Archive For The “Art, Music & Theater” Category

Avoiding the Dreaded Summer “Brain Drain” with Art & Edgar Degas

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So the Summer Family Fun Series continues, as does our art exploration. Last week we looked at Jackson Pollock thanks to a favorite little pig, Olivia. Since the story also contained “Ballet Rehearsal” by Edgar Degas, we figured why not explore Degas a bit further.

The same Classical Baby: The Art Show that we mentioned last week, also features the famous Edgar Degas painting, “Ballet Rehearsal” in a cleverly animated way.  Animation is a wonderful tool for introducing and engaging children in fine art. Here’s another example:

Another trick is using texture.  We love Make Van Gogh’s Bed because it showcases the artwork with a “touch the art” feature on each page. Check out “L’Etoile” below with the tulle skirt.

Touch the Art feature in Make Van Gogh's Bed

Touch the Art feature in Make Van Gogh’s Bed

Again, there are many great resources on Amazon or in your local libraries, these include: Degas and the Little Dancer, Junior Edgar Degas His Life and Art, and a personal favorite board book: Dancing with Degas. The Junior Edgar Degas is of particular interests as it is an ebook with geography, vocabulary and critical thinking built into its interactive format. It also features a quiz and free supporting materials.

Art is a great summertime topic because it combines so many fun elements.  Take this Edgar Degas Coloring Book, something the littlest ones and older ones can enjoy together, especially if combined with the Dancing with Degas board book as mentioned above. Older siblings can use both of these to engage younger siblings.  Art projects are great for rainy summer days or as a distraction from the heat… check out this Edgar Degas idea from The Crafty Crow.

For more Degas fun, visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art for the Dancers and Degas interactive online exhibit and tool kit.  We conclude our Edgar Degas round-up with a word search by

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Avoiding the Dreaded Summer “Brain-Drain” With Art & Jackson Pollock

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Finally, the summer has arrived and as much as we’ve all anticipated and waited and waited and waited for it… we dread the much feared “summer brain drain” syndrome.

At Homeroom At Home, we feel the summer offers the perfect time for crafting and art exploration. Many stores stock up on inexpensive crafting supplies and kits, so be sure to check out what is available and of interest. Perhaps, keep a small bin full of “rainy day projects” or add-on crafts.

In terms of introducing and exploring the mystery and fascination of fine art, consider the following fun example:Art Appreciation for Kids

My four year old loves the character Olivia… you know the adorable pink pig always dressed in red and black doing most adorable things. Well in the story titled Olivia this little pig takes a family trip to the art museum whereby the author/illustrator, Ian Falconer depicted two famous pieces of work – “Ballet Rehearsal” by Edgar Degas and “Autumn Rhythm #30” by Jackson Pollock.  So right there in the middle of a children’s story is the perfect opportunity to lightly discuss two very famous artists.  Now take this one step further with tools like Classical Baby: The Art Show, which also highlights a famous Jackson Pollock piece: “Number 1A”.  Sure this DVD is designed with babies in mind but seriously it is perfect for a backdrop while doing a simple craft or coloring. The art comes to life with classical music… and has been a favorite ever since we popped it in. Relaxing, inspiring and just amazing.  Now that we’re on a roll… let’s look at another favorite: Picasso That’s Who by Hope Harris.  We love this CD that highlights many famous artist and holds an underlying message that anyone can be an artist.  Be sure to check out the first track A-C-T-I-O-N which is all about Jackson Pollock, but the entire album is upbeat and inspirational.  You can check out our previous review here.  And then there are other resources for children, check out your local library or Amazon for the following cool titles: Jackson Pollock (Life and Work Of…), Jackson Pollock (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists), and Action Jackson, not to mention this awesome book of activities called Dad’s Book of Awesome Projects, which offers a DIY Jackson Pollock activity. So many options, so much fun… and learning all the while.

This of course is only one example. Look to do the same with Edgar Degas or Picasso. This was not a sponsored post, although we do have an affiliation with Amazon. These suggestions and opinions are strictly my own. Enjoy and have some artistic fun this summer.

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Timeless Classic Wizard of Oz

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Kimmel Center presents Wizard of Oz on Broadway

Tea with Dorothy from Wizard of Oz


Having grown up with re-enactments of the Munchkins and Dorothy, it was a pleasure to find that my daughter is just as in love with this old time classic as I was, in fact more so. I remember from my childhood, a particular cousin being talented enough to “do the voices” for ALL the characters. I would make her tell the entire story, songs and all each time she spent the night. In fact, I should ask her to record herself reading the story for all of our little munchkins now – what a sweet treat that would be.

Anyway, all these years later – 75 to be exact and the Wizard Of Oz still holds a special place in our hearts and imaginations. It’s such a story that takes you on a journey, allowing our minds to creatively travel from one world to another.

A few weeks back my daughter and I were invited to Tea with Dorothy with friends. DSCN0471We had yummy treats and tasted many tea variations but the best part was taking pictures with Dorothy in front of the yellow brick road. We were extended passes to the Philadelphia Broadway production of Wizard of Oz for this evening. We couldn’t be more thrilled to share an evening out – just us – on my birthday – with Dorothy!! We’ll post an update once we’ve seen the show but for now here are some details on the production:

Wizard of Oz is being held at the Academy of Music Philadelphia Tuesday, June 3 – Sunday, June 8. Expect the classic characters and story, adapted for live theater and some special effects. We are excited to hear (and possible sing along with) all the classic Wizard Of Oz songs too. Friday, June 6th performance is designated as an ASL & AD Performance with more information available on the Kimmel Center’s website.

At Homeroom At Home we love pairing activities with learning fun trivia, so here are some websites with fun puzzles, toys and facts from the movie. Enjoy.

We are so excited to head off and meet the wizard, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.


Soooo what can we say?  It.Was.Amazing!! Very clever designs for the Wizard scenes, the “yellow brick road” and special effects made this a truly memorable performance.  The characters were brilliant, including a real Toto.  Dorothy of course stood out but the entrance of the evening was, with out a doubt, Glinda – breath-taking and radiant.  The Wicked Witch of the West was in full evil form and even surprised us with a visit in the balcony.  It was a birthday celebration not to be forgotten.  Below please find Victoria’s short video as she was full of anticipation and excitement.

wizard of oz

Disclosure: Performance tickets were provided for promotional purposes. The thoughts and opinions expressed herein are strictly mine.

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Phantom of the Opera at Academy of Music

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At The Phantom Of The Opera with Deb McMaster

At The Phantom Of The Opera with Deb McMaster

Finally my long-awaited opportunity to experience the one and only Phantom Of The Opera had arrived. It happened to be rather last minute plans, for which I am grateful because I don’t think I could have contained my excitement had it been on my calendar any long than a couple of days.  I had never seen this performance and purposefully refused to watch it on film until I’ve had such opportunity to see it performed live on Broadway.  And let me say… it was totally worth the wait!

Poetic and aesthetic, this spectacular performance was by far my favorite EVER.  The vocal and orchestra talent was breathtaking and perfectly matched with the story line and one another.  I was simply swept away with the costume design. Of course being a performance about an opera, scene after scene graced us with bold baroque and equally elegant costume creations.  If only they sold replicas of those gorgeous gowns during intermission. And then there’s the stage set – WOW – to describe the magnificent set would give too much away and it is truly something to been for itself.  Scene after scene I was mesmerized by the creativity of the set design and its ability to truly transport you into the production, into the storyline, into character and back in time.  Together these imaginative and artistically talented threads of costume, stage design, lighting & special effects and musical geniuses created a masterpiece of a web, which sung of captivated beauty beyond any written description.

Only a few days remain… book your tickets for Philadelphia’s Broadway show The Phantom Of The Opera.

Now showing through April 12th… The Phantom of the Opera.  Phantom of the Opera E-Card

As described via the Kimmel Center’s website:

Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s phenomenal musical success, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, is now on tour across North America. Critics are raving that this breathtaking production is “bigger and better than ever before.” This PHANTOM features a brilliant new scenic design by Paul Brown, Tony® Award-winning original costume design by Maria Björnson, lighting design by Tony® Award-winner Paule Constable, new choreography by Scott Ambler, and a new staging by director Laurence Connor. The production, overseen by Matthew Bourne and Cameron Mackintosh, boasts many exciting special effects including the show’s legendary chandelier. The beloved story and thrilling score – with songs like “Music of the Night,” “All I Ask Of You,” and “Masquerade” – is performed by a cast and orchestra of 52, making this PHANTOM one of the largest productions now on tour.

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Welcoming Spring with Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

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Finally a stretch of beautiful weather!!  What to do, what to do?

"Spring" Photo courtesy of MuralArtsProgram

“Spring” Photo courtesy of MuralArtsProgram

But before the endless list of yard work and household projects settles in… think about taking advantage of the spring breeze with the kids.

Bubbles on the porch…

A bike ride

around the block…

Stroll through your local zoo…

Or for something unique & unexpected – visit the Philadelphia Mural Arts for a walking tour.


“Building The City” photo courtesy of MuralArtsProgram

While the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program offers several tour options (including two new ones as mentioned below), please note that there are murals only viewable if on foot.  The Mural Arts Program offers two walking tours: Mural Mile North and Mural Mile South, both available as guided tours through the city.

The two newest guided tours are Philadelphia’s Reimagined Landscapes Mural Tour and America’s First Highway Mural Tour.  Each as described below per the press release information provided by Mural Arts Program.  Click here for more information on tours, schedules, group tours and pricing. The Mural Arts Program of Philadelphia offers a variety of Youth Education Programs and has partnered with Commissioner Arthur C Evans and the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) on an upcoming Mural Arts Program in 2014 called the “Porch Light Project” featuring “a series of powerful murals that showcase how participatory public art can be used in addressing a variety of behavioral health challenges” (Press Release April 1, 2014).

Philadelphia’s Reimagined Landscapes Mural Tour travels through Philadelphia

"Kensington" photo courtesy of MuralArtsProgram

“Kensington” photo courtesy of MuralArtsProgram

neighborhoods Frankford and Kensington to share stories of Philadelphia’s 17th, 18th, and 19th century commercial corridors, when the entire industrial area was known as the ‘Workshop of the World.’ Visitors view modern-day murals, listen to their stories, and discover how time changed these reimagined rust belt neighborhoods into reinvigorated 21st-century residential and creative arts enclaves.”

America’s First Highway Mural Tour travels along the

"How We Fish" photo courtesy of MuralArtsProgram

“How We Fish” photo courtesy of MuralArtsProgram

country’s first highway, Lincoln Highway, also known as Route 30. Visitors learn about how the highway was born, where it started and ended, and view murals that dot the landscape on this tour through  culture-rich West Philadelphia.”

Disclosure: This was not a sponsored post.  I was invited to attend a media review but was not compensated for this article.  The thoughts and opinions expressed herein are strictly mine.

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I Love Lucy Live on Philadelphia Broadway

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I Love LucyWho doesn’t remember, much less love, the “I Love Lucy” show? All of Lucy’s antics – you just never knew what trouble she was going to get herself into. Don’t miss your opportunity to relive Lucy’s silliness with the “I Love Lucy” on Broadway in Philadelphia at the Merriam Theater. It’s only showing for a few short days: Dec 26th through Dec 29th. This live stage production takes you behind the scenes as the studio audience for the taping of two well known episodes.

For seating and ticket information, please visit the Kimmel Center’s website. The Kimmel Center Box Office is open daily from 10am – 6pm. The Call Center is open daily from 9am – 8pm. Call 215-731-3333 for Broadway tickets.

Kimmel Center members receive a 10% discount with Promo Code KCMEM1314!

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Jersey Boys on Broadway: Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

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jersey boys ecardIf you are looking for a WOW show… Jersey Boys, the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, is the one for you!  Warning: adult language and themes, but the music and stage performances are amazing.  My suggestion – parents take advantage of this opportunity to reconnect with the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in this “behind-the-scenes” production.  Then, with a renewed energy for this genre of musical excellence, pull out your CD’s (or cassettes/records – lol), and bookmark a couple favorites from iTunes or YouTube and introduce Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons to your children.


(Remembering this song from Dirty Dancing.)

Fun ways to do so… grab a suit jacket from the back of your closet and mimic some of the simple swaying moves, or dress Ken dolls in their suits and line up like a stage performance.  Just like Jersey Boys on Broadway, use the music to help tell the story… and tell your story while listening or between YouTube uploads.  What childhood memories come back?  What BIG dreams did you have growing up?  How and when did you listen to music back then, unlike the constant stream and availability that is today’s norm? It’s so easy to get caught up in the Pop Charts top ten but how sad would it be if our children didn’t know the likes of Elvis, Sinatra, The Four Seasons, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Miles Davis, Paul McCartney and so many other great musical talents.  I truly believe that as parents we need to find and take advantage of every opportunity to introduce and celebrate these great artists with our families.  Had Jersey Boys not had such strong language I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it for a family outing.  I’m sure the inclusion of this type of dialog is intended to bring a certain authenticity to the performance more than just shock value.  So, we’ll just chalk this performance up to “research” for us parents.

Jersey Boys is running at the Forrest Theater in Philadelphia from December 11th through January 5th.  For more information on tickets, parking and pricing, please visit:

(A favorite – bringing me back to my marathon Grease watching days!!!)

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Beauty and the Beast Live on Broadway

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Beauty and the Beast cardDisney’s Beauty and the Beast is such a beloved story, and what better way to relive it than live on Broadway.  Join  Belle, Gaston, Maurice, Beast and the whole castle staff in this Tony Award winning musical set a quiet French village.

You and the family can enjoy this tale at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia from November 26 through December 1st.  For show times, tickets, parking info and more, visit the Academy of Music here.

The show runs 2 hours and 30 minutes with one 15 min intermission. Beauty and the Beast is appropriate for all ages.

Nothing takes the place of a live theater audience and full on-stage production of a favorite story.  With every detail in the costumes, props, orchestral music and stage sets, it’s living art unfolding in front of you scene by scene.
Update: Dec 1st my daughter and I had the pleasure of attending the Beauty and the Beast musical at the Academy of Music… and it completely lived up to our expectations. Character after character sang beautifully well and the set design was a masterpiece in itself. My daughter, being 3 years old, wanted to dance in the aisle and eventually whispered in my ear that she wished to be on stage. I love how Beauty and the Beast held her attention and provided this unforgettable glow of excitement.

Live theater can provide more than an afternoon of entertainment; it can ignite a passion for the arts – whether creative writing or production set design or any number of artistic avenues. Broadway musicals and theater unlocks the door to a child’s imagination. I saw this first hand, when my daughter decided to play Beauty and the Beast with her Barbies and Disney princess dolls – setting them up like the Beauty and the Beast show. My husband and I took advantage of this opportunity and helped her play this story out. Here’s our video below. Two days later, with Barbies in every space of her room, I found that she had set up yet another “production” on her own with a much smaller audience. She designed a run-way stage and said it was Cinderella’s turn. Thanks to Beauty and the Beast on Broadway, my daughter as a fresh idea in playing with her Barbies, accessories and things around her to expand her imaginative play. I love that.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post – we were either compensated or given product for review. The opinions expressed within this article are strictly mine.

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