City workshops bring art to the tot lots, playgrounds

Sunshine, fresh air, socialization and Cheerio-bracelet-making? Sounds like the answer to the prayer of parents or caretakers with little ones on their hands this summer, but with no money for camp and too-crazy a schedule for regular commitments.

Now celebrating its 11th year of bringing a wide range of cultural offerings to city greenspaces, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department's ParkARTS program with help from Comcast will once again sponsor a series of free drop-in children's craft workshops. Three of the 12 sites this summer are in Dorchester or Mattapan.

These Artists in Residence Craft Workshops are geared for those three to 10. Toddlers can do simpler version of the day's project like scribbling colors on a paper plate kite, while the big kids can create real faces with paste-on googly-eyes and raffia hair. Children may come and go as they please between 9 a.m. and noon, but there must be an adult with them.

On Tuesdays, folks can join the fun at either Martin Playground Tot Lot, Dorchester or at Hunt/Almont Playground, Mattapan. (July 8, 15, 22 & 29 and August 5 & 12.)

On Fridays the crafting moves to Town Field in Fields Corner July 11, 18 & 25 and Aug. 1, 8, and 15.

Sessions, which can attract up over 50 youngsters, are run by two art teachers from Chelsea High School, who have worked at these sites before: Erika Shorey and Judy Komarow. Teachers provide all the craft materials, obtained from places like Dot's ExCL Recycle Center.

Shorey emphasizes that though ParkARTS does accept reservations from summer programs like Mattapan's tennis-and-reading program Tenacity, "This is not daycare. It is primarily geared for parents and kids to spend time together learning to play creatively."

As an exciting extra Bank of Boston sponsors live theater at the Tuesday locations. On July 22 at 11 a.m. the Boston Children's Theatre will perform of "The Stolen Prince," a half hour show in the style of a Chinese folk tale, for the Tot Lot gang. On Aug. 12 at 11 the BCT Stagemobile will be at the Hunt/Almont for "Rumpelstiltskin."

For information on this and other ParkARTS programs, please call the Boston Parks and Recreation Department at 617-635-4505, ext. 3051.