Plays, Poetry, Puppets and More: WordPlay FREE Summer Programs Promote Literacy Through the Arts

With help from a skilled group of teaching artists, WordPlay’s summer workshops had more than 70 kids dancing, drumming, painting, writing and more, all while building literacy skills through the arts.

Highlights included:

  • Liz Wu led a bang-up Drumming & Storytelling workshop. Learning about the unique language of music, young participants created their own percussion instruments, including shakers and rain sticks. They then used these instruments to accompany stories, poems and raps they wrote themselves

  • Spring Starr Pillow led a dramatic Story Play workshop. Energetic days filled with improv games and public speaking exercises culminated in a group performance of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree for parents, relatives and friends. The kids also created their own “giving tree,” made up of paper branches and fruit that displayed words conveying the gifts they bring to the world.

  • Terrence Burke of Wump Mucket Puppets led a weeklong Puppets Telling Stories session. Participants created hand made puppets and worked as a group to write a story featuring their creations. After some practice with a real-live puppet stage, the kids performed a puppet show at the end of the week.

  • Teisha Murray led an energetic Rhythm & Rhymes session to close out the month of June. As WordPlay staff and volunteers packed up to prepare for the organization’s new temporary home, young learners and session volunteers spent the week enthusiastically learning a choreographed dance to the foot-tapping beat of Shel Silverstein’s poem “Sick.”

  • Led by WordPlay’s own teaching artist and staff member Desirae Hosley, Human w(R)ites, in its third consecutive summer, allowed teens from across Cincinnati (and the world!) to discuss and write about current events and social justice issues. As they reflected on their place in the world, the writers prepared work to submit to “What You Need to Know About Me,” an anthology publication through the Hawkins Project. This fund, created by international best-selling and award-winning author Dave Eggers, supports courageous literary, visual, public, and other creative works with a special emphasis on supporting youth writing centers around the world.

WordPlay is proud to offer these free summer workshops (and other programs throughout the year) thanks to support from our generous donors. Special thanks goes to the following foundations for their support of WordPlay’s 2019 summer workshops:

Agnes Nordloh Charitable Trust E.W. Scripps Foundation Maxwell Weaver Foundation Robert A. & Marian K. Kennedy Trust U.S. Bank Foundation

Join the fun! To make your donation, visit

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