By Melissa Mitchell The last place most kids want to be on a lazy summer day is in school. But 7-year-old Kelly Carter doesn't seem to mind. And neither, apparently, do dozens of other children whose parents enrolled them in the UI School of Art and Design's Art Enrichment Program this summer. "I want to be an artist when I grow up," said Carter, who added that her parents enrolled her in the course "because they thought I was a good drawer." Budding young artists of all ages - and all stages of artistic development - are encouraged to explore their creative potential and pick up skills through participation in the program. The classes are taught by graduate students in art education and are staggered throughout the summer, with sections offered at all levels - from preschool to high school. The younger children attend two four-day sessions that allow them to experiment with a variety of artistic media; those sessions end this week. Students in grade seven through 12 participate in an intensive, four-day ceramics workshop, which starts July 24. An adult-level, intensive workshop on basic printmaking and design will be offered July 31 to Aug. 3. Creative art classes for children and adults also are offered on Saturday mornings during the fall and spring semesters. During holiday and spring festivals at the Krannert Art Museum, participants often get the chance to exhibit their work in the display area that links the museum and the Art and Design Building. Art education professor Sandy Bales coordinates the summer and Saturday programs, and art education professor Tina Thompson is in charge of the early childhood sections during the academic year. "The art classes for children started over 30 years ago and became part of the early field experience for undergraduates in art education," Bales said. In the current structure, graduate and undergraduate students in art education receive valuable teaching experience, while the classes function as a lab for the undergraduates in elementary education who frequently visit the classroom as observers. "The classes serve as a way to give them the best possible teaching experience," Thompson said. "It gives them a vision that lasts of what teaching can be." Classes geared toward younger children focus not only on introducing them to a variety of media and techniques, but also integrate music, drama, story-telling and other creative activities. Teachers also draw on a range of campus resources in their instruction - from the Krannert Art Museum to the sheep farm, which has arranged sheep-shearing demonstrations for classes studying fiber art. As a rule, rather than focusing on the development of skills in any one medium, "the early childhood classes are more thematic," Thompson said. "Usually, the teacher will start with an art concept - say, animals - as a theme, and uses that to explore creative ideas." Before creating sculptures from wood and beads, the first- and second-graders in Kathy Hughes' class this summer learned about sculpture and sculptors through inventive exercises. At the beginning of class, the children gathered around a "time machine" - a wooden box the teacher pulled from a Dumpster, decorated with objects the kids brought from home - while Hughes set the dial and played a tape of appropriately spacey synthesizer music. The machine initially took them back to the last century to meet sculptor Lorado Taft. Hughes then led the children on an expedition across campus to view Taft's Alma Mater statue. The next day, the time machine was set to the 1950s for a visit by sculptor Alexander Calder. Later, while the students labored over their own sculptures, Hughes piped in '50s music - "from around the time your parents were born," she told them - to add to the theme and keep the kids' creative juices flowing. "Some of our kids are just astounding," Bales said. In those cases, "if we see something unusual, we try to point it out, since parents might not have anything to compare it to," she said. Talented or not, children usually leave the program enriched in one way or another. "Once," Bales said, "a professor in the law school across the street wandered over here and said, 'I see so many joyful children coming out of this building. It made me wonder what you're doing in here.' " Some openings remain in the grades seven through 12 and adult classes. Registration begins mid-August for the fall session, which runs Sept. 9 through Dec. 3. To register, or for more information, call 333-1652 or 333-0855.