Has cabin fever struck again? In need of a new activity for your baby or toddler before you both start climbing the walls? Interested in the Montessori method of teaching? Then, the Little Artista Playgroup sessions ran by MAKE Creative Education held at the YWCA could well be for you.
If your toddler is like mine and doesn’t sit still long enough to do art and would rather eat the paint, don’t be put off by the name “Artista” – this is derived from the Spanish for artist, which can mean any type of creative person from a painter, poet, musician, actor, or even a sculptor. Each class includes a range of creative activities and only focuses on art for part of each class.
The groups are small; there were only six children at the one we attended and each class has two Montessori trained teachers, Teacher Shawn and Teacher Liz. Both teachers are young, full of energy and enthusiasm – great for captivating the attention of the most wandering of toddlers (like mine!).
Teacher Shawn led the music-based circle time activities that we kicked off with and my little girl Gracie, who normally wanders off during circle time at other playgroups, actually paid attention! It was a wondrous moment. Music time included stories with puppets (a dog which Gracie kidnapped and wouldn’t relinquish); dancing to what I’m pretty sure sounded like the Village People’s YMCA (a particular favourite of mine); tapping and shaking to the beat with musical instruments; and also good old-fashioned singing, so definitely enough to keep you and your tot occupied!
After the musical activities and sing-a-long with Teacher Shawn, we moved across the room to sit with Teacher Liz for art time, which was all about the look and feel of art, discovering the texture (and taste in our case) of paint and its application with hands and feet too! Gracie didn’t quite get painting with her feet and instead decided to smear green paint like body lotion all over her lower legs and feet… um I wonder where she learnt that from?! Apologies to the YWCA for the trail of green paint! So make sure you dress your little one in old clothes (and yourself as well!) as this can get a bit messy!
After our painting interlude, it was time for playdough, and to be honest I was relieved to see the back of the green paint! Playdough was a little more sedate – rolling balls and making rolly polly long things, great for exploring texture and for your little one’s sensory skills. The other tots loved this whereas Gracie decided to throw hers in the bin.
MAKE say “Get ready to feel the beat in music, and make a mess in art”; we definitely felt the beat and made the mess, but what fun we had! The Montessori method is about giving children the freedom to explore materials and activities rather than be instructed and this was true of this class.
We finished off with story time with a lovely large coloured photo storybook; there were a few hairy moments where Gracie tried to sabotage the whole lot by grabbing it out of Teacher Shawn’s hands, but I’m pleased say that Teacher Shawn’s fast reflexes were a match for Gracie’s fast hands.
The playgroups are for 6-17 months and 18-36 months, held at the YWCA and run for an hour. Your little one will need to be accompanied by an adult.
Enrolment has begun for the second half of this trimester, lasting 8 weeks, and summer classes begin on May 7 (TBC) every Monday and Wednesday morning. For older kids, there is a summer camp for 4-6 year olds split into two themes, “My Hong Kong” and “Superheroes”, and also a monthly We MAKE bookclub for 12-16 years.