Chautauqua Children’s School Celebrates ‘Big Art’



What do a ball of yarn, a piece of chalk and a toilet plunger have in common?

Nothing — unless you were at Children’s School last Wednesday.

The Week Two theme was “Big Art Everywhere,” and Heidi Zarou made sure the activities lived up to the name.

“We’re really just trying to tap into children’s imaginations and expressions,” said Zarou, a former classroom teacher and current art instructor for Children’s School. “It’s just a natural gift in children that seems to get squelched the older that they get.”

There were six activity stations on the playground. In “Spiderwebbing the spiderweb,” children strung different colored yarn throughout the webbed rope climbing structure. It looked like a multi-colored spaghetti pile sans marinara.

“The favorite thing that I’ve done is the spiderweb,” said 5-year-old Tatum Bensink. “I like it when I get tangled.”

Bensink said her favorite yarn color is yellow because she’s in the Yellow Room. If someone were to tell her that art is unnecessary for kids, she has a spirited reply ready.

“I would say art is fun, and I want to do it,” she said.

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Other activities included “Fabric Weaving on the Spinny Top” and “Tennis Ball Blanket Painting.” In “Drawing to the Music,” the kids lined up along white banner while a stereo played different types of music. Using markers and crayons, they drew what they heard.

And then there was “Plunger Painting.”

The kiddos wielded painty plungers (earmarked for art and not for plumbing) and worked intently, layering hundreds of rainbow paint circles on two laid-out canvases.

“It’s just messy and fun and exciting and magical as they watch colors transform into new colors,” Zarou said. “Kids don’t get to do that at home, and a lot of times not in school, either. We like confined, orderly activities and we don’t celebrate the big messes very much.”

Six-year-old Jack Scherman drew a baseball field with sidewalk chalk, but said the plungers were still his favorite.

During the school year, Zarou teaches elementary school students in Brooklyn, New York. She praised the work of her Children’s School colleagues.

“Working with this staff is phenomenal, bringing ideas from all over the world and sharing those ideas and collaborating,” she said. “It’s the highlight of my year.”

Lindsey O'Laughlin

The author Lindsey O'Laughlin

Lindsey O’Laughlin writes about the arts and politics. Read more of her work at