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What We Do

The thing that makes Magic Box special is that they really listen...
to students, educators, and parents.

—Ellen Solomon, retired arts specialist, NYC Dept. of Education


Our Vision

Founded in 2004 by documentary filmmaker and Executive Director Nelle Stokes, Magic Box Productions is an award-winning nonprofit that provides exemplary media arts workshops that help students bridge the digital divide. We provide rich experiences for all ages, especially younger and beginning language learners, and are well known for our dedication to customizing each residency for the needs of participating schools. 

Magic Box teaching artists come into the classroom to help students create photography, video, animation, audio, and web-based projects while building critical 21st century skills. 

Partnering with schools in the New York City area, we have provided more than 10,000 students, teachers, and parents with opportunities for creative expression, community and cultural connections, and access to new technologies. In a variety of hands-on media arts workshops, student participants have explored their lives and community, chronicled school and community events, and told their own original stories.    

The heart of our vision is to develop visual and digital literacy from a crucial early age. Through our residencies, students gain skills in technology, problem solving and teamwork. Magic Box workshops also foster creativity and enhance academic success, harnessing the power of media arts and technology to heighten students’ engagement, ultimately making them more active learners. 

Classroom teachers appreciate the deep partnerships they forge with our teaching artists, who introduce them to new instructional methods, materials, and evaluation tools. 

All our residencies are designed to accommodate a particular school’s needs. Students have created multimedia presentations combining animation, dance, and poetry; videos documenting their science experiments; photo exhibitions reflecting their families and surroundings; and much more.

Student Workshops

Elementary School          Middle and High School          Professional Development


Elementary School Programs

Elementary-aged students enjoy active, hands-on learning. Magic Box programs harness the energy and enthusiasm of this age to teach the use of media as a tool for the creative expression of ideas.

Introduction to Animation/Stop Motion

An introduction to the basic concepts and language of animation. The residency encourages student reflection through comparisons, defending choices, presenting evidence, and persuasion. Skills include storyboarding, taking digital images, and image manipulation.

Photography 

An introduction to the basic concepts and terminologies of photography. The curriculum builds student’s vocabulary, creativity, and observational and critical thinking skills. Student photos can be used as a basis for writing and reflections. 

Talking Picture Books

Working collaboratively, students are exposed to traditional art materials and techniques as well as new media and technology as they adapt a story into an animated video. This curriculum builds literacy skills, creativity, technical skills, and interpersonal skills.

History Pin

Using History Pin, a free online mapping program for linking new and historical photographs and text with a specific location, students connect past and present and build their literacy, computer, research, and analysis skills as they engage in the classroom and the world beyond. 

News Reporting and Green Screen

Students become digital journalists as they report on news in their schools and neighborhoods. Using “green screen” techniques, they add background pictures to their on-the-street interviews. The residency builds research, writing, technical, and interview skills.

Please contact us for details on our programs.


Middle School and High School Programs

Middle- and high-school–aged students thrive on increased independence. In Magic Box residencies, students work together to strengthen the collaborative and planning skills needed for later success in school and life.

Introduction to Animation/Stop Motion

An introduction to the basic concepts and language of animation. The residency encourages student reflection through comparisons, defending choices, presenting evidence and persuasion. Skills include storyboarding, taking digital images and image manipulation.

News Reporting and Green Screen

Students become digital journalists as they report on news in their schools and neighborhoods. Using “green screen” techniques, they add background pictures to their on-the-street interviews. The residency builds research, writing, technical, and interview skills.

Digital Photography and Reflective Writing 

An introduction to the basic concepts and terminology of photography that builds students’ vocabulary, creativity, observational, and critical thinking skills through small projects. Student photos can be used as a basis for nonfiction writing, poetry, and reflections. 

Audio Production and GarageBand 

Students create original soundscapes or audio tracks for a documentary, learning the skills and terminology needed to use GarageBand or any digital audio workstation, as well as the critical thinking skills to compare, contrast, and present evidence to support their creative choices.

Documentary Production 

Students research and make a short collaborative documentary, developing technical research, aesthetic, visual and verbal communication, narrative development, and technical skills. This interdisciplinary project can be tailored to align with curricula in Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts.

Stop-Motion Animation 

Students analyze a curriculum-related book and adapt it for the screen, adding their own original script and narration. Working collaboratively, they use traditional art materials and techniques as well as new media and technology. This curriculum builds literacy, creativity, technical, and interpersonal skills.

Digital Video and Editing Workshop: Creating a Public Service Announcement 

Creating a PSA about one of their school’s core values, students learn the basic concepts and terminologies of screenwriting, digital video production, and editing through a curriculum designed to build their vocabulary, creativity, observational, and critical thinking skills. 

 

Please contact us for details on our programs.


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Professional Development

Magic Box provides a variety of interactive and experiential media arts workshops for teachers.

Introduction to Animation and Stop Motion 

An introduction to the basic concepts and language of stop-motion animation. Participants use traditional art materials and techniques while incorporating new media and technology. 

News Reporting and “Green Screen” 

Participants learn how to help their students act as digital journalists as they document news and events happening in their own schools and neighborhoods. Through “green screen” techniques, they can add background pictures to interviews, and build research, writing, and technical skills. 

Photography: Seeing in Pictures 

This program introduces the basic concepts and terminologies of photography. Teachers learn skills and techniques as they develop vocabulary, creativity, and observational and critical thinking skills. 

New Media 

Free online media tools such as Historypin can help teachers and students connect information and services; collaborate with others; and create new content, services, communities, and channels of communication to deliver information.  

World Cinema: Critiquing for the Common Core 

Through careful analysis of films such as The Red Balloon or other classics, participants learn the art of critical inquiry. Educators leave the workshop with skills and new techniques for combining higher order thinking skills such as analysis and synthesis with media literacy, social studies, and language arts lessons. 

Stop-Motion Animation and STE(a)M   

Basic stop-motion animation is learned and then used to create short films depicting science and math topics. Participants learn how to use animation to demonstrate skills learned. This workshop includes editing and iPad work sessions. 

Literacy and Photojournalism 

Participants learn about photography’s greats—including Gordon Parks and Ansel Adams—and investigate the art of nontraditional storytelling as they learn how to bring photography into their classrooms. They leave with the tools to help their students edit and curate a thematic photography exhibition.

 

Please contact us for details on our programs.

Through the power of the video camera, laptop computer, and creative genius, Magic Box has opened up new worlds of study, exploration and inquiry for our students.
— Brian O’Connell, Principal, The Scholars’ Academy

Award-Winning Video Production

The work that Nelle and her team have produced has always been of the highest quality, on time and within budget. And they’re a lot of fun to work with. What more could you ask for?
—Sydney Thornbury, Executive Director, WebPlay 

Magic Box Studios provides the full spectrum of video services, from scriptwriting to production and postproduction. We offer documentary video production, performance video production, promotional and training videos, and DVD authoring.