ARTS/West and the Athens Community Center are hosting regular Crafternoon classes to give children an opportunity to learn new ways to craft.

Crafternoon for Kids is held in person at the Athens Community Center on Mondays and ARTS/West on Wednesdays, both from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. It started Jan. 11 and will continue weekly until March 3. 

On Monday, Jan. 25, students celebrated winter and the snows that come with it by creating fiber art snow yetis. Students created the abominable-snowmen out of a sock, wool roving and felt fabric and were offered separate embellishments to let their personalities shine through their crafts. 

Although the classes are held in person, there are video links available for children and their families to learn and create virtually from the safety of their homes. Virtual students receive craft bags of materials and are guided with step-by-step instructions through the video. 

Crafternoon is a brand new program, happening for the first time in 2021. Some people have asked Emily Beveridge, instructor and arts program specialist for the city of Athens, if it is a franchised program, but it is something she came up with on her own. She created the term Crafternoon and felt the title would make it memorable.

“This is the third week,” Beveridge said. “We do three sections of it each week. We have a section at Athens Community Center, a section at ARTS/West and a virtual section. It’s a different craft each week. The first week they made ceramic bowls and the second week they made turtles out of popsicle sticks and yarn.”

Beveridge has been teaching art classes to students aged kindergarten to college for the past ten years. She said monster projects are engaging for younger children especially. During the fourth week of classes, students will be making their own take on the mothman.

Due to COVID-19, Beveridge places all the materials out at each table for the students. She said it is important for the children to stay in one place rather than run around close to each other with social distancing guidelines. 

Beveridge said the students have been well behaved in classes thus far. As far as classroom management, she has not had one issue since starting Crafternoon classes.

“They have been cooped up for so long that this class is a treat for them,” Beveridge said.

Beveridge started Monday’s class by asking the students if they have ever seen or touched the materials laid out in front of them. When some replied with their experiences with it, she began telling engaging stories that brought out excitement in the children. Although each student had a mask on, the joy shined through their eyes.

Students began their snow yetis by filling socks up with wool. Then they wrapped two rubber bands around the socks to create the shape of the yeti’s body and head. Beveridge’s enthusiastic tone while instructing kept students engaged as they listened closely to each step of building their crafts.

Next, Beveridge instructed students to cut off the top of the socks. Students then used jewels and felt fabric to create the faces of the creatures. After students gave their yetis their own personality, Beveridge used a hot glue gun to attach the facial features and fuzzy hair for each of the students’ projects.

Beveridge lit up in excitement as she saw the unique ideas the children came up with for their snow creatures.

“Guys, this is the first time I have done this project, and it’s just so cute,” Beveridge told the students. “This is wonderful.”

Parents of the students said they appreciate the creativity their children are learning from Beveridge during a time of little social interaction for them.

“I'm just really thankful that they’re having this, because it’s been hard for kids during COVID, and this gives them an artistic outlet during this time,” Alex Bovia, a parent of a student, said.

Kimberlee Francis found the crafting classes through Facebook. Her daughter, Susan, has gone to Crafternoon every week since it began.

“She went to the first session and she said, ‘This is the best thing ever,’” Francis said. “Even when she didn't have school last Monday, she still went to craft class.”