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your thoughts appreciated - setting up art club for kids

(57 Posts)
desperatehousewife Thu 17-Feb-05 09:17:52

I am about to set up an art club for toddlers.

It will hopefully be held in a child friendly cafe twice a week (therefore decent coffee for mums). I want to make it a bit different from the usual type of thing on offer - I really want it to be fun for the mums/carers/dads too.

It will be an hour and a half at a cost of £5 per session. I provide all materials and do all the clearing up.

I will theme it each week and there will be a variety of mediums available to experiment with.

What for you would make it a bit different, or make it so you came away feeling you had got value for money?

I'd be really interested in your thoughts and advice.

This is a big step for me - been floundering being an at home mum for the past 3 years and am desperate to get out and do something again that is creative and inspiring.

Thank you in advance

spook Thu 17-Feb-05 09:22:24

What a FANTASTIC idea DH. Funnily enough I was just despairing what to do with my 2 on a rainy half-term day and thought we'd go to ELC and get some art and crafts stuff. I just think alot of parents will be so gratefull you are taking the arty ball out of their court that whatever you do will go down a storm. Sticking and cutting and gluing seems to be the favourite in this house-certainly for my 5 yr old. But "themes" are great coz it gives them an idea to follow. Good luck-how I wish you were in Newcastle!

Newbarnsleygirl Thu 17-Feb-05 09:25:41

Great idea!

I think you've got it already, you don't need our ideas.

I know in York they have something similar but they paint and decorate pottery.

Good luck and once again, FAB idea!

desperatehousewife Thu 17-Feb-05 09:33:10

ah thanks NBG and spook! Great to get positive feedback. If you think of anything that your kids would love and you get a chance - do let me know! Really want to make it appropriate and worthwhile for mums.

paolosgirl Thu 17-Feb-05 09:34:30

There's one very similar being run VERY succesfully near me. Go for it....!

desperatehousewife Thu 17-Feb-05 09:35:30

Paolosgirl - what makes it very successful in your view?

Newbarnsleygirl Thu 17-Feb-05 09:39:39

I think the themes idea is good.

There was something on one of the kids programmes last week where they made a sea picture. They used a massive sheet of tissue paper and painted it all in blues and greens and then made lots of sea creatures to stick on it. At the end they hung it by a window and the light shone through it, it looked really good.

If you did something like that it would involve all the children and it would cover more than one session. You could also do a similar one but with animals, noahs ark or something.

desperatehousewife Thu 17-Feb-05 10:27:19

Thanks NBG,

Will make a note of that - that's a nice idea.

Anyone think that doing something a bit kitch for mums would be fun...i don't know something like those old fashioned paper cut out dolls that you dress - but put celebrity heads on them?!

Newbarnsleygirl Thu 17-Feb-05 10:48:27

I think your going to have alot of success from this. A place for mums to go and have a coffee and something to do, children to be entertained and learn something.

I wish there was something near me like this.

Pinotmum Thu 17-Feb-05 10:54:15

Your ideas sound brilliant dh. It is something I would be interested in for my 2. Our local library does the odd arts and crafts session during the summer holidays and my dd loved it - she made a hot air balloon with a basket attached. It was only aimed at the 3 to 5's so nothing too complicated was involved but she loved the cutting, gluing, colouring in aspect more that the result iyswim.

desperatehousewife Thu 17-Feb-05 14:02:29

anyone else got any good ideas?

Prufrock Thu 17-Feb-05 14:41:24

We went to Mucky Pups until recently. I have to sya I didn't find it that great - all that was on offer each week was painting, play-doh, chalks and sticking, usually around a theme. It was £3.50, which I thought was a bit excessive for stuff that I could just as easily have done at home.

To make yours better than that - and especially for the £5, you need to do something special, using your expertise to offer something different - I think you'd find that the majority of mothers who would pay £5 to take their kids out to a group tend to be up to basics at home. So do things that they won't have thought of- papier mache, maybe some of the kits for making dolls/badges etc that you can get from Baker Ross (or your own version). And you need something that the kids can take home and be proud of displaying, or give to granny - not just for them to go home with a couple of bits of paint splattered paper. And if possible, I would offer some activities that require lots of input and help from the parents (so, as you say, they can enjoy it as well) and something easier for the kids so the parents can chat and enjoy the lovely coffee whilst just keeping an eye on their little darlings.

Hope that helps - good luck

Mog Thu 17-Feb-05 15:20:25

I think an art club is a great idea and my dd would love that kind of thing.
I would be slightly put off by the cost. A lot of mums/dads will have two or more children and then coffee on top. It could come to quite a lot for a short activity. How about offering a family price ticket?

Mog Thu 17-Feb-05 15:21:34

Or try and get a grant from your local council/surestart scheme.

Evesmama Thu 17-Feb-05 15:26:02

for what its worth, if you speak to elc and let them know you are running a childrens club, they may very well give you a discount card(10-20%) i think

Newbarnsleygirl Thu 17-Feb-05 15:28:36

Where abouts are you DH?

desperatehousewife Thu 17-Feb-05 17:20:35

I'm in Brighton.

Thanks everyone for your comments...really helpful. Great ideas Prufrock...thanks

Newbarnsleygirl Thu 17-Feb-05 17:31:54

Only 500 miles away! Never mind!

desperatehousewife Thu 17-Feb-05 18:00:41

I've taken my son to an art club thing that was £5 per session and although not cheap - well worth the money as it just gave us somewhere to go each week and it took up most of a morning, and it meant I didn't have to do the clearing up or get stressed about glue and glitter going everywhere. That's what you're paying for - keeping your house glue and glitter free!

pepsi Thu 17-Feb-05 18:04:02

I went to one once and it was £2.50 for an hour I think. It has not folded. It was in a hall and had various tables laid out with chalks, colouring, a water tray, paint rollers, Mums got coffee and the kids got a squash and biscuit. But here you were left to your own devices. I expected a demonstration of something to make and then I thought they would be supervised in making it. I could have easily done what was there at home. My dd flitted from table to table and just made a mess really because there was no focus. I think one where the children were supervised and knew what they were doing and got to take something real home would be much more popular. To make it work for her she needed people to come every week rather than just drop in and I think thats were her problem was too, people didnt want to commit. At £5.00 per session although not bad for an hour and a half I think you will need to make sure people come back as you might find it becomes just a rainy day thing and pretty empty in the summer. Themes would definately work. If I were to go again to something like this it would definately have to involve more than doing the basics and in a perfect world plenty of supervision as Im useless at making things.

desperatehousewife Thu 17-Feb-05 18:05:32

Thanks Pepsi - really good advice

august24 Thu 17-Feb-05 18:17:25

I just have to say, sorry Prufrock but I totally disagree with your post. Art classes/clubs for children should be about process not product. Making things that are "perfect" doesn't inspire children to be creative. This is one of my pet peeves in the English Education system. As for the cost, the reason you are paying so much for an art club is because the materialscan only be used so many times before new ones need to be purchased. This is a great book about teaching art to young children: The Art of Teaching Art to Children : In School and at Home
by Nancy Beal, Gloria Bley Miller This is the website for the woman who taught my girls art in the states:
I think she is great! And if you notice in the USA they don't have drop in classes, you have to pay for a whole term and it is 18/class!!!

august24 Thu 17-Feb-05 18:22:20

Also, from that art class in Boston, she would do warm colors(red, orange, pink) and she would warm the colors up for the kids to paint with. Then when she did cool colors she would use ice. She would have 4 tables, a painting one(she would sometimes have things like trucks on this table for kids to paint with) a sculpute table(where she would have clay or someother thing(seem to remember something made form newspaper) and straws and feathers. She also had an easal for upright painting. And finally she would have a bead table with all sorts of beads and colored pasta for the children to string on wire or string.

roisin Thu 17-Feb-05 18:43:36

I absolutely agree august24!

The most 'beautiful/displayable' items my ds's brought home from playgroup were the ones I knew they'd had least personal involvement with, and certainly zero creative input!

I think a lot of parents would be happy to pay for the opportunity for their child to paint and have fun, and not have to cope with all the hassle themselves?

You do need to think carefully about marketing though, numbers you can cope with, and whether you need any assistants.

The idea of sitting having a relaxing coffee chatting with mates, feeding the baby whatever, is extremely attractive.

BUT if the reality actually involved assisting a toddler putting on a painting apron, being interrupted because the toddler needed help with some cutting out, being interrupted again because she needed to be accompanied to the loo, being interrupted again because the toddler couldn't manage the glue by herself, being interrupted AGAIN because she needed to go and wash her hands ... I might feel the experience had been mis-sold to me.

If you require parental participation (and I assume you do) you should make this clear.

The best sessions I have been to with toddlers have stated and required one-to-one adult hands-on assistance BUT have still been genuine creative products of toddlers, not adults iyswim.

desperatehousewife Thu 17-Feb-05 19:23:37


Totally agree about being upfront about parents having to take responsibility for their kids - because I am not teaching art, simply facilitating and providing the ideas and the environment and the materials - I will of course get involved, but it's very much up to the mums to aid their kids. But is an environment whereby mums can meet each other and hopefully get a chance to get a cup of coffee to drink in between chats with other mums and helping their kids with sticking.

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