Looking to help your little artist tap into his creative spirit? There are SO many excellent places for toddlers, preschoolers and pre-K kids to take an art class in this city — and we’re not just talking about doing craft projects. You can find anything from illustration to sewing to ceramics and more around here, if you know where to look. Here’s a good place to start — our round-up of places in (and near) the city for artsy extracurriculars. (PS. Got bigger kids? Most of these spots have classes for older kids, too.) (PPS. Almost all of these places also do camps and parties … not to mention other types of classes beyond visual arts.)
The spot: Philly Art Center — Fairmount, Queen Village and Cherry Hill
Some art classes to know about: Starting as young as 20 months (with a parent-kid “art start” course), classes at this this beloved Philly staple offer a ton of options for little kids, including intros to drawing, painting, sculpting, printing, fibers, clay work, sewing, ceramics, building and more … as well as deep dives into specific media, as well.
The spot: Sue’s Art Class & Create Studio — Rittenhouse
Some art classes to know about: There’s such a neat range of classes here for everyone, but for the very little ones (3- to 5-year-olds), there’s mom-and-me classes as well as the occasional one-session “workshops” aimed at kids 3 and up and their caregivers. (Some of the workshops aimed at kids 6 and up — often planned on days when school is out — are open to younger ones, too, with parents in attendance.)
The spot: Lume Creative Learning Studios — East Passyunk
Some art classes to know about: Drop-in toddler paint time and “free-range art” for kids 18 months to 4 years; after-school art (with pickup) for kids 5 and up; family painting workshops; and currently, a “black magic illustration studio”, which celebrates artists of color for kids 5 to 9. And that’s just for starters. This place offers new and intriguing, artsy classes on the regular, for kids of all ages and interests.
The spot: PlayArts –Fishtown
Some art classes to know about: The bright, beautiful Fishtown space is another spot with a ton of ever-changing creative-type classes, but among the visual arts at the moment, you can look for “print, paint and play”, which incorporates art-making (with themes!) and play for 3- to 5-year-olds. (There’s a class like that for older ones, as well.)
The spot: Clay Studio — Old City
Some art classes to know about: The Clay Studio sometimes offers classes for slightly older kids (6 and up), but they also offer the occasional family workshop for kids 4 and up, where you can your your hands in some clay and try out the wheel alongside your littles.
The spot: Portside Arts Center — Kensington
Some classes to know about: The Portside Arts Center has an after-school arts program for pre-K on up through sixth graders, wherein kids get exposed to “the fundamentals of the arts: line, shape, form, value, space, color and texture.” They also have Saturday “mini-camps” for kids 4 to 12, going from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., wherein the kiddos focus on a different type of project every week.
The spot: The Parkway Museums — Center City
Some classes to know about: The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) offers FREE art workshops on Sundays for families with kids of all ages. (They have camps, too, for kids as young as 4.) Meantime, Art Splash at the PMA just kicked off, and runs all summer with programming for families, including art-making projects (the program is drop-in and free with admission), plus the family art cart on Sundays and family workshops on Saturdays also allows for some art-making. Additionally, you can sign kids 3 and up take proper art classes (which we’ve written about before — although the next round of classes won’t start until fall). Finally, the Barnes also also art-making for littles on some Thursdays (toddler time!) and on their FREE first Sundays (family workshops!).
The spot: Woodmere — Chestnut Hill
Some classes to know about: One Sunday a month, this beautiful museum in Chestnut Hill offers free storytime and art-making for 3- to 5-year-olds, and there are also art classes of several type for slightly older children. (Sculpture! Watercolor! Drawing!)
The spot: Fleisher Art Memorial –– Bella Vista
Some classes to know about: For kids 5 and up, Fleisher offers tuition-free Saturday classes in the fall, winter and spring that cover anything from painting and drawing to mixed media to silkscreen to printmaking. (They’re so popular that Fleisher has instituted a lottery system for kids who are interested.) Also for kids 5 and up, the summer workshops are basically day-long or partial-day camps, wherein the littles can focus on a variety of themes, like artistically recreating animals at the zoo, outer space and more.
The spot: Six Senses Clay Studio — Mt Airy
Some classes to know about: Kids’ clay classes are open for little ones as young as 4 — you can drop them off or stay and watch. There’s also family classes on Sunday and after-school options in the fall.
The spot: Manayunk-Roxborough Art Center
Some classes to know about: Kids 4 to 17 can take half-day or all-day summer classes in topics whose themes range from natures to community and identity to expression … and they’ll be working with paints, ink, watercolor, printmaking, lithography, fabrics and more.
Plus …a few spots in the ’burbs: We could make this list quite a bit longer if we included all the suburban options (eek!), but instead we’re just going to point out a couple not-so-far-flung spots where you can find some out-of-the-ordinary classes of note: At Narberth’s The Handwork Studio, they focus on sewing: The classes are for kindergartners on up, but they do also offer one-day “camps” where kids learn to sew stuff, and those are aimed at babes 5 and up. The Main Line Art Center in Haverford offers all sorts of family classes and kid-focused courses designed to include kids as young as 3 (drawing, painting, ceramics, mosaics, mixed media, and etc.), and the Wayne Art Center also offers classes (clay, painting, collage, printmaking) for kids beginning at two.