Chess is awesome. Coding and karate rock. But if you’re in search of some open-ended, creative play for your kid to balance things out, consider the newly-launched From Wonder, where kids explore, experiment and create things truly wow-worthy while learning. Read on to get the scoop.

photo: From Wonder

Whoa That’s Cool
That’s what we said when we saw some of the photos of final projects From Wonder has produced.

Early childhood educator Nicole Nelson is the founder of From Wonder, and she describes its offerings, which include camps, after-school programs, workshops and even birthday parties as creative, immersive, themed classes for children.

Nelson brings her 13 years of experience working with young children at a Manhattan private school to the venture, and is excited to bring her student-led, curiosity-based creative project approach to learning and play to kids citywide.

Currently enrolling for mixed age summer sessions for kids ages four to six, From Wonder will expand its offerings to serve both kids older and younger in the near future.

photo: From Wonder

What Happens at From Wonder
Each From Wonder class revolves around a theme; past themes have included under the sea, to adventures in outer space to food. Over a six-week period, participants explore the theme through multi-sensory projects, mixed media inventions, costuming, songs and storytelling, open play and more.

The classes work to foster skill development (pre-literacy, socialization and language, fine and gross motor) encourage creative expression and curiosity, and emphasize process over product. Additionally, flexibility and experimentation are encouraged and “mistakes” are viewed as opportunities.

Kids work on both individual projects (their unique take on a space suit or superhero identity) as well as group ones, such as an environment where their creations come to life.

photo: From Wonder

Reduce, Reuse, Reimagine
From Wonder is big on DIY crafting, but things go beyond popsicle sticks and paper towel rolls. Kids plan, design and create impressive costumes from scratch, make 3D constructions and large-scale theatrical backdrops, all relating back to the theme. (Nelson herself has a passion for recycled, theatrical, crafting, as evidenced by her mind-blowing side project, Cloak and Blender, dedicated to marrying elaborate costumes and smoothies. Seriously: just check it out.)

Beyond fabrication with common household materials and textiles, kids also delve into the science of a given theme, integrate writing and storytelling in journals or passports, and even explore a given topic through creative movement.

photo: From Wonder

Connected to the Community
Classes culminate in some sort of final presentation or gathering for enrolled families. Past events have included a gallery show with both visual art and listening stations, photo shoots, pot lucks, etc. All students receive a portfolio of their collected work at the conclusion of the class as well.

Nelson sees community as a major part of the From Wonder experience, and plans on developing themes based on community interest and input. Additionally, she’s excited to collaborate with area makers, artists and subject experts and involve them in From Wonder curriculum.

Have Wonder, Will Travel & The Nitty Gritty
From Wonder will offer summer sessions and after school classes at the 18th Street and Sixth Avenue location of Giocare in Park Slope, but Nelson is also happy to travel to Manhattan and other boroughs, for families wishing to host a weekly From Wonder class or  one-off workshop or event.

Sessions this summer are “Everyday Heroes” (July 10 – August 14, Mondays, 1 – 3pm) and Adventures in Space! (July 12 – August 16, Wednesdays, 3 – 5 pm.) Classes are small, with 8 to 10 children, and cost $525 for six weeks, with all materials included.

Online: fromwonder.com

How do you bring wonder to your child’s life? Tell us in the comments!

— Mimi O’Connor