VERNON — When five-year-old Silas Langner stumbles into Art & Earth After School Care in his rain boots and foggy glasses just before 3 p.m. each day, he shakes his coat, smiles and says, “OK, Maggie, I know the drill.”
The “drill” at Art & Earth is unlike that of any other after school program. After being picked up from Beairsto school by owner/operator Maggie Bangma, she and the children walk two blocks to the front door of the facility, a 1910 heritage home on 26th Street. Inside, they line up their little boots in the coat room and settle into the great room’s sofa for a chat in their slippers.
“We start by sitting and talking about their day. It’s a chance to catch up and just listen to them,” says Bangma, who opened Art & Earth in October to give kids a safe and cozy place to come to after school. “It’s more like home.”
From there, the children help Bangma make a snack, something healthy and handmade, such as fruit kebabs or homemade hummus and carrot sticks.
“I think the little ones learn they can eat fun and tasty things that don’t come out of a box,” says Bangma, who has worked in a handful of daycares and once ran one out of her home to be near her three now grown children.
The kindergarten to Grade 4 students who attend Art & Earth each afternoon (as well as on holidays and PD days) then dive into a yoga pose or game of musical chairs before sinking their fingers into the garden or a jar of paint. Crafts often involve a bit of art and a bit of earth in works such as pine cone portraits.
Bangma wanted to give kids a chance to feel at home as well as explore how things are made, to play and create and imagine again.
“Kids forget how to play, how to get down on the ground and just play,” says Bangma, standing beside board games like Tip It and Battleship. On the opposite wall, above the fireplace, two student-created canvases of mixed media are strung. “I know everyone has creativity inside. They just need the chance to dig in, grab the paintbrush and see where it goes.”
For more information, call Bangma at 250-309-6368 or see www.art-earth.net