Kreatelier: Sewing Workshops for Children

The proud owner of a handmade doll–that is, made by her very own hands.

Soccer, gymnastics, piano — these are the afterschool activities that may typically come to mind. But sewing?

Since Geoff bought himself a sewing machine last year, our five-year-old daughter has taken an interest in a new type of arts–the material kind. So for her birthday, she received a private sewing workshop from Kreatelier’s Alexis Cormier. When I left her there with Geoff, I figured she’d make a little hand-puppet or something. Instead, I arrived an hour later to discover she had nearly completed a doll in her own likeness, down to the curly hair.

Of course, in addition to the sewing workshops for children and adults, Kreatelier is also a store selling locally handmade bags, pillows, fabric jewelry, clothes and other items. And for anyone not interested in making a doll from scratch, those are for sale too–complete with custom clothes and shoes.

804 Hope Street
Providence, RI

Rock-a-Baby for Little Music Lovers

Melody, Rhythm and Harmony - the Rock-a-Baby puppets.

Combine a live band, familiar rock-n-roll songs, and three clever puppets, and you get Rock-a-Baby, a musical learning experience for babies and toddlers. The classes originated in New York City, although watching a video from one of the NYC classes makes me glad I live in the much more low key (and less populous) state of Rhode Island.

Madeline and I joined one of the first Providence sessions this fall with about a half dozen other children ranging in age from six months to three years. Each class, hosted by singer Kate, pianist Marc, and guitarist Benny, focused on a different ‘theme of the week’ with songs to match and a new instrument in the spotlight to explore. The format perfectly balanced the repetition kids need (starting class with the same song and ending with bubble time, for example), while offering some new exposure to instruments or musical concept. Even adults were entertained by the repertoire of songs and the Henson-like humor of the Rock-a-Baby puppets.

Alas, as much as I loved Rock-a-Baby, Madeline is getting a bit old for it so we may try some classes at the RI Philharmonic this spring. I mean, she could be playing Beethoven’s waltzes at four-years-old. As for our new addition, Lucy, I’m sure she’ll be a Rock-a-Baby fan as soon as she can stay awake long enough to attend a class.

The 2011 classes begin in January, but for a preview you can see the Rock-a-Baby group perform as part of the Bright Night celebration in Providence, RI on December 31 at 1:30 and 3:30 pm at the Providence Children’s Museum.

Classes in Providence and Warwick, RI

OM Kids Yoga in the Park

Kids enjoy a group yoga class at Brown Street Park.

If you think a 3-year-old is too young for yoga, think again.  I sat amazed as I watched about a dozen children remain fairly focused while they chanted “om” and assumed a variety of positions on their yoga mats.  Led by Elyse Rotondo who will be opening up her own yoga studio in the next few months, the class is a fun and gentle introduction to yoga for kids.  And it’s free.

Yoga teaches the kids how to focus, stretch and relax.

Yoga Instructor Elyse Rotondo

Brown Street Park
Brown Street between Creighton and Halsey Streets
Providence, RI

Note: Since this post, Om Kids Yoga Studio has opened in Pawtucket:

Om Kids Yoga Studio
Hope Artiste Village
999 Main Street
Suite 702
Pawtucket, RI

Renaissance Gymnastics Academy

2013 NOTE: I can no longer recommend Renaissance Gymnastics Academy due to their poor make-up policy. After paying $72/month in lessons for gymnastics, they canceled two due to snow and one due to February vacation–so that comes to $72 for a 55 minute class. Although they promised a make-up class, they never came through with one.  There are plenty of better places to take gymnastics I’ve discovered — like Aim High Academy which has locations in East Greenwich, RI and Johnston, RI.

Madeline jumps out some extra energy on the trampoline.

During the winter, I decided to sign up Madeline for gymnastics classes to expend all that extra energy she seems to have (too bad it’s not transferable).  So on the advice of some other parents, I decided to try a free trial class at the Renaissance Gymnastics Academy in East Providence.  I figured she’d do a few somersaults, jump around a bit, and have a blast.

As it turns out, it’s even better.  Her teacher Joanna sets up a structured routine (different for each class) that keeps the kids moving constantly and changing activities quickly.  For the Little Tykes program, activities might include an obstacle courses for the kids, some practice hanging from the horizontal bar, and donkey kicks on the trampoline.  The gym itself boasts an impressive array of equipment including several trampolines, balance beams, bars, mats, and the favorite — a large pit filled with foam cubes that the kids jump into and climb out of.

In addition to their classes, the gym is open to the public ($10/child) at scheduled times for Open Play (children walking to age 5) and Open Gym (ages 6 and up).

Renaissance Gymnastics Academy
885 Waterman Avenue
East Providence, RI