Cultivating Creativity in OKC - Innovative outlets where imaginations can run wild - MetroFamily Magazine
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Cultivating Creativity in OKC – Innovative outlets where imaginations can run wild

by Lindsay Cuomo. Photos provided.

Reading Time: 6 minutes 

OKC offers a wealth of creative opportunities for the whole family. Get creative this spring at these innovative local spots!

Creativity is the simplest form of self-expression because creative activities build confidence and celebrate uniqueness. Maya Angelou said it best: “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

The arts are for more than mere amusement. They invite kids to explore new skills and experiences while boosting sensory exploration, critical thinking and motor skills. Creative play also facilitates imagination and social interaction, which helps build empathy and other interpersonal skills.

 

Visual arts

Oklahoma Contemporary is a multidisciplinary arts center offering a wide variety of educational art-centered opportunities. Museum admission is always free, plus Oklahoma Contemporary provides free family-focused programming throughout the year. Second Saturdays include art-making experiences, gallery tours, music and movement opportunities and much more. Upcoming events on March 9 and April 13 will focus on tiny treasures and a mystery art lab, respectively.

“The mystery art lab is a concept I have wanted to do for a while,” shared Christine Gibson, senior manager of youth and family programs. “We have gathered quite a collection of art supplies, and we want to see what kids and families can make. We are excited to see them go wild!”

Teaching artists will be on hand to provide support and guidance.

The May 11 Second Saturday event is all about summer camp so attendees can get an inside look at the activities available during summer break. No registration is required. Simply show up and expect to have fun.

“We will have a variety of teaching artists on hand sharing what kids can learn about over the summer — ceramics, performance and music, DJing … A little bit of everything,” said Gibson.

Gibson loves seeing kids break down barriers and build confidence, especially during Camp Contemporary, which takes place during spring and summer breaks.

“Art provides self-expression and collaboration, art helps kids become problem solvers,” shared Gibson. “We aren’t looking for perfection; there is no right or wrong. I am always blown away to see kids grow through art.”

Oklahoma Contemporary also offers adult studio classes and workshops. Learn more about their family programming at oklahomacontemporary.org/learn.

 

Additional visual arts options:

  • From jewelry and soap making to quilting, glasswork and mosaic, explore a variety of arts and crafts at The Craft Room in Warr Acres.
  • Edmond Fine Arts Institute offers art classes for kids as young as age 3 up to adults.
  • Admission is always free at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, plus families can print off the FJJMA Art Bingo card for a fun way to explore the art on display.
  • Norman Firehouse Art Center offers after-school classes in a variety of mediums that encourage kids to express themselves through art.
  • Make your next visit to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art a hands-on adventure. Pack a sketch pad and some pencils (pens are not permitted) and spend time drawing or writing about what you see in the galleries. The museum hosts drop-in art activities on the third Saturday of each month. Kids always get in free, and on the second Sunday of each month, adults do, too!
  • Oklahoma City Parks & Recreation offers a wide variety of arts classes and clubs, from toddler classes all the way up to ceramics for seniors.
  • Home to 18 galleries, merchants and artists, the Paseo Arts District offers a variety of workshops from pottery and needlepoint to dance.
  • Try your hand at hand-building, wheel-throwing and glazing at Preacher Pottery. Classes and workshops are available for kids, adult beginners and beyond.

 

Performing arts

OKC Parks and Recreation is on a mission to provide cultural, social and recreational experiences that also promote wellness. Participants in their programs are invited to explore, learn and grow, all in a playful way.

Performing arts programming is offered at several recreation centers, including NW Optimist, Taylor, Southern Oaks and Willa D. Johnson. From jazz band and guitar lessons to dance and musical theatre, kids and adults can tap in to their creativity and learn something new. They even have toddler acting classes, called Creative Dramatics, in which teachers use familiar fairy tales to help little ones practice following directions while exploring their imaginations.

On Saturdays at the Willa D. Johnson Recreation Center, kids can drop in to a dance class from 3 to 5 p.m. The energetic class explores creative movement, music and self-expression utilizing a variety of dance styles. The inclusive environment is tailored to get kids moving and having fun with their peers. Classes are $5 for members. (Memberships start at $10 a month for kids and $15 a month for adults. A $5 discount for youth is available through a scholarship endowment.)

Audition-based productions are open to anyone in the community. OKC Parks’ most recent production, Peter and the Starcatcher, will hit the stage March 7 through 9 at the Taylor Performing Arts Center. Follow OKC Parks on Facebook to keep up with all their fun programming.

 

Additional performing arts options:

  • The American Banjo Museum’s FREE Pick-a-Tune with Lucas sessions provide an introduction to playing the banjo. Participants must preregister online and complimentary museum admission is included.
  • Artworks Academy of Performing Arts offers classes through three schools: School of Dance, School of Theatre and School of Music.
  •  Lyric Theatre’s Thelma Gaylord Academy offers an integrated program that includes private lessons, classes and camps.
  • Oklahoma Children’s Theatre provides live theatre and interactive educational experiences for young audiences, including after-school classes and camps. Running through April 7, see Dr. Suess’s The Cat in the Hat, a theatrical adaptation of the children’s classic starring the mischievous cat.
  • Classes in dance, pom, theater, acrobatics and more are open to all ages and abilities at Studio J Performing Arts Center.
  • The Studio of The Sooner Theatre in Norman offers classes and camps for acting, singing, dance, improv, magic and more.
  • Velocity Dance Center offers ballet, pom, hip hop, jazz and tap classes for kids ages 2 and up. Their Dance with Me class is perfect for toddlers who love to move with their favorite grown-up!

 

Culinary arts

Toddler Doughnut Fun, Belle’s Kitchen

When kids delve into culinary arts, they are channeling all their senses into the creative process, learning how to combine ingredients into delicious results. Plus, they benefit from the math, science and reading involved in cooking!

Aimee Bush, the pastry chef at Belle’s Kitchen in Oklahoma City, has expanded their cooking classes so “families can learn something new and have some fun, too.”

“It is so great to see [participants’] personalities shine,” shared Bush. “Our classes are first and foremost about having fun, and if you walk away with a bit more knowledge, then that’s great, too.”

Belle’s Kitchen offers family, adult, kid and couples classes, as well as camps when school is out. One of their most popular classes is Toddler Donut Fun, which tends to sell out fast.

“The little ones get to use their muscles to roll the dough,” explained Bush. “They get to cut the donuts … and their favorite part is typically adding the sprinkles.”

Kids can also learn how to make macarons, pretzels, cake, candy and more. Classes range from $15 to $40. Week-long camps are $200. Learn more at belleskitchenokc.com.

 

Additional culinary arts options:

 

STEAM

Animation, game design, digital photography, video production, animation – there are so many high-tech creative mediums that kids can explore! At iCode, their belt program builds foundational skills for kids as young as age 5 as they move through color-coded levels exploring programming, computational thinking, graphic design and more. The organization’s Paths programs let kids take a deep dive into their desired STEM topic of choice, including robotics.

“We emphasize soft skills and innovation,” said Kara Brooks, director of iCode Edmond. “Kids work independently and as a team in different areas of the tech world.”

Single-day and weeklong camps challenge kids to create using engineering design processes, mathematical concepts and project management, some of which are centered on popular platforms such as Minecraft, Roblox, virtual reality and YouTube.

“You’d be surprised [by] just how much creativity goes into making a video game,” shared Brooks. “Kids have to create characters, the plot, a narrative and then code it.”

iCode even offers a Digital Fashionista camp for ages 10 to 14 that explores high-tech projects such as LED earrings and light-up clothing.

 

Additional STEAM options: 

  • Library makerspaces are the ultimate creative workshops! Both Metropolitan Library and Pioneer Library systems offer makerspaces equipped with professional-grade tools such as 3D printers and laser engravers that families can access free of charge. You just need a library card.
  • While all of Science Museum Oklahoma inspires creativity, the Tinkering Garage and Tinker Works makerspaces are intentionally designed to pair STEAM experiences with hands-on learning.

 

Whether your child is into cooking, drawing, performing, exploring STEAM or all of the above, OKC’s creative spaces will inspire their imaginations, hobbies and perhaps even career choices. Happy creating!

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