There’s a new parent/caregiver – child activity in town this summer over here in Chapel Hill, and it’s called My SweetARTS.
I first discovered it at the Touch-a-Truck event last April and learned about the program from co-founder Rosario Vila. She and her partner Michelle Schoof were putting together a set of age appropriate infant and toddler classes at the University Mall, and Jamie and I were one of the lucky chosen few to get a free trial class.
The My SweetARTS curriculum is a combination of Michelle’s music, art, and drama education and Rosario’s love for visual arts and crafts. I actually like the way Michelle sings and Rosario has such a warm personality. She talks to each child personally and tries to engage them in every activity.
In the class that we attended, Michelle played the guitar and led the singing and movement activities (as from what I understand, the songs sung are original), while Rosario helped each child take a turn on the chosen instrument or assisted by featuring pictures related to the topic. Our class had as its theme “Exploring the 5 senses”, and the lyrics to familiar children songs’ melodies were thus adapted to the theme. A familiar story was also injected into the activity where animal sounds were played to create a multi-sensory experience.
The best part (at least in my opinion) was the arts and crafts portion. Towards the end of the class Michelle and Rosario revealed an area in the room which had cold colored noodles, play-doh, some chalk, magnets and little packs of grapefruit, coffee beans and lemons for the kids to explore, taste, and play with. Jamie absolutely loved the noodles and even took a lick of a piece of lemon and a piece of grapefruit. I couldn’t tear her away from the play-doh either, even if I knew she was already tired and ready to go.
I felt that this was what made the class unique to the current offerings here in Chapel Hill. There aren’t that many programs for infants and toddlers which offer art appreciation, craft exploration or a multi-sensory experience using creative materials. That’s the kind of thing that I find Jamie is into now as we are always drawing and coloring and pulling out the play-doh. The current activities that we go to (The Traveling Teacher Show Gymboree and Bull City Crafts) are geared more towards the older kids, and we do go because of Sam (Jamie is just shlepped around with no choice on her part) so it’s nice to find something that is specifically for Jamie’s age range.
My SweetARTS has four sets of classes: the Sweet Peas for 4-14 month old children, the Sweet Berries for 14 – 24 month old toddlers, the Sweet Potatoes for 2-3 year old children and the Sweet Families for families with multiple children of all ages. There’s an ongoing promotional rate this summer for eight classes and one make-up class. You can read more about each of the classes on their website.
Although Michelle and Rosario officially launched their programs about 2 weeks ago, they are open to drop-ins for the classes that still have space. You just need to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.