We’ve been taking our 4-year-old son Benny to art classes at Art Time 4 Kids for over a year now, and we love it! Art Time 4 Kids is a kids art studio in downtown Fredericksburg. It’s owned and run by Claire Ellinger, who has classes there several days a week.
There are classes there for a wide range of kids. We take Benny to the “Art from the Start” classes for kids 2-5 years old. Each week’s class focuses on a different artist, with activities that keep the kids engaged while teaching them about the artist and letting them be creative.
Each week’s class has a similar structure, so the kids can know what to expect. We start off by saying hello to everyone with a little rhyme that we say for each kid. Then Claire rolls out the big world map rug so we can take a toy plane to wherever that week’s artist is from. It might be New York, or Paris, or the Arctic Circle (for the northern lights, which we’re doing next week!) We’ll all learn about the artist of the week, with a focus on aspects that the kids can understand. For example, in the week about Andy Warhol, we went over some of his most famous works but focused on the endangered animal prints he made at the end of his career. We talked about the different animals and the vibrant colors he used in his prints.
At this point, Claire reads the kids a book related to the artist of the week. For the week about Jean-Michel Basquiat, it was a Maya Angelou poem illustrated with paintings by Basquiat. For the Andy Warhol week, it was a book about zebras, tying into his prints of zebras and other endangered animals. Then usually we’ll do an activity or mini-project, tied into the theme of the week. For Basquiat, we focused on how he liked to collaborate with other artists (especially Andy Warhol), and so each kid worked together with their parent to draw a picture. I had a great time working together with Benny to make a colorful doodle!
Then we move on to the main art project! It’s usually something a little messier, but always fun. For the week about gargoyles, the kids got to make their own gargoyles out of clay! When the artist of the week was textile artist Diedrick Brackens, the kids got to experiment with weaving together lots of different types of material. They got to choose from paper strips, pipe cleaners, big fuzzy yarn, and other stuff too. Once most of the kids are done with their art projects, they get to play with some fun creative toys like blocks, magnet tiles and magnetic acrobats.
If your kid hits it off with their classmates and you don’t have to rush off after class, the new Riverside Park on Sofia Street is just a block away from the Art Time studio. I’ve taken Benny there a couple of times after art class to play around with the other kids and get to talk to the other parents from class. If you’re hungry, all the downtown restaurants and cafes are within walking distance. Several times I’ve taken the kids out to get a chocolate croissant at Curitiba cafe or some gelato at the Italian Station after we finished up art class on a Saturday morning.
I think Benny gets a lot out of the classes, and so do I. Claire goes above and beyond each week to make art fun and accessible, and to teach the kids about art history in a way that they can appreciate and remember. Benny may not remember Diedrick Brackens’s name, but he’ll remember the fun working with thread and yarn, and that those things can be art as much as a drawing can be. And I always learn something too!
Art Time 4 Kids
101 Hanover St, Fredericksburg, Virginia 22401