Buzzword Pittsburgh adds public art as tool for developing kids’ vocabularies

The Buzzword Pittsburgh words of the month are “gigantic,” “shiny,” and “vehicle.”

For kids at one of the program’s events, these words aren’t just letters on a page—they’re the lyrics to the song they sing, the shape in their painting project, and the tune behind their latest dance move. And soon, they may also be the subject of public art in their community.

Since April, Buzzword Pittsburgh has worked to expand young children’s art, math and science vocabularies through events that include non-reading activities designed to get kids familiar with, and enthusiastic about, words. Families and caretakers who attend these events learn new ways to engage with kids around words, and can continue the learning at home by checking out a new list of words monthly on the Buzzword site.

Now, Buzzword Pittsburgh is taking another step to engage kids and families: working with Pittsburgh’s Office of Public Art to develop a public art project around words.

This project will be hosted at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Homewood, with installation in the fall of 2016. Buzzword estimates it will be displayed for one to five years.

The art project is currently open for artists’ proposals, and although the possibilities are endless, it’s all based on the principles of promoting vocabulary development in young children and encouraging engagement around words.

“Buzzword, at its core, sparks conversations between children and their families,” says Shaunda Miles, director of public relations at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. She adds that the art piece will involve the Homewood community not only in its finished state but also during creation. “From creation to implementation, the community will be able to engage with and talk about the artwork.”

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Buzzword partners—Carnegie Science Center, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy—also plan to develop future programming around the artwork.

The next Buzzwords event, Bedtime Tales, will take place on January 6 at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Homewood where kids will listen to a bedtime story, learn new words and create artwork to take home with them. Cookies and milk will be provided, and pajamas are encouraged.

Buzzword Pittsburgh is supported by PNC Grow Up Great, a $350 million, multi-year, bilingual initiative to help prepare children—particularly underserved children—from birth to age five for success in school and life. For more, visit the Buzzword Pittsburgh site.