Toddlers practiced their motor skills chopping bananas for fruit salad last week as part of the first week of classes offered through Rocky Mountain Arts for Tots, a new business.
“And now you’re chefs,” teacher and business owner Grace Acosta told the group of seven students as they mixed fruit and whipped cream with plastic utensils.
Rocky Mountain Arts for Tots offers arts, crafts and culinary classes for children 3 to 5 years old at Durango Community Recreation Center.
Acosta was a preschool teacher for about 40 years before starting the business, she said.
“I really missed the kids. ... They have always been my passion,” she said.
The model for Rocky Mountain Arts for Tots is based on a similar business she ran in Nevada, she said.
Ysabel Nygren signed her daughter Gabriella Nygren, 3, up for the classes because she is always looking for opportunities for her daughter to practice her social and motor skills.
“It’s hands-on and it’s interactive and it gives them the opportunity to interact,” she said.
The classes will be offered in six-week sessions and students will participate in different activities in each class, Acosta said. At the first art class, students painted water color trees, and in future classes, students will work with sand and clay, she said.
The business is contracted with the city Parks and Recreation Department to offer the classes, she said.
The city contracts with numerous independent businesses to offer classes in niche areas, such as kayaking and scuba diving, and helps business owners with marketing, said Ann Camp, recreation facility operations supervisor for Parks and Recreation.
The city can also offer contractors space for their classes, if it is available, she said. Independent contractors pay the city 30% of their program fees, Camp said. Acosta plans to offer classes through the city through next year.
Rocky Mountain Arts offers a storytime and craft class at 9 a.m. Mondays and an art class at 9 a.m. Tuesdays. The culinary classes are offered at 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays and 9 a.m. Thursdays.
A six-week session is $48 and a single class is $8.
Students and parents are welcome to drop into the classes.
For more information, email Acosta at email@example.com.