When local schools closed back in March, many parents had to get creative to keep kids engaged when staying home was the only option. For Rachel Miller, this her moment to shine. Last summer, Miller began putting together sensory art kits in her backyard, as a way for her kids and their friends to create art and engage in sensory play together.
As an early childhood educator, Miller knew the importance of open ended sensory play and art to young children, and realized that many parents may be hitting creative blocks of their own after months of isolation. The idea of Backyartists was born, but Miller was nervous to start such an endeavor on her own. Miller’s friend, Nicole Werther, who had also been her co-teacher, quickly joined her. They launched Backyartists together last month.
Neither Werther nor Miller were surprised to see how well they worked together, as they had once shared a classroom and have remained friends ever since. It wasn’t even the first time the families had joined entrepreneurial forces. Their husbands attempted to start a sausage making business together, but it never got off the ground, which is funny because they were going to call it Dirigible Sausages.
Miller and Werther are both taking time out of the classroom this year, and their new endeavor keeps them connected to their love of teaching. Both feel that the best part of Backyartists is using their creative skills to curate all the projects and being able to share these projects with local families.
Projects are geared towards children ages 3-6 and come in small, medium and large sizes. Small kits will entertain 1-2 children, medium 3-4 children, and large 5-6 children. With a small kit, you can set up one or multiple projects at a time. Medium and large kits are designed to be collaborative and set up as stations, so that children will rotate and move between stations.
So far Backyartists has been met with excitement and great feedback from families. “One caregiver told us that she feels like a better parent,’ Werther reports, “and when she sees one of our bins in her house she can breathe a sigh of relief.” For this family, the Backyartists box is a great substitute for the Reggio preschool they had wanted their daughter to attend before Covid-19 made this impossible.
Perhaps the best part, for those of us in small homes, is that the supplies for each project are delivered to your door and -most important- leftover reusable materials, supplies, and the transport bins are picked up at the end of the week. Reusable supplies are sanitized, and all delivery and pickup visits are contactless. Deliveries are made to Cambridge, Somerville, Arlington, and Winchester on Sunday evenings, and the leftovers are retrieved by Friday at noon.
If you’d like to explore some sensory art activities with the kids in your life, you can find them at https://www.backyartists.com/