Love, Joleen: Toddler Takeover Event + The New Mo Willems Exhibit at the High Museum of Art | Atlanta, Georgia

Monday, June 1, 2015

Toddler Takeover Event + The New Mo Willems Exhibit at the High Museum of Art | Atlanta, Georgia

Friday, Benjamin and I attended the first day of a three-day toddler event, taking place at the High Museum of Art [Atlanta] and Woodruff Arts Center. It was Benjamin's first visit to the museum, which was so special for me, as it's one of my favorite places in the city. (It's also the location of mine and my husband's first date and where he proposed to me!)
The second annual Toddler Takeover - "an arts festival for the very young!" - was organized by The Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and High Museum of Art. The schedule included theatre, music, and art workshops, as well as yoga, free play, and storytime. Tickets to the event also included admission to the museum to see the new Mo Willems exhibit, Seriously Silly!, and the opportunity to see Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical and Blub, Blub [with prior reservations]. 
Blub, Blub is an "underwater" playscape for children 0–2 years old, designed to engage them in the joy of theatre and the wonder of the ocean. When you step into the room - a set meant to engage all the senses - children are handed a turtle shell or shark's fin to wear and become part of the school of fish. The room is lit with whimsical "bubbles" and strewn "sea-weed" lights; the floors covered in plush rugs, foam "ocean" flooring, and individual clam-like seats. For 30 minutes, young children and their parents get to experience interactive theatre and original music. It's really, very sweet. Benjamin was on the older side of attendees, and although he enjoyed himself, I would recommend this for children younger than him. Blub, Blub is officially open June 6th to August 2nd!
After Blub, Blub, we went to the art workshop - a large room with various stations for creating artwork. Each station had typed up directions for how children could best enjoy the supplies provided. The general theme of each station was to tell a story. The concepts were a bit old for Benjamin, but the exercises were still quite enjoyable. The station with the easels and personal cassette players was our favorite. Children were encouraged to listen to the music and let it inspire their drawing. We absolutely loved this station.
Benjamin also enjoyed the station with story-telling rocks. Older kids could create stories with the rocks, and then draw or write them down on provided clipboards. Benjamin found joy just laying all the rocks out next to one another.
One nook contained several empty tubes, boxes, and tape. Children were encouraged to build whatever they wanted. Other stations included supplies to build with clay, a sticky wall to adhere pompoms and sticks, a wall to color, musical instruments to play, books to read, and more.
The one other workshop we attended was "Lil' Yogis". This was a yoga class geared toward young children. The theme was "colors" and the instructor kept the class flowing with fun movement. I was impressed with Benjamin's attention span for this workshop, since he's never taken a formal class before, but we still ended up leaving a little early. 
Tickets to Toddler Takeover included admission to the High Museum, where families could join a stroller tour or walk through the museum on their own. I was thrilled that Benjamin's first museum visit would be to see such a fun exhibit - Seriously Silly! The art & whimsy of Mo Willems
Inside the exhibit, there was a storytime area set up with a giant rug and bean bags, where volunteers were reading to several children. Benjamin and I walked around, enjoying the illustrations. He especially loved the wall of ice cream cones.
The event lasted until 5 pm but that is a very long day for a 2.5 year old (and mommy!). We ended up staying around 4 hours. Several times that day, and before we left, we went outside to enjoy Los Trompos (Spinning Tops) - found on the Sifly Piazza, between the High and Arts Center. The colorful, life-size tops came in all shapes and vibrant colors. People of all ages could be found sitting and spinning throughout the Piazza. It made my heart happy to see people enjoying art in this way. I love that this interactive collection is free for anyone to come and experience!
If you missed Toddler Takeover this year, don't be sad. The High offers weekly workshops for toddlers [ages 2 to 4] called Toddler Thursdays, and the program is free with museum admission. Also, beginning June 7th, Woodruff Arts Center is offering FREE family fun, every Sunday from noon to 5 pm. Maybe we'll even see you there some time! 
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