Readers' Choice Winner

Best art program: Abrakadoodle

The Baltimore Sun
Abrakadoodle voted best art program

Want to foster creativity in your budding Picasso? Abrakadoodle can help. The national organization, which has several local franchises, offers classes, camps and parties that educate children about art and inspire them to unleash their inner artistic flair.

“We go into elementary schools, preschools, play centers and other locations to provide art classes to children ages 2 to 12,” explains Lisa Marianelli, executive director of the Howard County/Central Maryland franchise.

When Marianelli and her team arrive at a location, they bring everything with them — from paper to inspiration. But they leave the preconceived notions at home.

“We emphasize creativity and imagination and encourage kids to learn through the process,” says Marianelli. “Some programs specifically tell you how to draw — what’s ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ We give children freedom to learn through the process and not expect a particular cookie-cutter outcome where everyone’s art looks the same.”

Abrakadoodle lessons cover a variety of artistic styles, materials and forms and introduce children to people in the arts, from the old masters to modern-day artists working in unexpected places.

“We go all the way back to the masters but are also inspired by artists working today,” says Marianelli. “We might have a surfboard artist working in California. That brings art alive and makes it real.” She wants children to realize that there are many different styles of art — and they are all great.

Art education is practical, notes Marianelli, explaining that it helps children develop problem-solving skills, language and social skills, and fine motor abilities. She says that Abrakadoodle’s broad approach to art helps children both in life and in the classroom. “Kids develop confidence, and it helps students connect different things they’re learning in school with math, science and reading,” she says.

Plus, it’s fun. “In this competitive world, kids are always told what’s right and wrong. They have so many standards to live up to in school,” she says. “This gives them a nice creative outlet they can explore.” — Kit Waskom Pollard

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