CROWN HEIGHTS — During the second week of the new year, the second-ever class of students at newly founded kids’ art space Brooklyn Art Hive began their first lesson, toddling into the garden level of teacher Julie Kirkpatrick’s Dean Street home to paint, sculpt, build and play.
Sitting down at tiny stools around a wooden table, the kids — ages 18 months to 4 years old — began poking golf tees into painted Styrofoam blocks, the kind of creative project typical at the toddler art classes Kirkpatrick began offering this fall.
“I wanted to make the kind of space that I would go to as a parent, but also use it as a real art experience for the kids,” said Kirkpatrick, a trained arts educator with two young boys of her own.
Conducted in a cozy art studio converted from a former rental apartment, the Art Hive experience includes typical little-kid art projects like collage making and finger painting, but with a focus on learning and development, Kirkpatrick said.
“There’s fur and tinfoil and different sized bubble wraps, so there might be finger painting, but they’ll do it on a surface, so there’s some different sensory experience,” she said.
Kids also experiment at the “sensory table,” a surface with three built-in plastic bins holding a variety of substances like Play-Doh, kinetic sand or fake snow that the little artists play with.
“Today it’s scented rice, so they can practice their pouring,” she said. “Sometimes we’ll push it around with brushes that have bells on them — sound, smell, feel — you know, all the senses being triggered in some way.”
And the fun isn’t just for kids, she said — parents and guardians are encouraged to get involved, too.
“The idea is parents model the creative process along with their kids. It’s not like parents go in the kitchen or stand at the front of the classroom. Everyone’s hands on,” she said.
Kirkpatrick currently offers three $192 eight-week classes, all of which are full for the winter session (she puts a cap at six or seven kids per class). But she said she’s open to adding extra classes if there is interest from parents. She also offers a two-and-a-half hour drop-off play space on Friday nights.
“It’s enough [time] for parents to go out and grab a bite to eat or some drinks [while] your kid gets to make something and hang out with their friends in a home environment, making real art in your neighborhood,” she said.
The spring session at Brooklyn Art Hive begins the last week of March. For more information or to sign up, visit the website.
Looking for other playful ways to get kids through the winter doldrums? DNAinfo New York rounded up four more spots in Crown Heights where parents can keep toddlers occupied indoors this season. Check them out:
► Tots Yoga at the Brooklyn Yoga Collective
Every Thursday at 2:30 p.m., kids 6 weeks to 2 1/2 years old and their guardians are welcome to this “baby-centered” yoga class at Brooklyn Yoga Collective, located on Franklin Avenue between Lincoln and St. Johns places. Classes cost $7 to $15 on a sliding scale. For more information, click here.
► Seeds Class at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
This intro-to-gardening class aimed at 4-, 5- and 6-year-olds begins on Jan. 10, meeting every Saturday morning for four weeks for $125 for non-members. The drop-off program teaches kids to cook winter veggies, track animal prints and make nature crafts. For more information, visit the BBG website.
► Arty Facts at the Brooklyn Museum
Each Sunday morning, this art program allows kids and parents to engage with the museum’s galleries with activities geared toward 4- to 7-year-olds. Afterwards, kids can make artwork of their own in the museum’s studio. There is a materials fee of $10. Visit the museum’s website for more information.
► Sing-Alongs at the Stomping Ground
At three separate musical classes on Tuesday, Thursdays and Fridays, this parent-run play space offers sing-alongs, musical storytelling and a music-focused yoga class for young children. Each session costs between $5 for members and $10 for non-members depending on the day. For more details, visit the Stomping Ground's website.