High Museum of Art
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High Museum of Art

Toddler Talk with Melissa Katzin

The arts play a crucial role in toddlers’ development, which is why we provide robust programming for our youngest visitors. Learn more about the High Museum of Art’s toddler programs with our Manager of Family Programs, Melissa Katzin.

By Brittany Mizell, Public Relations Specialist, High Museum of Art

Melissa Katzin

The first few years of a child’s life are an important time for physical growth, but they’re also a time when children gain crucial skills that they will use throughout their lives. Some of those skills can be learned by participating in the arts from a young age. Through the arts, toddlers can developing motor skills, communication (both verbal and nonverbal), decision-making ability, and cultural awareness. With an array of toddler programming aimed at strengthening these skills, and offering a nurturing environment, we encourage children to learn from art to promote their development and abilities and discover how to express themselves in different ways.

To share some insight on our toddler programs and what’s coming up soon, I spoke with Melissa Katzin, the High’s Manager of Family Programs.

Question: Can you describe the typical programming at Toddler Thursdays and Toddler Saturdays?

Answer: Toddler programs at the High are intended for caregivers and toddlers to explore and create together. We always have drop-in art making, where you can come by any time during the program (we know toddlers have their own schedules!) to make original artwork inspired by our collection. We often have story time in the galleries and other pop-up activities and performances — keep an eye out for a collaboration with the Alliance Theatre in the new year!

Q: What ages are welcome to take part in these activities?

A: These programs are best for children ages fifteen months through three years — we design all the activities based on this age range.

Q: What do toddlers learn and do during these programs, and how do these skills help them grow and develop?

A: Our toddler programs encourage togetherness and collaboration, especially between the child and caregiver. We hope that toddlers (and adults!) also get some social time with other families. Our art-making projects help develop fine motor skills, like cutting, gluing, and placing art materials. And of course, we want toddlers and their caregivers to learn more about art — everything from colors and shapes to art movements and abstraction!​

Q: What is the theme for December’s Toddler Thursday and Toddler Saturday programs, and what specific activities can caregivers expect?

A: December is all about celebrating winter! For Toddler Saturday, we will be creating drums to help us welcome the cold weather. Each week at Toddler Thursday during December, we will embrace winter as we make snowy landscapes, cold-weather animals, and other wintry creations.

Q: What else can caregivers do with toddlers while at the High or with the other Art Partners on the Woodruff Arts Center campus?

A: ​One of my favorite places at the High is the Greene Family Learning Gallery — visitors of all ages can explore and create in these two inclusive and multisensory rooms. The Alliance Theatre always has great performances specifically for this age group with their Theatre for the Very Young, such as their upcoming show All Smiles. Keep an eye out for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s next session of their Music for the Very Young workshops, but in the meantime, I recommend their great online videos. And stay tuned for more information about Toddler Takeover this spring, where the High joins the Alliance Theatre and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for a whole weekend of toddler programming!

Greene Family Learning Galleries. Courtesy of CatMax Photography.

Q: Do you have any tips for caregivers on how to have a smooth, successful visit to the Museum for Toddler Thursdays or Toddler Saturdays?

A: We know that visiting the Museum can be challenging, especially with toddlers in tow! We welcome strollers, even in the galleries, and you can leave and reenter the same day (which is great if you need to hop over to Refuge for coffee). Food and drink are allowed only on the Lobby Level of the Museum, but breastfeeding is permitted in any public location in the Museum, including all galleries. If caregivers prefer a private space for breastfeeding, there is a nursing room located in the Greene Family Education Center on the Lower Level of the Stent Family Wing, equipped with a lock to ensure privacy. If you have any questions or need to find anything (family restrooms, food, etc.), please ask a staff member or security officer — we’re always happy to help!

If you would like to participate in toddler activities at the High, we are hosting Toddler Saturday on December 3 from 10 a.m. through 1 p.m. and Toddler Thursday weekly from 10 a.m. through 3 p.m. And if you can’t make it to these programs, we recommend visiting the Art Activities collection on our blog for art projects you can do at home with family and friends.

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