Melanie Apel found something missing at mom-and-tot classes offered when her son was a toddler: an art class experience that exposed kids to artists and techniques in a structured environment. Her sister, Mindy, a former kindergarten teacher, found that playing music during art time inspired children. So the siblings combined those concepts and created The Paintbrush, an art studio with classes for kids 18 months to teens.
"I thought it would be a really smart idea to teach kids about real art while they listened to real-world music," says Apel. "Art, music and creativity are so important to young children's development. We just love it when kids recognize art styles and artists when they are out with their parents."
My twin girls and I stumbled upon The Paintbrush when they were 2. I was looking for a fun activity we could do together that would introduce them to a classroom setting where they had to follow instructions (not their forte at that age). The Paintbrush offered that and more.
With different sound tracks serenading us in the background each week, we started out the class with story time or a game that related to that day's project. The featured artist or type of art was introduced and then off we'd go to create a masterpiece.
One of our favorite projects was dipping tiny toy cars into paint, then racing them over thick cardboard to create swirls of color. So much more interesting than a plain-old paint brush or fingerpainting! What is so amazing about The Paintbrush is each project brings something unexpected.
I loved the pride the girls had in taking home projects to show Daddy and the self-confidence it inspired. Learning to sit quietly and listen to instructions and participate in a group setting definitely helped prepare them for school.
Oh, and this not-so-artistic mom learned a thing or two, as well.
Linda made it a goal to try out every kid-friendly venue in Chicago, which she chronicles in her Chicago Parent Good-to-Go column.
See more of Linda's stories here.