Tots and parents can enjoy story time with some art at the Kimball Art Center |

Tots and parents can enjoy story time with some art at the Kimball Art Center

 The Thursday program is free to the public

Marlo Erickson, 6, assembles a hot pink tissue paper flower during Story Time for Tots at the Kimball Art Center. The art session began after the reading of Susan Johnston’s “The Gnome in Your Home.” (Tanzi Propst/Park Record)

Story Time for Tots is a free, custom-made program from the Kimball Art Center.

Children between the ages of three and five and their parents or adult caretakers can listen to an art center volunteer read an award-winning children book and then participate in an art project, said Amy MacDonald, Kimball Art Center artistic director.

“Our Story Time for Tots came about because everyone talks about exposing young children to literacy and art,” MacDonald told The Park Record. “The art project supports an idea or something that happens in the book, and we thought what a great way to introduce parents and tots to what the Kimball Art Center has to offer.”

Story Time for Tots, Thursdays, 3:30-4:30 p.m. every week until May 24, 2018, with the exception of holidays, at the Kimball Art Center, 1401 Kearns Blvd.

The sessions give parents and caregivers a new perspective about art as it pertains to children, MacDonald said.

“The adults can see the process of connecting literary arts — language, the story and visual representations of the illustrations in the book — to an art lesson that reinforces what the kids saw in the story,” she said. “Kids and parents then can get excited to see more of what the Kimball has to offer, and we have commonly seen them registering to join in art classes.”

The Kimball Art Center started Story Time for Tots on a limited run last year.

“It was so successful,” MacDonald said. “We had 198 participants, and that told us that people were excited for this. So, we have scheduled a full year this time.”

The books that are read are selected in different ways, but the bottom line is finding books that have literary credibility.

“The most common is that we select books that are Caldecott or Newbery Award winners,” MacDonald said. “Some people also donate books that they feel would be good stories for us to read. We also have librarians who help us find these books.”

“The books are read by volunteers who are also skilled art teachers, who, during or at the end of the story, engage the kids with questions about the story,” MacDonald said. “Then they lead the art lesson.”

This week’s book is Dr. Seuss’ “Go Dog Go,” and the art project will be the creation of wearable dog ears.

“The art projects, which are set up by [education and exhibitions coordinator] Hailey Wright, are specifically designed for the age range,” MacDonald said. “We want to make sure we do something that not only gets their attention, but also engages them and invites participation.”

The lessons introduce the children to different artistic mediums.

“We’ve had great success with drawing, painting, watercolors and air-dry clay,” MacDonald said. “We want to expose the kids to an array of mediums that can dry in time for them to take home at the end of the story time session.”

Parents and caretakers don’t need to worry about how messy the kids get during the lessons, because the Kimball Art Center will provide oversized T-shirts and aprons for kids if they need them to wear over their clothes while they do the art.

“The real joy for us is being able to present some quality time between children and their parents or caregivers,” MacDonald said.

A free Story Time for Tots session will be held from 3:30-4:30 p.m. every Thursday at the Kimball Art Center, 1401 Kearns Blvd. Tots will enjoy a book and learn an art project themed around the story. The sessions are designed for ages three to five, but all ages are welcome. Parents are invited to stay for the fun, because all tots will need adult supervision. For information, visit Kimball Art Center’s website.