Friday afternoons are usually a busy time at child care centers with parents picking up their children and heading off to start their weekends. However, on a early autumn Friday afternoon, parents and children strolled hand in hand through an “art gallery” at Milestones Early Learning Center & Preschool in Bloomington.
Children excitedly showed their parents their creations and that of their classmates at the culmination of the “Celebrate the Artist in You” art program at the center. Proud declarations of “That’s mine!” were heard throughout the room.
The center’s “Celebrate the Artist in You” art show coincided with its Fall Family Festival, said Milestones Executive Director Dana David. Parents, grandparents and siblings visited their students’ classrooms and enjoyed treats, face-painting and an outdoors bouncy house in addition to touring the art gallery. View more photos from event
“Art is a favorite thing for both the children and the teachers,” said David. Over the summer, teachers developed and implemented a curriculum around the theme of art.
Each classroom focused on different projects. The center’s multi-purpose room featured a gallery of creations – from footprint “apples” in the infants room to cornstalks topped with “ears of corn” painted by toddlers using actual corn on the cob; framed “stained glass” artwork and decorated pumpkins; family portraits and life-size drawings; and painted clay pots.
David said the center, which serves infants to children aged 12, operates on a tight budget and a $2,500 Arts & Culture Grant from Illinois Prairie Community Foundation allowed teachers to buy the extras for their students’ projects. For example, teachers in the younger classrooms documented the creation process for parents through photographs and others framed the artwork of their students. Each piece of art featured an information card detailing the artist, just like a real art gallery.
“Not only was this a chance for the children to show off their projects, but it taught kids how to go through an art gallery,” said Milestones board member Deborah Halperin. “They learned to look, but not touch pieces created by others,” although admittedly it was a hard concept to grasp.
It also was an opportunity for parents to meet each other and talk in a relaxed situation before heading off for a weekend full of activities.
If you would like to support programs like this, please consider contributing to the Illinois Prairie Community Fund’s Annual Campaign. To donate online, click here.
By Michele Evans, Grants & Communications Director