73~2324~1000104~1000101~ Little makers - City News - DailyTidings.com - Ashland, OR

    Little makers

    Young children are encouraged to create art and get messy at the new Oak Street studio, Little Makerspace
  • When middle school science teacher Becka Kem of Ashland looked for an early childhood art classroom for her 2-year-old son, she found there weren't any.
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  • When middle school science teacher Becka Kem of Ashland looked for an early childhood art classroom for her 2-year-old son, she found there weren't any.
    She also found that many toddlers don't get to experiment beyond crayons because their parents are fearful of the inevitable mess of paint and other art supplies.
    So Kem decided to open an art studio for all Ashland kids under 7, setting up individual stations for various art media. Kem helps direct the wee ones' art projects and asks parents to stay with their children and oversee and encourage their art.
    Kem's business is called Ashland's Little Makerspace and it's located at 310 Oak St., in the former Cantwell's Market building. Its website can be found at www.ashlandslittlemakerspace.com.
    "The little kids get really messy, but we clean it up," says Kem. "Parents come along to class and experience art with their children, so they both learn together."
    Little Makerspace opened July 1 and serves from two to eight children at any time. It is building toward a maximum of 15.
    "There is no place like this," says Juliana Crespo, as her daughter Luna, 4, dressed in a smock, paints broad bands on a big piece of paper with a big brush.
    "There's space here for the kids to make as much mess as they want and the parents don't have to clean it up," says Crespo.
    The center uses recycled materials and encourages parents to bring in their own materials and incorporate them into the art, says Crespo, an employee.
    Parents are often surprised at the huge piles of art their children bring home at the end of a few hours, says Crespo.
    "It's definitely needed in the community," says Kem, 33. The focus is on older toddlers. The school in the fall will be adding classes for kids up to 7.
    Kids and parents are welcome to drop in for an hour or two, or stay all day.
    Kem teaches baby sign language on site for pre-verbal kids 8 to 18 months old.
    Regular classes include baby fingerpainting, play dough, chalkboard, mosaic, wall drawing and paper crafts. Other classes are on clouds painting, tissue-paper stained glass and foam and pipe-cleaner sculptures.
    Kem also teaches sculpture using Oobleck, a substance made from one part water, two parts cornstarch and a little food coloring. The name comes from a fanciful 1949 Dr. Seuss book.
    "The classes really help parents to loosen up to art and feel confident," says Kem. "Another great trend is we're seeing more and more grandparents bringing the kids in."
    Admission is $12 for the first child and $8 for each additional child. Smocks and use of materials is included.
    Kem, a long-distance runner, has a science education degree from Oregon State University and taught middle school science for six years.
    John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.
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