looks way more sophisticated than the beginning!) You’ll need: Yarn in 2 colors in a worsted weight (the most common size), needles, scissors, a tapestry needle, a
pom-pom maker (can be purchased or made from cardboard), and poly-fill stuffing (I recycled an old stuffed animals I had laying around ♻️).

Get access to these imaginative and playful activities all month long for $75—and for each purchase, they will gift the Spark of Imagination to a family in need! HudCo members get access for free, just check the member portal benefits for your promo code.