If you have a preschooler, or you care for a preschooler, there’s something fun (and educational) going on in Olde Towne Portsmouth. That is, besides the fun and educational Children’s Museum of Virginia.
Anyone in the Hampton Roads area with a 3 – 5 year old is invited to Storytime Art at the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center. Class size is limited. You can preregister for this free class by calling 757-393-8543. There is only one more class in this series on Friday, November 17 from 10:30 – 11:30, but Friday morning classes will start up again in January.
I know what you’re thinking; tunnel tolls are going up in January. Why would I bring my preschooler to Portsmouth for a Storytime? Because this Storytime is that good. Kim brings her little girl Nora from Norfolk every week. Sandra drives from Virginia Beach with Isabelle. Storytime Art takes place in the galleries of the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center. Instructor Leslie Renn has a degree in the fine arts. She is an educator for the Portsmouth Museums, including the Children’s Museum.
Nora, age three, loves Storytime Art and is jumping up and down, waiting for it to start. She tells me, “I like to use glue sticks and I made a pink submarine.” Nora’s Mom, Kim, likes that Storytime Art combines music, movement, literacy and art. “I like the way Leslie makes a connection from the story of the day to the art, adding those important concepts for preschoolers, like colors and shapes.”
Leslie knows preschoolers. She knows they need to be actively engaged. She uses music, movement, and dance before the story of the day starts. Nora knows the words to all the songs. That girl loves to dance.
Leslie often ties the story of the day into the exhibits at the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center. This fall there was an exhibit by environmental artist Susan Stryck. Leslie read books like Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert. The preschoolers took a “field trip” to the lovely shaded courtyard of the Art & Cultural Center and found natural materials for their art project.
Today’s story was Uncle Andy’s Cats by James Warhola, Andy Warhol’s nephew. “Uncle Andy” kept lots of cats in his New York City townhouse. The art project of the day was pop art inspired. Sandra and Isabelle, “almost three” go to their local library for story times too, but “this one is unique.” Isabelle loves the art projects. She can hardly wait to get her hands on the stamps, paint and paper for today’s project. Leslie snuck in a little art history with this story, reading to the preschoolers about Andy Warhol’s pop art and his enormous collection of silver wigs.
Leslie encourages the process of art over the finished product. She is happy when the preschoolers “think outside the box, use their imaginations and creativity, and take risks.”
Storytime Art has temporarily moved to the art classroom behind the Art & Cultural Gift Shop. Museum staff are installing “Winter Wonderland: The Coleman Collection” in the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center, which you should not miss if you are a child of any age.
Leslie will be starting Storytime Art again in January. Your preschooler will have so much fun they won’t even know they’re practicing their fine motor skills, learning how to listen, developing important concepts, using their imagination and getting their fingers dirty. Parents and caregivers, you will have fun too. Did I mention that if you live in Portsmouth, Northern Suffolk or Chesapeake there won’t be any tunnel tolls?
For more information about Storytime Art at the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center, go here.
Winter Wonderland opens the day after Thanksgiving and runs until December 31. The Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center Gift Shop is open daily. It sells gifts and works by local artists. It’s a good place to shop for unique gifts.