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Kristin B. Eno founded Little Creatures on a collaborative filmmaking model derived from graduate level research, specifically her Ed.M. thesis, Children’s Video Stories: Using Current Media to Empower Young Children’s Imaginative Play, the qualitative study submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the Master of Education Degree at Teachers College, Columbia University, 2004. In the thesis, Kristin analyzed the effects of Ark, the film she and her partner Sean Eno had made with eight children in Brooklyn in 2002, on young participants and viewers.  In her thesis, Kristin looked at the time children spend watching television and movies that are made for children by adults.  Through her experience collaborating with children on video stories and interviews about those experiences, Kristin found that many children were ready even at very young ages to participate in the making of their own media.  However, no film or television show for children has given children such an opportunity, nor has any children’s media endeavor capitalized on the boom in the discussion of play's worth in children’s lives. 

Kristin's thesis explored the question:  How can video be used to create a more meaningful alternative to current mainstream corporate children’s television programming, for children between the ages of three and seven?  What do children gain from personal video stories that they cannot gain from this type of television?  Her research fits into three main categories that in turn drive her current practice:

• The need for “critical pedagogy,” wherein the child viewer takes in the televised media and filters it through his or her dynamic mind and actions; children should experience visual media such as television in an active, rather than passive, way, and have outlets for responding to such stimuli  (Buckingham, 2000; Singer & Singer, 1990; Tobin, 2000).

• The theory that children need to carry out imaginative play, because it not only provides pleasure but also helps them grow cognitively, emotionally and socially (Froebel, 1885; Huizinga, 1950; Erikson, 1976; Singer & Singer, 1990; Sutton-Smith, 1997; Vygotsky, 1978; V. Paley, 2004).

• “Adult facilitation” of children’s play, or playing with children, maintaining an engaged stance, yet still able to analyze the child’s learning and seek to raise that learning to a higher level, as described by Lev Vygotsky (1978) and researched by Lindqvist (1995), Ferholt (2007), Forman (1999), Brenneman Eno (2004).

Read excerpts from Kristin's thesis: download PDF.

From 2004-2008, Kristin provided media workshops for pre-kindergarten through 3rd grade students throughout the five boroughs of New York City, operating through her company Digital Story Workshop as a teaching artist/videographer.  In each project, she pulled small groups of children out of their whole-class environments to work with her on imaginative storytelling and play, which she videotaped and showed back to the children.  She recorded their voiceover narration and edited it into the final product, which was screened for each class and went home with each student participant.  Kristin received three Local Capacity Building Arts in Education Regrants (NYSCA), one School Arts Partnership Grant (NYSCA/Partners for Arts Education), two Brooklyn Arts Council Community Arts Regrants (Individual Tier and NYSCA), and a BRIC Rotunda Gallery/BCAT Residency to produce imaginative videos with young children throughout Brooklyn. She was commissioned as a teaching artist through Rotunda Gallery, the Brooklyn Arts Council, Young Audiences NY, Border Crossers and Create! to make videos with children in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island, and she received DOE grant funding to make videos with children in East Harlem and Cypress Hills/East New York. Her last Digital Story Workshop project in the NYC public schools was a $16K grant to create videos with three pre-K through first grade classes at PS 27, in Red Hook, Brooklyn, funded by the School Arts Partnership Grant from NYSCA, a matching grant with the NYC DOE. For that project she hired a second teaching artist, Terry Solowey, to provide a story-picture book component of the project, so that the children in all three classes could take home not only a DVD of their videos made over the course of the year but a book of all the stories that led up to and were made in response to those videos.

See list of past projects: Digital Story Workshop website.

Kristin B. Eno has worked with young children for eighteen years, in capacities ranging from public school art teacher to teaching artist to first grade teacher to video specialist/filmmaker.  She holds a B.A. in Studio Art with a minor in Elementary Education from Dartmouth College, and an Ed.M. from Columbia Teachers College, where she specialized in children’s video.  Kristin is an active member of national professional networks of art educators, Reggio Emilia-inspired teachers and schools, and early childhood educators.  In addition to making videos with young children, Kristin has presented her research and videos to educators around the country, at the Touchstone Center (2008), NYC Play (2008), Randolph College (2008), the National Association for Art Education (2007, 08), the Imaginative Education Research Group (2007), and the Association for the Study of Play (2004).