It’s the weekend! What’s the plan? This used to be of great concern to me, given I have two active toddler boys who get restless playing at home. I constantly have to find activities for them to keep them engaged and happy, so thank goodness the Whitney Museum offers a family art program where I can give my kids a chance to play and explore!

The Whitney Museum has a world class drop in art program for your kids – who knew! I take my kids there every weekend, as a family ritual for so many reasons:

1) to spend quality time as a family

2) to set expectations (for fun!)

3) to avoid tantrums at home – that’s a big one

4) to have fun making art and develop fine motor skills and focus

Most of us know that there are many benefits of art for kids. The Artful Parent says it best: “Educators tell us that art encourages fine motor skills, neural development, and problem-solving abilities and that it can be used effectively to teach and understand other key subjects such as reading, writing, math, and science. Therapists tell us that art is valuable because it allows children to process their world, to deal with sometimes scary emotions in a safe way, and because it gives them critical sensory input. Artists tell us that art is important for its own sake—as a source of beauty and expression, as well as simply for the process of creating. Kids tell us that art is fun, an activity they enjoy. Parents tell us that art is vital to their families because it keeps everyone engaged and happy and helps with the sometimes difficult transitions of the day. Art is naturally linked to creativity, an attribute that is increasingly being touted as one of the most important factors for the success of individuals, organizations, and cultures.” – Excerpted from The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill Your Family’s Life with Art & Creativity, © 2013 by Jean Van’t Hul.

What happens:

As you leisurely walk in, knowledgeable and personable facilitators as you to take a seat and they explain the project you will be doing that day. They make sure you have all the materials you need. They check in with you to see how you are doing and engage with your kids, asking them questions about their art and the process by which they create. It’s great!

Why Whitney

1) The facilitators try to get to know you; Lowe and Olivia know my kids by name and allow us to be messy. We also love Billie, Jiyoon, Laura, and Rebecca; they greet us with a friendly smile and make sure we have everything we need to work on the project of the day.

2) You can come in any time when the program is open and take as much or as little time as you need to complete your project.

3) There are a variety of projects, usually changing every weekend.

4) Family Open Art studio is free with admissions, but if you get a membership for $85, you can get your money’s worth in 4 visits (for us 1 month) – well worth it!!

Who: Your Family!

What: Family Open Art Studio – free with admissions

When: Saturdays and Sundays (generally) 10:30am-2pm but check the schedule

Where: Whitney Museum of Art – 99 Gansevoort, between Washington and West

How: nearest subway 14th St. A/C/E/L

Why: To spend quality time with your kids and have fun making cool art projects!

The 2017 Biennial Family Day is happening Saturday, May 6, 2017 from 9:30am-3pm, featuring the artist Jessi Reaves, whose work is seen on the 5th and 6th floor. If you’re in town, check it out!

Check out Family Programs Calendar of Events

Here are some of our family projects; you can find more on my Pinterest Page.

(All photos copyright @yvettejain)