Class acts for creative families: Fun Family Classes!
posted by: Guest Blogger
Theresa Nuber can’t sing. Fortunately, her duet partner hasn’t noticed.
Every Thursday morning, Nuber and her 18-month-old daughter, Eva, attend The Music Train, a family music class in their neighborhood.
From sign language to tumbling, family classes aren’t just for Type-A competitive parents. Some stay-at-home moms relish the social benefits of a scheduled group activity, and working parents appreciate outings that optimize precious time with their kids.
Nuber sought out The Music Train despite the indignity of being released by her own grade-school piano teacher for lack of “ear.”
“Honestly, I was thinking music class would be grueling, listening to baby music constantly,” says the Denver mom. “But I knew it would be good for Eva, so I found one I thought I could handle.”
Now she heartily recommends the program to friends. For Nuber, the 45-minute weekly class brings positive energy to the whole week at home.
“When we listen to the music,” she says, “(Eva) does the motions, sings along and makes me sing too.”
Parents like this are well-advised to manage expectations. Music class for a 6-month-old won’t guarantee a future Mozart, but the class will provide fun and stimulating quality time.
Local parents-in-the-know helped compile this list of parent/kid classes.
Mom will swoon the first time her 9-month-old “asks” for more oatmeal with a simple fist-thumping sign. Amazingly, babies as young as 5 months can communicate with simple American Sign Language, or ASL, signs taught by Signing Smart instructors. This is a national company that trains and certifies its instructors to use its research-based curriculum. Classes are offered along the Front Range, including instructor Rina Coury’s popular Central Denver classes, Signing Child. (Details at signingchild.com.) The 45-minute classes are play-based. Each session focuses on a theme like food or animals.
Recommended ages: 5 months to 2 years. There are Signing Smart locations throughout Colorado. Beginner classes start at $165 for a 10-week series. Classes for the next session have been reduced to $160 per 10-week session. For more information, visit signingsmart.com.
Not every child is built for sitting cross-legged in a circle for a 45-minute class. Neither is every parent. High-energy families should check out the Lil’ Kickers indoor soccer programs at Stapleton’s Bladium Sports & Fitness Club. Enthusiastic instructors direct kids (and their adults) in various games to encourage coordination, teamwork and general fitness. Activities aren’t limited to ball sports, so non-soccer parents can still have a good time. Bonus: The kids get their own soccer jersey.
Recommended ages: 18 months and older. Classes cost $145 for a 13-week session, plus a $25 soccer membership fee for non-Bladium members. Bladium Sports & Fitness Club, 2400 Central Park Blvd., Denver, 303-320-3033; bladium.com.
The Denver Art Museum has designed the ultimate class for creative types. Create Playdates unleash kids’ inner artist through stories, projects and scavenger hunts around the museum. Offered at 11 a.m. on the second Wednesday of each month, these fun, free sessions each follow a different theme relating to current exhibitions. November’s theme is “Blog”; December’s theme is “Stomp.”
Recommended ages: 3 to 5 years. Children under 5 are free with a paid adult admission. No reservations required. Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Parkway., Denver, 720-913-0073; denverartmuseum.org.
The Music Train
This locally based music class designed by Anya Thomson takes a global approach. Each 10-week session has kids (and their adults) tapping along to a range of music including Irish folk, classical and jazz. Participants get to sing, dance and try out various instruments.
Thomson records local musicians for her take-home CDs and organizes monthly kid-friendly concerts at Arvada’s D-Note pub.
Recommended ages: 6 months to 4 years. Classes cost $120 for a 10-week session. There are locations in Denver and Evergreen; 720-253-7673 or ridethemusictrain.com.
Sticky Fingers Cooking
For once, relax and enjoy an ooey-gooey mess — because it’s not in your kitchen. This popular children’s cooking school offers hour-long, monthly classes featuring healthy, seasonal ingredients and practical kitchen techniques. Kids also love the fancy kitchen tools specially designed for smaller hands.
Tasty menus encourage adventurous eating, and the curriculum was developed by moms who understand. With parental assistance, kids can either make a snack to share during class or a full meal to take home. Did we mention that you don’t have to do the dishes?
Recommended ages: 2 to 5 years. Various locations including Littleton, the Children’s Museum of Denver and central Denver; 303-648-4078; stickyfingerscooking.com.
Morrison Nature Center
Make a family date for Nature at Night on the third Friday of each month at this outdoor learning outpost in Aurora. Nature at Night classes cover such topics as bats or coyotes, and are created by naturalists with kids and families in mind. They generally begin inside the nature center and then proceed outside for a fun, instructor-led walk. (Strollers? Not the best idea.)
This is one of many inexpensive, family-friendly learning opportunities at the Morrison Nature Center. Others include wildlife photography walks, guided birding walks and day camps, like the one offered the day after Thanksgiving.
Recommended ages for Nature at Night: 5 and older. Nature at Night is free; registration suggested. Morrison Nature Center at Star K Ranch, 16002 E. Smith Road, Aurora, 303- 739-2428; auroragov.org/nature.
Sometimes the priority is burning off boundless kid energy, especially once the weather cools. For those days, there’s My Gym, with three Front Range locations.
There’s a reason this nationwide chain of indoor play centers is so popular with Denver parents: MyGym is on the ball. Beginning with music and movement and moving on to tumbling and climbing, the wide range of parent/child class options at My Gym grows with the kids. This place is also great for birthday parties.Recommended ages: 6 months to 3 1/2 years. Locations in Castle Rock, Highlands Ranch and Arvada. Prices vary. my-gym.com.
Gateaux’s Gingerbread House Workshop
One of Denver’s premier bakeries has devised a fun, family-friendly, one-time-only holiday class from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 22. For the first time, this shop — known for its award-winning cupcakes and elegant, tiered special-event cakes — invites pint-sized bakers and their parents into the kitchen for a pastry-chef-led lesson in making and decorating gingerbread houses. Participants will bake the bread from scratch, whip up the icing and then go to town decorating their creations with vibrant candies.
Recommended ages: 7 to 16 years. The cost is $100 per child and includes materials. Space is limited. 1160 Speer Blvd., Denver, 303-376-0070; gateauxpastries.com.
This “Outside Guide: Family Classes – Class acts for creative families” was originally published by The Denver Post and written by Rebecca L. Olgeirson.