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An artful look at the world


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POSTED: Monday, September 14, 2009

A dose of creativity and a “;can do”; attitude are a couple of things kids can acquire at the Growing Nest's keiki art classes for children ages 18 months to 5 years old.

Many of the 40-plus children enrolled in the classes were on hand to see their art on display for the first time at the store's “;Go Green! Kids' Art Show,”; which runs through the end of the month.

“;There are few classes or programs out there that reach such a young audience,”; said Growing Nest owner Jen Kunishima Sarsuelo. “;These children, many who work with a parent or grandparent, learn to follow directions, be a creative risk taker and incorporate recycled items into their art projects. The projects help them work on their fine motor skills. The structure and completion of a project allows them to feel a sense of accomplishment. We have structure but they still have creative choices.”;

The kids learn confidence in the process.

“;I can do it all by myself,”; said 3-year-old Tanner Fujino as he filled his vegetable garden pots with dirt. “;I'm going to water my plants every day.”;

Tanner's mother, Jenny, started bringing her son to class because he wasn't otherwise exposed to other children.

“;He's really shy,”; said Fujino. “;He now refers to the children as his friends. By coming here, his attention span is longer, and he has gained so much confidence.”;

The class combined art with science, focusing on sustainability. While learning to classify vegetables, the children cut open a tomato, made their own plant labels and planted their own miniature gardens of carrots, pumpkins, watermelons and tomatoes, all while learning about colors, shapes and object grouping.

“;Projects are the best way to build focus,”; Sarsuelo said. “;Normally, you wouldn't plant things in an art class. But they are learning two- to three-step directions—like making a hole in the dirt, placing a seed and covering it up. These are high-level skills for a 2-year-old.

“;Teaching them about the concepts of reusing and recycling things is so important. We use a lot of recycled items that they bring from home. It's nice for them to see these things being transformed into art.”;

DURING THE past decade, Sarsuelo has dabbled in several island retail concepts, including Hawaii Doggie Bakery for pets, Native Books & Beautiful Things for island craft and gift items, and Cottage by the Sea for jewelry and fashion. The Growing Nest, her newest venture, evolved because many of her customers began starting families. The store opened about a year ago.

As a new mom herself, Sarsuelo envisioned a store with an educational mission. In addition to art classes, kids yoga is featured twice a week, as well as music and ukulele classes. Parent seminars and baby sign language classes are also among the offerings.

“;We never repeat a class, but the recycled art project always corresponds to a science lesson,”; she said.

To coincide with a weather theme, kids made kites out of newspapers and wind chimes out of beach glass. For an endangered-animals segment, paper plates were used to shape panda bears, and for a safari topic, giraffes were made from paper towel rolls. Another day, Zippy's chili buckets were transformed into drums and papier-mache parrots were created from newspapers, feathers and paint.

“;We use lots of newspaper and magazines for stuffing,”; Sarsuelo said. “;We are hoping that they grow up as citizens who innately recycle and reuse ... that they think about things differently.”;

Go Green! Art & Science classes are offered on Mondays and Saturdays. For a complete list of classes, visit www.thegrowingnest.com/store/classes or call 591-2881.