*I received a gift card as a thank you for writing this story.*
My first memories of crafts involve Michaels craft stores. My mom went to our local branch in Missoula, Montana every now and then, and I loved everything about the experience. The way the artificial flowers scented the air, reminiscent of eucalyptus and dust and old lady perfume. The bins of discount crafts and kitsch decor. The miles of scrap booking supplies. Michaels holds a special place in my heart – it’s a sacred space where no hard memories intrude, and joy and wonder permeate my remembrance of time shared with my mother.
I was invite to sit in on the third class in this year’s Passport To Imagination series, at the store in Rockford, Illinois. The theme for 2014 is “Museum Road Trip”, and the first fifty kids to attend at each store receive free souvenir albums to store one of the two projects they make each week.
Passport To Imagination is intended for children ages five and up, and costs only $2 for up to two hours. Parents are welcome to sit in on the class, or shop kids-free with the assurance that their littles will be entertained and safe (kids aren’t allowed to leave the craft room without a parent). A very nice store associate named Amanda taught the class; she was fantastic with the kids and their parents, and answered all of my questions easily. I really enjoyed her fun personality, and watching her interact with the kids.
I had intended to take my niece, Cinda, along to enjoy the class, but I accidentally double booked her – she was already scheduled to attend our church’s Back Yard Bible Club at the band shell this week. Thankfully, two of the parents at the class graciously allowed me to photograph their cute kids, so I can share the fun with you!
The Passport To Imagination series runs every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10am to 12 noon for seven weeks. I attended Week 1 Day 3 – The Field Museum (which is practically in my backyard, in Chicago, and now on my list of cool places to visit with my daughter when she’s a little bit older).
Each week, there’s a “Destination Project”, an “Album Project”, and an “At-Home Project”. Day 3 focused on the natural world, and I thought the projects were pretty stinkin’ cute!
Day 3’s “Album Project” was Tree Frog Printmaking. The kids traced the outline of a tree frog onto craft foam, then cut out the frog, coated it with green paint, and then pressed it gently onto a piece of white card stock. It was a fun idea, but the kids had mixed results which came close to tears in two of the three kids who tried it, so Amanda wisely moved on to the second project.
The “Destination Project” for Day 3 was Life Cycle Of A Butterfly. Using a variety of fun craft supplies including googly eyes, colorful puff balls, and gauzy tissue paper in a rainbow of colors, the kids constructed a leaf with butterfly eggs, a caterpillar, a cocoon on a branch, and a butterfly. Every child’s life cycle was different, and all of them were super cute. It was awesome, seeing each child’s imagination at work!
The “At-Home Project” each day is, of course, totally optional, and you have to purchase the supplies yourself if you want to do it with your kids (all supplies are provided for the in-class projects – a pretty killer deal when you realize your $2 covers what works out to about 2 hours of babysitting with a craft instructor + a whole pile of craft supplies). Day 3’s project was a Tiger Puzzle. The series’ catalog also includes a “Tech-Free Challenge” or a book suggestion for each day, as well as a fun puzzle.
I really enjoyed my visit to Michaels craft room, and plan to reschedule with my niece soon. She will love this! Depending on the complexity of the project, my 3.5 year old nephew might, too. I’m hoping to take Cinda on Week 6 Day 2 – “Museum At The Fashion Institute Of Technology: NYC.” The “Destination Project” for that day is a Fashion Doll! If she can’t go that day – or maybe even if she can – I want to take both Cinda and Nico on Week 7 Day 3 (the last day of the series) – “Montreal Museum Of Fine Arts.” The “Destination Project” is to make a Shaker & Clapper Sticks, and the “Album Project” is Musical Art which is really cute. I’m also excited to try out one of the adult classes Michaels offers!
Which Day Looks Like The Most Fun To You?
Click HERE to see the itinerary!
You can register your kids online or at your local Michaels store.
The Passport To Imagination series runs from June 16th – August 1st.
Disclosure: I received a gift card as a thank you for attending a Passport To Imagination class at my local Michaels, and for writing this article. All opinions are my own. To learn more about my policies, check out my Disclosure.