Rainforest Thank You

The second graders at PS 50 wrote this lovely thank you letter at the end of our Rainforest video project this Spring. I have not received anything like it since I student taught first grade in Terry Ashley's class at the Marion Cross School in Norwich, VT, and the class wrote me a couple of collective thank you letters, referring to all the fun we had had with our studies of fairies. . .
To come back to PS 50 (in East Harlem, first school for my friend/colleague Rebekah Marler-Mitchell to head up as principal, after a successful career as early childhood educator): this Spring I made four original video stories with one second grade class and three original travel shows with a fourth grade class, and we all viewed them together on the last day. The second grade videos were imaginative story-plays woven together from several days the children spent playing and narrating their stories in the Rainforest Library. The fourth grade travel shows provided information from the students' in-class research and interviews with teachers from the school who had visited various rainforests of the world. Doing both projects simultaneously was an exciting way to explore two developmentally appropriate uses of the video medium. And perhaps more importantly, making videos with students was the perfect way to explore the completely original phenomenon of an actual public school Rainforest Library! Every school in NYC should have one, or something similarly un-characteristic to New York. . . truly mind-expanding, giving children entering the space a reason to feel in awe of reading and its relationship to the world at large.


Little Creatures

As of this summer, I am formally refocusing my children and video energies into making Little Creatures, my new film company, a reality. I am currently writing and rewriting my business plan, which I have submitted and will submit to future business plan competitions, reading everything I can about the film and children's media businesses, and talking to people in these fields. My hope is that Little Creatures will receive seed money from an angel investor within the next year, so that I can complete Mysteries in the Woods and also produce another short film I am currently planning to make with children in Brooklyn, which I believe could revolutionize the children's film genre. If you know of any potential funders, do send them my way, and I will gladly provide business plan and work samples. I am also seeking families who would like to participate in my market research, which will consist of viewing a DVD compilation of my short films with their children, and answering a few questions about the films and their children's interaction with them. The data that I gather from these ongoing conversations with parents and children will help me to frame my work in the context of what media is out there for children, what is needed, and how my work can better fill that gap and flourish as a viable option for parents to buy and view with their young children. Perhaps these conversations will bring similar endorsements to what I have heard so far:

• Kristin captured the authentic sights and sounds of childhood . . . she uses her camera as a lens into the deepest inner-workings of a child’s mind . . .
- Vivian Gussin Paley, author of 12 books on the lives of young children

• The remarkable videos made by Kristin are unique in their ability to bring us into the very life of childhood play itself. Wonderful as tools for teaching the importance of play - or as a means to validate for children why their playing is always meaningful, these videos should be made available to anyone who cares for what learning and education need to be about – and could become.
- Richard Lewis, Director of the Touchstone Center for Children

• I believe that, in honoring children’s play, Kristin’s movies will also help audiences reflect and learn about the overall experience of being human.
- Olga Hubard, Assistant Professor of Art Education, Columbia University Teachers College

• I would gladly support more initiatives such as these that speak to the true essence of childhood and would rather put my dollars in movies and projects like these.
- Kathy Malone, Clothing Designer and Mother of Milo (10), Brooklyn, NY

I am very interested to compile specific reactions of parents and children to my films, which will help me immensely as I restructure future projects, and which will strengthen the argument for making more of these films, as only research can do.