Kaleidoscope Series offers live performances for students

A school field trip is something almost every student looks forward to. Leaving behind the classroom for a day leads to an out of the ordinary educational experience. That's exactly the kind of experience the University of Northern Iowa's Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center (GBPAC) offers with Allen Hospital's Kaleidoscope Series for Youth.

Kaleidoscope kids

Schools from around northeast Iowa travel to UNI's GBPAC to attend a live performance from the Kaleidoscope Series.

Using the "A Buck A Kid" program, the Kaleidoscope Series is a great way for students to experience the excitement of live performances at the GBPAC. GBPAC executive director Steve Carignan developed the A Buck A Kid program in 2003 to build the Kaleidoscope audience. Ticket prices were dropped from $4 per student to $1 per student for all but a few select shows.

Most of the Kaleidoscope shows are designed to encourage audience participation and many of the performances thrive on the students being actively involved. The shows are so popular that they tend to sell out within the first few days or weeks of tickets sales.

Each year, schools from northeast Iowa get the opportunity to pick a performance from the series to attend. During the 2010-2011 season, more than 32,000 students and teachers from 31 counties in Iowa got to experience the Kaleidoscope Series.

"Our students love the music and thoroughly enjoy all aspects of the performance," said one eastern Iowa teacher. "The Kaleidoscope Series is usually the only live performance our students get to attend.

Kaleidoscope kids

Most of the Kaleidoscope shows are designed to encourage audience participation, while giving a great educational experience.

This year, 38 performances are scheduled at UNI and "on the road" throughout eastern Iowa. Audiences will get the chance to watch everything from Twinkle Twonkle, a new show inspired by Mother Goose's beloved nursery rhymes and the science of our solar system, to the classic folk story of The Frog Prince by the Brothers Grimm.

Katie Kregel's students from Wings Park Elementary in Oelwein are going to their first show in October. "I have never been to a Kaleidoscope Series performance, so we really look forward to coming!" said Kregel.

Before hopping on the bus to UNI, students get to learn a little bit about their trip by downloading study guides and curriculum materials for every Kaleidoscope Series performance.  And, for selected shows, the Kaleidoscope Connections program is available for additional classroom experiences.

Kaleidoscope Connections collaborates with students and faculty from the UNI College of Education. Education students visit area schools and implement a lesson before and after each performance. Through this program, classroom students are able to gain a better understanding of what they are about to see at the GBPAC and how the performance relates to what they are studying or experiencing at home.

The first Kaleidoscope Series performance is Oct. 14. The sold out crowd will get to meet Skippyjon Jones, a little kitten with big ears and even bigger dreams, and spend the day exploring the arts.

For more information on the Kaleidoscope Series, visit www.gbpac.org.