Arts & Culture

Art and science for your young Picassos and Galileos


Exposing your kids to art and culture means more than bringing them to the latest Pixar pic. Lucky for us, this city is full of artistic energy. From museums where kids can practice their inside voice, to outdoor spectacles where they can use their normal voice – screaming as loud as they can to let two city blocks know they have to go potty – here’s a few creative ways to get, well, creative with your kids.

I’m sure Picasso had to start somewhere. If he had been born in this century, he’d definitely would have been involved in the RISD Museum Youth Program. Get your own little Picassos involved in the world of art with amazing programs offered by RISD museum. From Tours for Tots (interactive tours with read-aloud storytime and gallery activities) to Art + Design Lab for Families (in-depth investigations into special exhibitions) to Art + Design School for High Schoolers (explore how art and design provoke fresh ideas, elicit conversation and stimulate creativity), there’s something for every aged child in your life. RISD museum also offers camps and youth groups and a plethora of family events to enjoy.

Our kids think that “cutting a cucumber” really means “shave 42,000 pieces of skin and pulp all over the kitchen floor, so that there is anything but a cucumber left.” While their intention is to join in on all the kitchen fun, maybe they need to brush up on their skills. Enroll your kids in Johnson & Wales Chef’s Choice cooking classes and soon they’ll be learning less destructive techniques in upcoming workshops like Pizza Party and Cookie Club. (Classes rotate throughout the year.) If it’s an online lesson you seek, check out Skill It’s noted course, Season’s Eatings, which takes place four times a year and is filled with delicious recipes, fun activities and inspiration to create connection with your kids in the kitchen and at the family dinner table. No need to hide the knives anymore.

At any age, there is no denying the luster and magic of live theatre. If you have a theatre-loving child, Providence Performing Arts Center offers Camp Broadway, a week-long summer day camp of singing, dancing, acting, master classes, luncheons, backstage tours and a family and friend performance. Have a lunch date with your little one? Bring him or her to the free lunchtime Wonders of Wurlitzer organ concerts, where people of all ages bring their brown-bagged lunches to listen to the local musicians. Or you could enjoy an upcoming kid-friendly show, like Sesame Street Live or Beauty and the Beast.

One of us may have been a science nerd as a child (Jen, raising hand), but we like to think that anyone can recognize how incredibly interesting museums and planetariums are. I mean, if it weren’t for stars, how else would you get your horoscope sent to your Twitter feed daily? The Museum of Natural History & Planetarium not only houses 250,000 curated natural history objects and cultural materials, but gives endless spectacular star shows in their planetarium. MNH also offers a variety of children’s programs, like discovery zone, cosmic cadets and space camp. It might be the best kept not-so-secret spot in Providence. (And who didn’t want to go to Space Camp?)

We all know that our kids are destined to be the next big actor, artist, painter, sculptor, insert-whatever-creative-profession-you-can-think-of. It’s hard not to think that way when you witness such high levels of expertise in even something as simple as a drawing of their own family. Daddy having five legs isn’t inaccurate, folks – it’s art. Fortunately, there’s a place to harness this raw talent. Located just outside of Prov- idence in neighboring Cranston resides Artists’ Exchange, an arts collaborative that offers a gamut of creative outlets for your little genius. From art classes to theater classes, summer camps to ceramics, festivals to galas to seasonal events, Artists’ Exchange is art enrichment at its finest. They also house the Black Box Theatre, where productions like A Christmas Carol are cast and showcased, as well as a boutique and cafe, with handmade crafts from local artisans and Johnson & Wales Culinary goodies.

Not every oasis comes in the form of heated pools and free daiquiris (although, that’s nice.) Rhode Island has its own urban oasis with the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center. The Botanical Center is the largest public indoor display gardens in New England and houses two greenhouses, including over 150 species of plants and 17 types of palms. And, the coolest part is that they have a kids Eco-Exploration summer camp, where kids use scientific techniques to collect insects, set footprint traps and use other investigations to discover what type of animals hide in the city. They will also learn to grow their own food, draw in nature journals, play games and make nature-themed craft projects.

Have you ever stepped on a LEGO? Took three years off of your life, right? Well, instead of swearing at that little piece of pointy plastic of doom, embrace its potential and head over to Pow!Science! to have your kids join their LEGO club, where they meet weekly to build spectacular creations and have them photographed. Pow!Science! is a super cool retail science store that offers other fun events like Yoyo club or Kinderscience, along with science programs, birthday parties, school shows, scout programs and more. Remember that former science nerd we talked about already? She loves this store.

If your child has a flair for the dramatic (let’s face it, most do), Trinity Rep is calling his or her name. The Young Actors Summer Institute is one of the most comprehensive arts enrichment summer programs in New England. Taught by Trinity Rep’s professional acting company and Trinity’s education staff, students are able to choose from a variety of different classes, including playwriting, stage combat, improvisation, Shakespeare, film and much more.

Some kids get excited by snow cones. Others get excited about pooping twice in one day (and want to show you how exciting that is). But if there’s one thing all kids get equally excited about, it’s heading to the library. The Providence Athenaeum is the queen of libraries. If you haven’t seen this unique and gorgeous book-filled cultural center, you need to. The Athenaeum celebrates the notion of children “getting lost” in books, and houses the Children’s Library – a special sanctuary tucked away in the corner. Not only will your kids enjoy the magic of reading in there, but also be able to participate in fun activities like storytime, movies, special presentations and more. They recently held a Valentine Making Headquarters event and will host Chipmunks story time on Tuesday and Thursday mornings throughout March.

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