Hosted by The Yass Bookstore, local artist Akka Ballenger is offering a two-part ninety-minute per session workshop, “Attractive Animals”, incorporating art as a vehicle and learning techniques to master STEM subjects science, tech, engineering, and mathematics. The first workshop will commence on the 8th of May from 4 pm to 5:30 pm with another session following on the 15th of May aimed at children ages preschool to year six, however, other school-aged children who are interested are welcome. The focus of the workshop will be using physical art pieces such as painting, drawing, and craft to learn about magnets, hence the ‘Attractive’; to attract magnetically.

Local Artist Invites Children to Attractive Animals STEAM Workshop

It is inspired by Julia Donaldson’s book “Animalphabet.” Akka Ballenger will utilise her previous experience and knowledge in the use of art. As Akka describes.

“As far as kids are concerned, they are making art, they all love making art, and what they don’t realise is how much they learn.”

“It’s always the visual that attracts kids,” she adds.

As an Art Educator of five years, Akka is well aware of the benefits art and visual learning have on children’s cognition and the growing trend of utilising art in educational spaces.

Having previously worked with children requiring assistance, such as those who are neurodivergent or have a disability, Akka noted how time and time again the children found freedom in using hands-on activities and creative play.

“They all choose art and keep coming back to art because they can be comfortable as themselves.”

But also too, a deeper understanding of maths and science.

“And I’d realise, I don’t think they’d know how much maths they were using in art–  you’re using perspective, scale, shape, volumes, etcetera– and when I’d explain it to them they’d say they didn’t realise they were good at maths and it changes their approach to work.”

As well as experience in Art Education, Akka has provided these workshops before, with much success. Akka spoke of how last year, a partnership was established between herself and the Yass Bookstore, where the regular presence of young, creative-oriented children interested in reading and the arts provided the idea to create these workshops.

“The Yass bookstore is anything but just a bookstore. To me, it’s a community hub. There are so many beautiful things that happen there”.

Recent workshops include one based around a bee’s life cycle, with modelling and sculpting using cardboard for honeycombs and clay. The parents reported that the kids went home and spoke at length about how much they’d learned from just doing art.

“If you go and say to them this is going to be a lesson about bees, they’ll think it’s boring, why do I have to do this?” said Akka.

“But while they’re working on art, you can throw facts in there, have them do it, show them, get them chatting,” she continued. “They learn, they are like sponges, they absorb every little bit of information.”

Akka aims to have the workshop be a recurring event, to continue to provide opportunities to the community.

“Help is there when you need it. We have such an amazing community here, and there are so many creative kids out there,” she explained.

Griffin Palen