How to Introduce Kids to the Arts
Classes, workshops and events that teach kids drawing and painting, theatre, ceramics and creative writing
Research shows that students involved in the arts are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievements. Whether your kid’s a drama queen, pint-sized Picasso, aspiring sculptor or young author, the Philadelphia area offers classes, workshops and events to nurture his or her passion.
Drawing and Painting
The hands-on element of drawing and painting — controlling a brush, drawing lines, mixing colors — helps to improve hand-eye coordination. There are plenty of ways for kids to grow their talent and deepen their appreciation for the art forms.
Visit local art museums
Pennsylvania: The Barnes Foundation in Philly and the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford offer free admission and art activities the first Sunday of each month. The Philadelphia Museum of Art also offers pay-what-you-wish admission on the first Sunday, as well as weekly on Wednesday nights. These events not only make art more accessible — they expose junior creators to professional artists and influential artworks.
Delaware: Wilmington’s Delaware Art Museum offers discounted admission and art activities during monthly Family Second Sundays.
South Jersey: WheatonArts in Millville offers free admission and family activities on select Saturdays; next up, March 7 & 21.
Join a class
Pennsylvania: Sign up for a class like Painting Fundamentals at the Philly Art Center, where students build skills during studio experience while they explore art history and imagination. Fleisher Art Memorial’s Saturday Young Artists Program, also in the city, offers a drawing-and-painting course that covers the principles of color and design. And at the Main Line Art Center in Haverford, kids in the Sunday Scribbles class get inspired by famous artists and art periods and experiment with color, shape and texture.
Delaware: Try a drawing and painting course at the Art Studio in Wilmington. The five-week experience for ages 10-17 teaches the fundamentals of the art forms, as well as the power of creative self-expression. Short on time? Walk-in canvas painting is available at Middletown’s Your Creation Station.
South Jersey: Join courses like Basic Drawing, Comic Character Design or Painting with Markers at Perkins Center for the Arts, with locations in Collingswood and Moorestown. Not ready for a multi-week commitment? Opt for kids’ canvas workshops at All Fired Up, also in Collingswood.
Mainstage Center for the Arts
Go to a show
Pennsylvania: What better way to acquaint little ones with the stage than seeing it for themselves? Head to Philly’s Walnut Street Theatre for family-friendly performances including Junie B. Jones: The Musical (March 27-April 11) and Nate the Great (May 29-June 6). Storybook Musical Theatre also offers regular kids’ shows at the Gratz College Theatre in Melrose Park, such as Rumpelstiltskin (March 17-29) and The Little Mermaid (May 5-17). The Players Club of Swarthmore, Steel River Playhouse in Pottstown and Wolf Performing Arts Center in Bryn Mawr also host frequent performances for kids.
Delaware: The Delaware Children’s Theatre in Wilmington is an ideal place to start here. Next up: Roald Dahl classics Matilda (March 1, 6, 7 & 8) and James and the Giant Peach (April 25-May 17). Also in Wilmington, The Grand’s Stages of Discovery production series is perfect for young audiences. And, once the weather warms, don’t miss Rehoboth Summer Children’s Theatre performances in Rehoboth Beach.
South Jersey: Visit the Kelsey Theatre in West Windsor for family-friendly performances including Disney’s Frozen Jr. (March 1), Chicken Dance (March 21) and Treasure Island (May 2). Haddon Township’s Ritz Theatre Company also features a full slate of kids’ shows, including The Sword in the Stone (March 19-21) and King Midas and the Golden Touch (April 23-25).
Join a class
Pennsylvania: Arden Theatre Company in Philly offers multi-week classes in acting and musical theatre for PreK through 12th grade, as well as one-day workshops and summer camp. Rose Valley’s Hedgerow Theatre gets students involved in every aspect of what it takes to run a production, from writing to directing to singing or improvising. And at People’s Light in Malvern, spring classes serve ages 5-18 and are themed to tapping into your own courage to display bravery in a character.
Delaware: Clear Space Theatre in Rehoboth Beach trains budding thespians in voice, dance and acting during its Broadway Bound program. The Delaware Theatre Company and Wilmington Drama League offer acting courses as well.
South Jersey: Haddonfield Theater Arts Center holds classes for all experience levels, from “Broadway babies” to a “Center Stage” experience that teaches techniques for auditions, monologues, scene work and improvisation. Blackwood’s Mainstage Center for the Arts caters to PreK through 12th graders with courses in comedy, theatrical makeup, acting for the camera and musical theatre.
The tactile experience of manipulating clay is great for sensory and motor-skill development. The pride that comes from creating an original piece, whether by hand or on the wheel, builds confidence, too.
Get behind the wheel.
Pennsylvania: The Clay Studio in Philly hosts wheel-throwing lessons just for families. During a workshop on March 7, for instance, you’ll get a primer on the practice, then sculpt a spring planter. And, at another often-offered workshop, participants make cups and bowls.
Delaware: Romanick Pottery in Newark lets ages 13 & up learn the ropes in a studio environment, where they’ll craft lidded pots, vases, pitchers and abstract pieces.
South Jersey: The Ceramic Barn in Mt. Laurel provides one-on-one lessons where students are given a pound of clay and all the guidance and materials needed to make a masterpiece on the wheel.
Pennsylvania: The Family Day of Clay program at Wayne Art Center presents a different project each month. Next up, create a pinch-pot bird on March 7. For a deeper dive, eight-week courses at Philly’s Neighborhood Potters include projects featuring fun sculpture forms and creative pottery.
Delaware: At Newark’s Center for the Creative Arts, the Fun with Clay class gives students an opportunity to push, pull and squish the sticky stuff into whatever forms they can dream up, from bowls and cups to sculpted figures and imaginative creatures.
South Jersey: The after-school Clay Club at Haddonfield’s Markeim Arts Center presents a different project each week. With expert guidance, kids sculpt animals, monsters and fairy houses while they learn to make coils, pinch pots and slabs.
Communication, imagination, persistence — creative writing augments growth in these areas and others. Encourage your young wordsmith with opportunities to read, and create, something special.
Share your story
Pennsylvania: Sometimes the best way to improve at something is to, well, just do it. That’s particularly true when it comes to writing. Let the wordplay begin at the Philly-based Mighty Writers, whose free all-ages programs span the literary landscape; offerings include book clubs, after-school classes and workshops in essay writing, journalism, and graphic novels. The teen-focused Philadelphia Youth Poetry Project gives kids a safe space to strengthen their voice via workshops, mentorship and open mic nights.
Delaware: Join the free Future Writers’ Workshop at the Kent County Library in Dover. This teen-oriented event series runs March 11 & 25, followed by four dates throughout spring. Participants focus on a different aspect of the creative process each time via writing prompts, peer review, group activities and outside exercises.
South Jersey: Mighty Writers in Camden provides free all-ages programs that include after-school classes, tutoring and workshops themed to travel, girl power and family.