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
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
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
Oh, and this not-so-artistic mom learned a thing or two,
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.
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