Bringing out the inner artist during Panther Play Date

A day away from school doesn't have to mean a day away from friends and fun.

Panther Play Date
The theme for this year's Panther Play Date is Folktales Throughout the World so children will explore storytelling, cultures and the arts all in one day.

On Friday, Feb. 28, area elementary school students will be on campus for Panther Play Date. This popular event, which began in fall 2013, gives youngsters the opportunity to participate in drama, movement, music and visual art activities.

"Not only do we want to provide a safe, 'no school' environment for students and families, but we also want to provide an active, arts-learning environment," says Amy Hunzelman, director of education and special programs at Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center (GBPAC). "This year's theme is Folktales Throughout the World, so children will explore storytelling, cultures and the arts all in one day!"

Panther Play Date activities will be led by UNI elementary education and theatre students. First- through third-grade students will learn about Mexican folktales, while fourth- through fifth-grade students will study Australian folktales. The collegians will also prepare participants for a mini-performance so parents can get a glimpse at the wide range of activities that took place during the day.

"The mini-performance allows the elementary students to showcase what they learned and what they understand through an art form such as movement, drama and visual art," says Hunzelman.

Proceeds from Panther Play Date support the GBPAC Kaleidoscope Connections program, which collaborates with students and faculty from the College of Education. For example, education majors visit area schools before and after each GBPAC performance to help students connect the show they'll be seeing to what they're learning in school or at home.

Learn more about Panther Play Date and the Kaleidoscope Connections program at