Oh my goodness! The other day, my dear friend Wonton (Tanya) invited us to join her and her two boys at the Children’s Art Factory in Guelph. I am officially head over heels in love with that place!! Imagine a place where your child can be set free to be creative in a thousand different ways, without direction or redirection, instruction or interference. Imagine a place with activities so diverse and plentiful that a child could spend days there and still not experience it all. Imagine a place that has all this, but in a cozy little colourful space that feels safe – the perfect atmosphere to allow little minds and little hands and little bodies to feel free to explore. I can only do justice to the Children’s Art Factory by showing you a dozen or so pictures that I took during our morning there. I was having as much fun with my camera phone as Henry was with all the activities. He was a little free range chicken, pecking here and there, free to experience and experiment as he wished. There was no specific learning agenda, no prescribed craft that he had to produce for his parents, no required participation in a group activity. He just got to BE HIMSELF – his curious and creative and busy self. I wish I could set up our basement like this for Henry. But then we’d never see him again.
There are many different activity stations set up throughout the space, but children are free to do as they please at each one. The only rule is that items remain at their proper station so as not to mix up all the different activities. Fair enough. I can only imagine how much work it would take to ‘tidy up’ there! The truth is, though, that the wonder of this place is its beautiful mess. It is a visual representation of the child’s mind in all its glory. Henry wandered about, focused at times and flighty at others. He worked away in the sand area, had imaginative conversations on an old telephone, plunked away at a keyboard with no one to tell him to the computer was off limits, practiced cutting different types of paper with fancy scissors, scooped and ground and poured lentils to his heart’s content, and did his fair share of painting because he loved the colours. With his limited vocabulary, he tried to tell me that there was ‘many much blue’ and he was right – there were so many shades of blue and green to work with. He was sad to leave when we did, but also worn out from all the mental activity. What a wonderful thing – to fall asleep exhausted because you’ve just been so very creative all morning!!! He earned his delicious three-hour nap that afternoon.
The Children’s Art Factory is located in downtown Guelph. It operates as a drop-in art studio for toddlers and preschoolers and also provides classes for older children on weeknights and weekends (nurturing the young makers among us). They also do birthday parties and rent out activity stations. Please check out their website here: thechildrensartfactory.com and consider making a visit sometime soon! It is absolutely worth the drive to Guelph.
Kari Raymer Bishop
Lover of Jesus, cheeses and tropical breezes... seeking balance in life, even as I embrace new challenges and chase new dreams. I am wife, mother, daughter and friend, as well as teacher, entrepreneur, activist, writer, beekeeper and hostess. Come along on the journey through my long-awaited midlife crisis!