Wawa-what? Wawawasi! Kids Activities at the Festival
If you plan to bring your whole family to the Folklife Festival, look for the big circular tent called the Wawawasi Kids Corner. This family activities area will feature interactive games and workshops highlighting the art and dance traditions found throughout the Perú: Pachamama program.
The Festival’s Kids Corner tent is named after El Wawawasi, a Peruvian program that provides pre-school education to low-income children, similar to Head Start in the United States. In Quechua—the most common indigenous Peruvian language—wawa means “baby” and wasi means “home.” Put them together and you get wawawasi: a “home for children.”
In Peru, El Wawawasi really is a home. Caregivers are called madre cuidadoras or “mother-caretakers,” and are trained in healthcare (like giving vaccines), early childhood care, and nutrition. At the Folklife Festival, the Wawawasi tent is modeled after this concept—creating a comfortable space for families to learn and grow.
To connect the rest of the Festival with the Wawawasi, many of the Peruvian participants will offer family-friendly performances with participatory activities. On any given day, you can learn steps from a variety of Peruvian dance traditions: the intricate Marinera dance, the masked contradanza from the Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen, the twirling danza Sarawja, or the foot-stomping atajo de negritos.
Gather around a depiction of the Wanamey Tree of Life to hear a creation story from a member of the Wachiperi community, and try on some pieces of their traditional bark clothing. Weave on a loom used to make traditional textiles from Cusco, or create your own version of chicha posters like Lima’s urban artists. Put your language skills to the test by learning phrases in Quechua or Kukama, two of Peru’s many native languages.
Children can learn about Peruvian culture through puzzles, matching, and memory games. They will also be able to make and take home crafts inspired by Peruvian art in four “Getting to Know Peru” activities. Make a bracelet with the same twisting technique used to build the Q’eswachaka Bridge, and create paper filigree that mimics the style of tin-smithing artisans in Ayacucho. Help decorate a paper llama or alpaca, or create textile patterns inspired by nature.
There are so many activities at the Wawawasi that you might be tempted to stay there all day, but don’t forget to grab a Scavenger Hunt sheet and explore the rest of the Festival! Answer a question in each area to win a small prize. Then visit the Festival Marketplace (located inside the nearby National Museum of the American Indian) to buy a copy of the kids magazine FACES. The July/August issue is all about Peru and features many of the artists and traditions you will see at the Festival.
Check the Festival Guide or the online schedule pages for a complete list of Wawawasi Kids Corner activities. Enjoy!
Erica Martin and Tiffany Wilt are the lead volunteers for the Wawawasi Kids Corner. Sarika Ramaswamy is a Folklife Festival intern.