Kaiwa's Story

What Kaiwa has to offer:

Enriching art opportunities for ages 1-12!


Studio Rates
Single 1.5 hour Class: $30/each +($5 materials fee) (except for Toddler classes)
KaiwaBot Membership ~ 5 Sessions: $22.50/each or $112.50 +($25 materials fee)
Kaiwa Kid Membership ~ 10 Sessions: $20/each or $200 (only $13.30/hour!) +($50 materials fee),

School Year Classes:

Textile & Fiber Arts, Toddler Time, Video & Sound Production, Inventor's Club, Animation & Game-making, Illustration & Storytelling, Fairies & Folklore, & Homeschool Enrichment weekly!  Each class is 1.5 hours (except morning Homeschool Enrichment).  All classes are ongoing throughout the season.  Purchase a 5 or 10 class punch card to receive a discount and enjoy greater flexibility with your schedule!

Summer Camps:

Ignite creativity with fun and interdisciplinary weekly themes!  Morning and afternoon sessions (drop-off). Ages 5-12. $250/Full week camp, or $50/camp/day

Open Studio and Play Time:
Saturdays 3-5 pm. With parental supervision - $5/hr +($5 materials fee). Drop off - $15/hr +($5 materials fee). 

Birthday Parties:

Plan your personalized art-party with Kaiwa!  Birthday parties at Kaiwa are special.  Keara Connor, owner and teacher, will work with you to plan a party (and curriculum) tailored to the interests of your child, from an adventure theme for a 2 year old with a space mission and science experiment, to a hand-made puppet show, or celebration of butterflies.  Keara also specializes in creating personalized "missions" for the birthday child and their friends to solve, creating art and inventions along the way.  Sometimes even a fire battalion chief will announce the mission!  Keara uses props, "documents," and acting to bring the mission alive for the children.  Excitement fills the room as the children collaborate to achieve their goals.  I recently overheard a birthday boy comment to his friend, "Isn't this the best birthday place ever?" 


Sundays, 2 hours, starting at time of your choosing.  Bring your own cake and refreshments.  $250 for up to 10 children.  Materials included!  Kaiwa Kid Membership - 10% off!

What does Kaiwa dream?

Kaiwa envisions a unique play space, art studio, and gallery for children to engage in conversations about the world  and share their ideas and creations with the community. 

Where did the idea for Kaiwa come from?

Kaiwa Art and Play Space is a project that emerges out of the educational experiences of art educator Keara Connor.  Keara has a Master's of Art Education, is certified to teach Pre-K-12, and is currently residing in Santa Cruz, CA.  Keara is the former Art Education Director of the Greensboro Children's Museum and has years of experience working with children in a variety of settings.  After moving to Santa Cruz in 2014, Keara taught for a year in an afterschool program at Westlake Elementary, where she started a weekly Inventor's Club, Science Club, Drama Club, and Computer Game-making Club.  In the Inventor's club, children invent wildly imaginative creations and present them to their peers at an informal "Invention Convention."  This club was hugely popular, with one grandparent commenting that his kindergartener now invents in his sleep. 

Keara wanted to build on the joy of this experience and others to reach further into the community.  To do so, Keara developed and nurtured the idea of Kaiwa Art and Play Space.  Kaiwa believes in the importance of spontaneity for play, artistic creation, and conversation.  In the Kaiwa experience, the teacher does not develop a pre-planned project for the students to follow.  Rather, the teacher engages in authentic and meaningful conversation with children of all ages to spark play, experimentation, and art-making.  The teacher is there to inspire excitement, ask questions, bring outside knowledge, critique, and praise.  The children gain confidence by problem-solving throughout the experience and sharing their work with others.  Keara Connor has witnessed the value of teaching with this model over and over and is thrilled to lead space for children dedicated to this purpose.  Kaiwa believes all children deserve to flourish!

What does Kaiwa believe?

Kaiwa (会話) means "conversation" in Japanese.  A conversation is unpredictable and unplanned.  It involves a meeting of different ideas and experiences.  An engaging conversation can reveal insights about ourselves and others like no other circumstance.  Kaiwa believes in the magic of spontaneity to reveal exciting ideas and new paths for work and learning.  While a simple prompt might spark an initial idea for play and art-making, the path from there is unchartered territory.  In Kaiwa's model, the art emerges from dialogue, play, and experimentation. 

The idea behind Kaiwa emerged as a process of discovery.  Early in her career, Keara realized that art education for children often involves a teacher-designed template for students to emulate.  For example, students in a class learning about Picasso might each paint a mixed-up portait, following the aesthetic of a well-honed example.  The individual product may be appealing and impressive, but put together on a wall, they will look largely the same.  Keara felt that if given the chance, children could engage in an authentic art practice personal to them and their growing understanding of the world.

Kaiwa believes that all children have their own stories to tell and wondrously different ways of telling them.  As Keara began to engage in conversations with children during art-making, asking silly and serious questions, she was amazed by the power of children to synthesize knowlegde, weave complex storylines, and experiment with materials in personal and novel ways.  She also quickly noticed the excitement of children when allowed to tell their own stories and create art in a spontaneous and free environment. 

Kaiwa believes great ideas develop alongside feelings of freedom and joy.  Kaiwa gives students the freedom to express their creativity, ingenuity, and joy as an emergent process.  Kaiwa develops projects that respect the intelligence and autonomy of children to make their own decisions, while exposing them to new knowledge of the world and artistic tools and techniques that inspire growth.  Kaiwa believes in growing alongside students through dialogue and moments of shared laughter and awe. 


Where can play lead?

Kaiwa believes that play leads to learning.  Maria Montessori once said that "Play is the work of children."  In play, a child can invent new worlds, solve problems moment by moment, collaborate within a team, synthesize and reconfigure knowledge, and of course - have fun.  When a person is engaged and excited throughout an experience, their capacity to form a lasting memory increases, leading to richer learning.  


© 2015 by Kaiwa Art and Play Space. Proudly created with Wix.com

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185 Walnut Ave. Santa Cruz, CA 95060