10 Best Toys for Early Childhood Development this Holiday Season

With the holidays quickly approaching, we know you’re being inundated with commercials featuring the latest toys from Lego, Disney and Hot Wheels. Before you finalize your list, we wanted to share our gift guide that includes toys that are educational and help your child or grandchild developmentally. 

We believe in the power of play, and toys that made our list will help your little one learn along the way.

From babies to toddlers to school-aged kids, here are our favorite options this season.

Best for Babies and Kids 0-5

First Bead Maze from Melissa & Doug

We’re kicking off our list with an oldie, but goodie. If you’ve been to any of our locations, then you know we carry Melissa & Doug products. We love the mission of their company and the quality of their toys. Not to mention their toys are designed for development. This is their First Bead Maze and it’s suitable for babies 12 months and up. It features brightly colored, multi-shaped beads that spin and slide along red and yellow wire pathways anchored by a strong suction cup base. It encourages color recognition, hand-eye coordination, and fine motor development through play!

Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Piggy Bank from Fisher Price

The Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Piggy Bank from Fisher Price is great for both babies and toddlers. This toy plays more than 40 songs, tunes and phrases to engage your child. This toy assists with fine motor coordination skills while putting the coins into the bank. As children get older, they can use it to count and add as well.

Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog from Learning Resources

Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog helps kids build fine motor skills as they restore the chunky, peg-shaped quills to the back of this friendly hedgehog as well as develop color recognition, sorting, and counting skills. It includes a hedgehog, 12 pegs and activity guide with fine motor, counting, and color activities. You can purchase it directly from them, or buy it here at Target for less.

The Symphony Croc Music Set from Haba

The Symphony Croc is perfect for families with two kids under 5 because it contains two mallets and the drum can be easily removed from the crocodile base for playtime duets.

This playful reptile fosters children’s musical development and encourages a sense of rhythm while honing fine motor skills. 

Magformers Mastermind Building Set 

Containing a wide variety of new magnetic shapes, Magformers let kids explore magnetic construction through modular creative play. This set contains 13 Basic shapes, combine these with accessories to build Vehicles, Houses and more! Perfect for STEM learning, each geometric shape contains magnets that never reject, so you’ll always hear Magformers click. This is suitable for kids three and up. We spotted it here at Target.

Little Genius Starter Kit by Osmo

This kit from Osmo splits the difference between screen time and a learning toy, since kids use hand-held pieces in conjunction with an iPad. They can use the kit to learn how to form letters, make shapes that move on the screen, and mix and match outfits for different characters. This is ideal for kids 3 and up. It’s available on Amazon here.

Crayola Color Chemistry Set

The Crayola Color Chemistry set comes with 18 science experiments that kids can do right out of the box, and then there are ideas for 32 more experiments you can do with the set and some additional, common household items. There are two sets: a basic chemistry set and a winter-themed one.

Forest Friends Discovery Tree from Fat Brain

This Discovery Tree from Fat Brain is a whole ecosystem full of sensory exploration excitement! All around and throughout this entire treetop play structure are all kinds of fascinating things and activities just waiting for your little one’s little hands to discover. Kids can spin and slide the snail, butterfly, and ladybug blocks all along the winding cutout tracks. Just on the other side, those same blocks are apples, tumbling down the branches!

Milestone Play Kits by Lovevery

Starting at only $36 a month, Lovevery offers play kits by development milestones. This is a perfect option for Grandparents or relatives who may not know what to buy that the store. You can send one by yourself, or as a family or group through their website here.

Mindware Imagination Magnets

Your little one will discover hours of entertainment with the MindWare Imagination Patterns. This fun and colorful puzzle is a great way for children to boost their fine motor and visual thinking skills. This is available at buy buy Baby, and it is suitable for kid 4 and up.

Honorable Mention

TubeLox is a life-sized STEM construction toy for all ages that allows kids to use their creativity while designing and building their own play. With this toy, fabricate anything from sizeable sturdy structures, to usable cars, homes and rocket ships. According to NAEYC, things for pretending and building—many blocks for building complex structures, transportation toys and construction sets are ideal for kids 3-6.

The only reason it didn’t make our list, is because it was so popular that they’ve already sold out for Christmas. If you don’t mind waiting until January, head over to their site to order yours.

50 Random Acts of Kindness to try on World Kindness Day

World Kindness Day is a global day that promotes the importance of being kind to each other, to yourself, and to the world. The purpose of World Kindness Day is to help everyone understand that compassion for others is what binds us all together.

Today we encourage you to allow your child to participate in the random acts of kindness campaign by doing something nice for someone.

Here are 50 random acts of kindness activities to get your family started.

  1. Send a card to an old friend.
  2. Hold the door open for someone.
  3. Share a toy or item they wouldn’t normally share with a sibling or friend.
  4. Donate to a cause anonymously.
  5. Return someone’s cart at the store.
  6. Send your teacher card or small gift to show you care.
  7. Leave a letter in a library book.
  8. Feed the birds.
  9. Leave happy notes around town.
  10. Volunteer your time.
  11. Call your grandparents and ask them about their childhood.
  12. Create activity bags for families of deployed soldiers.
  13. Let someone go ahead of you in line.
  14. Compliment a friend.
  15. Wash someone’s car.
  16. Write a thank you note for your mail carrier.
  17. Plant something.
  18. Bake dessert for a neighbor
  19. Walk dogs at the animal shelter.
  20. Check in on an elderly neighbor.
  21. Set up a cookies & cocoa station at your local community center and donate the profits.
  22. Send a card to a service member.
  23. Bury treasure at the playground.
  24. Set the table for dinner.
  25. Leave a small gift on someone’s doorstep.
  26. Smile at everybody. It’s contagious.
  27. Tell someone why they are special to you.
  28. Donate outgrown clothes.
  29. Buy a coffee for a stranger.
  30. Pass out stickers to kids waiting in line.
  31. Talk to someone new at school.
  32. Write chalk messages on the sidewalk.
  33. Shovel snow for a neighbor.
  34. Donate food to the food pantry.
  35. Bring flowers to your teacher.
  36. Tell a manager how good your service was.
  37. Compliment a stranger.
  38. Donate socks and supplies to the homeless shelter.
  39. Forgive and apologize to anyone you might have hurt.
  40. Call a friend you haven’t seen in a while to say hello.
  41. Tape money for the ice cream truck to a friend’s front door.
  42. Take treats to the fire station.
  43. Read a book to someone.
  44. Leave heads up pennies on the sidewalk.
  45. Donate books to a doctor’s office waiting room.
  46. Tell someone how much you love them.
  47. Say hello to everyone you see.
  48. Make someone else’s bed.
  49. Hold the door open for someone.
  50. Wave at policemen and firefighters.

Remember, there’s no right way to celebrate World Kindness Day. You can have your kids focus on one idea today, or many over time. We know kindness can be life-changing for your children and the people they interact with, and we believe that by participating in acts of kindness as a family or group can encourage long term kindness habits for your child, and the world.

5 Ways To Teach Children About Gratitude

Experts Agree, Thankfulness and Gratitude Lead To Happier Lives

For parents, teaching “thanks” may start by telling your child to simply say thank you, but as they grow-up instilling the larger concept of gratitude requires a little more thought.

On one hand, we can be “thankful” for the things we receive and the people who surround us, gratitude on the other hand is the sum of our appreciation for those things individually. That’s where it gets tricky for parents. Because, although most of us have our own understanding of what gratitude means for us personally, teaching children the nuances of silver linings and appreciation is a completely different story. And that, unfortunately, is where a lot of parents give up too soon or avoid any attempt to instill these values early on.

And we completely understand your frustration, but experts say it’s necessary.

A 2019 study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that gratitude is linked to happiness in children by age 5. This means helping your kids understand the idea of being thankful at a young age could help them grow up to be happier people.

So how exactly do you do it? Here’s 5 methods to get you started.

Share your Gratitude Each Day.

Taking five minutes during breakfast and during the bedtime routine to ask your child what they are thankful for allows them to reorient their mind and thoughts to what matters the most at the beginning and end of each day.

Don’t Force Kids to “Get Over” Things Quickly.

It’s always difficult to see your little one upset or angry, but allowing them to experience the range of emotions that comes with life experiences makes it easier for you to help them identify silver linings as they get older. If they are upset, you can ask them what they are grateful for in that moment, but don’t force them to have an answer just to please you. Let them do it in their own time.

Help Someone Less Fortunate.

Taking your child to volunteer on holidays or at special community events will not only help the child to understand that people have different life experiences, but it will also help them to see the ways that they’ve been fortunate. This can be something small like asking them to set aside a couple of dollars to donate to a cause, or taking them to pass out food or gifts during a holiday drive.

Create a Thankful Time Capsule.

A time capsule can literally just be a box that contains letters your child writes themselves at the beginning of each month or each year about the things they are thankful for. Creating this ritual can be helpful for them to understand how much their life shifts from year to year, and it can help them track their perspective around life events.

Be A Model for the Behavior Your Want to See.

It all starts at home. If you want your child to understand how to be grateful, then you need to model behavior that guides them through what gratitude should look like in day-to-day life. Give your kids a glimpse of why gratitude is important to you by openly sharing the things you’re grateful for, and why.

November Book Recommendations

Tis’ the season for gratitude and thanks. 

At Gymboree Play & Music we believe in teaching kids to see the world from a point of appreciation because we know that even in tough times, learning to look for the silver lining is a skill set that should be learned from an early age.

This month we curated our book recommendations around the concepts of gratitude and thanks to help you and your child incorporate these values into your daily lives.

See our recommendations below. 

Recommendations for Children

I Love to Gobble You Up!

By Sandra Magsamen

Take a moment to show your baby how grateful you are to have them in your life with this delightful book! Your little turkey will love the sturdy cardboard pages and soft felt feathers, and of course being “gobbled up” by your Thanksgiving cuddles!

1 2 3s of Thankfulness

By Patricia Hegarty & Summer Macon

From the same author as “ABCs of Kindness,” practice counting with your toddler as you teach them about the value of giving thanks and sharing gratitude. Together, we learn that “one little thank you can go a long, long way.”

Thank You, Mr. Panda!

By Steve Antony

Mr. Panda is so generous he is giving away gifts to all his animal friends. But his friends aren’t being particularly grateful. This heartwarming story helps teach little ones the importance of saying “thank you” and recognize it’s the thought behind the gift that counts the most. Toddlers will love Mr. Panda’s silly gifts and repeating the tag line, “It’s the thought that counts!”

Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks

By Margaret Sutherland & Sonja Lamut

What is Thanksgiving for? It’s a time for food and family, and also a time for giving thanks! There is so much to be thankful for, and this charming book will give your toddler or preschooler some ideas of what they can be thankful for too!

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

By Traci Sorell and Frané Lessac

“Otsaliheliga” is a Cherokee word used to express gratitude. Engage your preschooler in learning some Cherokee vocabulary as you read about the Cherokee traditions and celebrations that occur over the year. The book includes a glossary and the complete Cherokee syllabary to help you learn and pronounce the Cherokee words. See if you preschooler can repeat the words back to you as you learn together!

Zen Pig: The Art of Gratitude

By Mark Brown & Amy Lynn Larwig

Zen Pig teaches his friends about gratitude, compassion, and mindfulness in the first book of author Mark Brown’s “Zen Pig” series. It’s never too early to start learning the art of giving thanks! This book makes the concept of gratitude easier to understand for little ones. 

Recommendations for Parents

The Gratitude Diaries

by Janice Kaplan

In In this New York Times bestseller, Janice Kaplan spends a year living gratefully and transforms her marriage, family life, work and health. Her pioneering research was praised in People and Vanity Fair and hailed on TV shows including Today, The O’Reilly Factor, and CBS’s The Talk. On New Year’s Eve, journalist and former Parade Editor-in-Chief Janice Kaplan makes a promise to be grateful and look on the bright side of whatever happens. She realizes that how she feels over the next months will have less to do with the events that occur than her own attitude and perspective. Getting advice at every turn from psychologists, academics, doctors, and philosophers, she brings readers on a smart and witty journey to discover the value of appreciating what you have.

The Little Book of Gratitude

by  Dr. Robert Emmons

Gratitude is the simple, scientifically proven way to increase happiness and encourage greater joy, love, peace, and optimism into our lives.

Through easy practices such as keeping a daily gratitude journal, writing letters of thanks, and meditating on the good we have received, we can improve our health and wellbeing, enhance our relationships, encourage healthy sleep, and heighten feelings of connectedness.

Easily accessible and available to everyone, the practice of gratitude will benefit every area of your life and generate a positive ripple effect.

Thanks A Thousand

by A.J. Jacobs

Author A.J. Jacobs discovers that his coffee—and every other item in our lives—would not be possible without hundreds of people we usually take for granted.

By thanking these people face to face, Jacobs finds some much-needed brightness in his life. Gratitude does not come naturally to Jacobs—his disposition is more Larry David than Tom Hanks—but he sets off on the journey on a dare from his son. And by the end, it’s clear to him that scientific research on gratitude is true. Gratitude’s benefits are legion: It improves compassion, heals your body, and helps battle depression.

Living Life As A Thank You

by Nina Lesowitz  (Author), Mary Beth Sammons  (Author), Lee Woodruff (Foreword) 

Whatever is given — even a difficult and challenging moment — is a gift. Living as if each day is a thank-you can help transform fear into courage, anger into forgiveness, isolation into belonging, and another’s pain into healing. Saying thank-you every day inspires feelings of love, compassion, and hope. These ideas are the basis for this timely book. Authors Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons present a simple, but comprehensive program for incorporating gratitude into one’s life, and reaping the many benefits that come from doing so.

Gratitude

by Oliver Sacks 

During the last few months of his life, he wrote a set of essays in which he movingly explored his feelings about completing a life and coming to terms with his own death.

“It is the fate of every human being,” Sacks writes, “to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.”

Together, these four essays form an ode to the uniqueness of each human being and to gratitude for the gift of life.

The Best 5 Halloween Costumes for Pregnant Moms

Photo Credit Mike Garten

Kids costumes, check! Halloween candy, check! Healthy snacks for trick or treating, check! Costume for yourself?

Uh oh…still stumped?

We know it’s hard to come up with a costume that makes you feel your best while you’re braving morning sickness and cravings. So we created this list of 5 costumes to give you some creative ideas to consider if you’re still at a loss for what to wear this weekend.

Over the Moon for You!

This costume features your growing baby bump front and center against the backdrop of the galaxy. Bonus point if you can find an astronaut to walk alongside you.

This costume was spotted on Instagram via Babylist.

Something to Taco-Bout

Avocados and hot sauce are the perfect pairing for tasty tacos. This is a simple idea, and easy to recreate. More details below.

We spotted this costume idea over at TheBump.com.

All Hail the Mother of Pearl

This costume wins based on sheer creativity. Who would have known that a baby bump would also make the perfect pearl.

We spotted this cute costume on Parents magazine.

Image credit: Holly N.M. of Jacksonville Beach, Florida

It Happens Every Time…

Halloween + Willy Wonka = one really sweet idea. In an homage to Gene Wilder, this family dressed up like different characters from Willy Wonka.

We spotted this costume on Today.com.

Image Credit:

Ready to Pop as Princess Poppy

Believe it or not, that’s actually Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake hiding under these fabulous costumes inspired by Trolls. This cute option gives you the ability to completely conceal your bump if you want, and the loose fit will make it very easy it climb out of at the end of the night.

We spotted this costume over at People.

10 Halloween Crafts to Try at Home

There is something about October that gives us extra permission to get exceptionally gooey, ooey, sticky, crafty, and glittery.

That said, we saw no problem with gathering some of the messiest, most colorful and awe-inspiring holiday crafts for your to try at home. As a disclaimer, some of these are more suited for parents to do alone and to use to decorate their homes instead, but others can done with children under a high level of supervision.

See which crafts topped our list below.

Cardboard Haunted House

This cute cardboard house is a take on what would be a traditional haunted house, except it’s toned down, there’s not a spook or a goblin in sight, and your children can use it through out the month of October for pre-tend play, or for creating stories should they have some small figurines laying around the house. This project might take a few hours, so we recommend calling a friend over to help you cut, glue and piece it together.

Although this was originally featured on the Parents website, we spotted it over at Project Kid. Check it out here.

Image Credit: Project Kid & Parents

Tissue Box Monsters

These cute tissue box monsters are a great way to repurpose old tissue boxes! Kids will love designing their own monster. And we love that every box can be unique! If you don’t have tissue boxes you can also do this with shoe boxes, you’ll just need to adapt the tutorial to cut out the mouth.

This craft was spotted at TheBestIdeasforKids.com.

Image Credit: TheBestIdeasForKids.Com

Black Cat Candy Dish

Black cats may be unlucky around Halloween, but what about a cat dish? This DIY black cat candy bowl, is exceptionally cute, and can be used as decor around your home, at your office, or even for a small Halloween party.

We spotted this cute cat here.

Image credit: Project Kid.

Halloween Party Poppers

Aren’t they sweet? Like – literally, like cute on the outside, but filled with small candies and chocolate on the inside. All you’ll need is empty toilet paper rolls, tissue, colorful pipe cleaners, some decorations for the faces and candy of course. You can stuff them with sweets and pop them open on Halloween.

This was spotted online at Onion Rings and Things.

Colorful Monster Headbands

The best thing about this craft is that kids can let their imagination go wild with different materials, papers, strings and ribbon. You can even add eyes or scrap book materials to bring your monster to life. This project can be done all month, and children will love it each time. If you intend to use really small scraps for this, we encourage you to keep a watchful eye on kiddos under 5 while they create this.

Get the tutorial at Fantastic Fun and Learning.

Walnut Pumpkin Craft

We know what you’re thinking, and yes, those are small faces painted onto walnuts. And they are oh-so adorable!

We spotted this on Instagram, from crafty mom influencer Amanda Kingloff.

The tutorial appears here on here website.

Image Credit: Instagram and Project Kid.

Paper Bag Monster Puppets

Fill your house with monsters — the good kind, obviously — this Halloween by making these colorful creatures out of paper bags and cut-outs.

We spotted this tutorial on Good Housekeeping, but the original tutorial is here on the IHeartCraftyThings website.

Drip Painted Pumpkins

Drip painted pumpkins are an oldie but goodie, and we love it because no matter how old it gets, it’s also a great way to use all of those broken crayons that have been accumulating around your home all year. For this project you’ll need crayons, pumpkins, and a hair dryer, or an appliance that has a low setting for heat. This project is not recommended for small kids or youth, but may be more appropriate for a skilled teen (with supervision) or an adult.

This particular photo and tutorial was spotted at momdot.com. Check it out here.

Halloween Spooky Eyeball Slime

Kids love slime. They love to make it, feel it, and play with it year-round. But if there was an “appropriate” time to let them create this sticky solution, Halloween would be it.

This eyeball slime is Borax free, and is fairly easy to do.

Checkout the slime recipe from Good Housekeeping here.

Image credit: Good Housekeeping

Haunted Halloween Cookie House

What if we told you, that you could create a gingerbread house, but with a spooky twist? This two-story monster mansion is decorated with everything from candy corn to Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. With it’s cocoa cookie walls and frosting details, this haunted house frightfully delicious.

Check out this sweet treat over at Woman’s Day here.

Image credit: Emily Kate Roemer

10 Kid-Friendly Halloween Movies We’re Streaming this Fall

Between the prep work for Halloween treats, Halloween crafts and pumpkin decorating, you’ll have a lot to do (and supervise) in the coming weeks.

But if all the hubbub of the fall festivities leaves you and your little ones stressed, we suggest a good old fashioned holiday movie to pass the time.

We scoured the internet and came up with a list of 10 parent-approved Halloween movies for kids 7 and under.

See which movie titles made our list below.

Super Monsters Save Halloween

Preschool kids whose parents are the world’s most famous monsters try to master their special powers while preparing for kindergarten. Kids will love seeing the Super Monsters in action as they help spread the Halloween spirit around their neighborhood. And with a 24 minute runtime, this “movie” perfect to stream right before bedtime.

View this title on Netflix here.

Image Credit: IMDB

Dear Dracula

Dear Dracula is a family-friendly movie based on a graphic novel of the same name. It centers on a friendship between a shy boy and kindly Count Dracula, who fears he’s lost his touch when it comes to being scary and needs someone to remind him how it’s done.

Watch this title on Netflix here.

Image Credit: IMDB

Monster Family

Despite the title, the Wishbone family are far from happy. In an attempt to reconnect as a family, Mum and Emma plan a fun night out. However, her plan backfires when an evil witch curses them, and they’re all turned into Monsters.

Watch this popular film on Amazon Prime here.

Image Credit: IMDB

Spooky Stories 2

The Shrek characters parody the music video “Thriller“; B.O.B. and pals battle zombie carrots; and Megamind faces the effects of the Button of Doom.

Watch this film on Netflix here.

Image Credit: IMDB

Room on the Broom

A gentle witch with a ginger braid offers rides to a variety of animals on her increasingly crowded broom, much to her grumpy cat’s chagrin.

Stream this movie here on Netflix.

Image Credit: IMDB

True Tricky True Day

It’s up to True and her friends to save the day when a hungry Yeti sneaks a forbidden treat and fills the kingdom with Howling Greenies.

Watch this title on Netflix here.

Image Credit: IMDB

Ghost Patrol

Gabi and Spence, and the Spooky Dog, are the “Ghost Patrol“, Their Towns supernatural pest control, but they have never seen a real ghost. When they get a call to investigate the old Geist Manor, they are about to find the proof they are looking for – and a whole lot more.

Stream this title on Netflix here.

Image Credit: IMDB

Curious George A Halloween Boo Fest

Get ready for a spook-tacular good time with Curious George – in his first-ever Halloween movie. This fun-filled adventure is a bewitching treat for the whole family!

Stream this title on Hulu by clicking here. Or on Amazon here.

Image Credit: Amazon

Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie

It’s Lumpy‘s first Halloween with Winnie the PoohRoo, and their friends in the Hundred Acre Wood. The group discusses their plans for Halloween and for their first night of trick-or-treating. Until Tigger, warns his friends about the dreaded Gobloon that he spotted in the woods earlier, a monster that comes out every Halloween to search for somebody to catch and will turn them into “jaggedy lanterns” , but only if he catches them. Watch the movie to see how it ends.

Learn more about this movie and stream the title here.

Image Credit: Amazon

It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

The classic film It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown follows Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, and the rest of the crew as they get ready for Halloween. As Lucy and her friends prepare their costumes for Violet’s Halloween party, Linus and Sally camp out in the pumpkin patch awaiting a visit from The Great Pumpkin.

Click here to see how to stream this title.

Image Credit: Amazon

Spooky Treats Toddlers & Children will Love

With Halloween right around the corner, and seasonal festivities picking up steam across the country, the pressure is on to plan a perfect (and mostly healthy) holiday bash your kiddos will love. We searched the internet high and low for the trendiest fall snacks of 2020 and we created a list of our top 5.

See who made the list below, and check out the recipes on their blogs by clicking through the hyperlink in each description.

Bon Appétit!

Mesmerizing Mango Halloween Platter

Aside from the noteworthy visual appeal of this platter, it actually packs a lot of Vitamins A & C. So whether you or your kid picks up the bat tortilla chips with mango salsa, or the apple monsters with mango, you’re sure to enjoy the sweet zing of the mangos that have been strategically incorporated throughout this platter. We spotted this on Foxes Love Lemons. Go check it out.

MONSTER RICE KRISPIES TREATS

We would be remiss if we crafted this list and left off good old fashioned rice crispy treats. And since these ones have a fun twist, we couldn’t leave them off our list. We spotted these over at Chelsea’s Messy Apron. She did a blog on different 3 ingredient Halloween treats and we loved this one the most. Head over to her blog to see this, and other recipes.

Whole Food Healthy Halloween Platter

We spotted this tray of treats over at Fork & Beans. We added this to the list because it gives parents more options. Obviously you can go candy crazy on Halloween (and no one would blame you), but liked this because they built a pretty platter with easy Halloween snack ideas that you can actually feel good about feeding to your family.

Harvest Chex Mix

This Harvest mix is the ultimate fall treat! Not only is it easy to make, but your little one can easily keep it in a cup in their stroller, or you can store it in a galloon zip lock bag while you’re out and about. This should take you no more than 15 minutes to make. We spotted this recipe over at the Made to be a Momma blog.

HALLOWEEN CHOCOLATE COVERED PRETZELS

We spotted these delectable treats over at Garnish and Glaze. Chocolate Covered Pretzels are a longstanding holiday snack, but their creative spin on this ghoulish snack makes them irresistible to look at, and even harder to deny. Their recipe requires 17 ingredients that you can use to create bats, mummies, pumpkins, monsters, or all!

Conquering Fears Through Mindfulness with Zen Pig author Mark Brown

Episode Information

In this week’s episode of the Parent Pod Podcast, we spoke to Dad and Creator of the best-selling children’s book series “Zen Pig,” Mark Brown about mindfulness, compassion, gratitude, and much more.

Mark Brown is writer and speaker passionately helping others awaken to a life of purpose, presence and intention. Born in Hampton Roads, VA over 30 years ago Mark Brown now resides in booming Nashville, TN with his wife Amy and son Noble.

Learn more about the book series at https://www.facebook.com/ZenPigBook/

About

The Parent Pod podcast by Gymboree Play & Music is a weekly conversation that features various experts who are willing to share helpful tips for parents and grandparents on how to support their little ones during the first five years of life. Our podcast drives conversations around early childhood development and parenting strategies, with topics ranging from sleep training, and minimalist living to maternal mental health and postpartum depression.

October Book Recommendations

Whether it’s standing up to the monsters under the bed, or learning how to be stronger today than we were the day before, both parents and children have to learn how to overcome their biggest fears. In a month that is known for spooky celebrations and ghost stories galore, we’ve decided to focus on overcoming our fears, and learning how to live more bravely and courageously. 

Our recommendation list features a few seasonal favorites for children, as well as some tried and true titles for parents. And as a special treat, we’ve invited authors Mark Brown and Amy Morin to join us on The Parent Pod this month, so be sure to look for our updates for the podcast release dates.

Recommendations for Children

Zen Pig : Feelings are Clouds

By Mark Brown and Anastasia Khmelevska

In the 6th book from Mark Brown’s “Zen Pig” series, Zen Pig helps his niece understand, accept and welcome her feelings. This story is the perfect tool to help teach your older toddler or preschooler how to manage overwhelming emotions or feelings of uncertainty.

Eek Halloween!

By Sandra Boynton

Uh-oh – the chickens are nervous! Strange things are happening! Babies and toddlers love Sandra Boynton board books, and they’ll love discovering what’s gotten these chickens so riled up! Relax, silly chickens – it’s only Halloween!

Go Away, Big Green Monster

By Ed Emberley

Babies, toddlers and even older children will get a kick out of this cleverly illustrated book. With each turn of the page, we see another feature added to the Big Green Monster. But once we’re ready to show this monster who’s boss, we can turn the pages to make him disappear! Toddlers and older children will love helping you turn the pages to face their fears, while babies will love the colorful visual experience.

Boo Bunny

By Kathryn O Galbraith

Your toddler will love the rhythmic rhyming text in this adorable Halloween-themes book. Halloween night can be spooky… especially for a timid little bunny! But when one bunny meets another, they join together to face their fears and celebrate the best Halloween ever!

The Dark

By Lemony Snicket & Jon Klassen

Like many preschoolers, Lazlo is afraid of the dark. The dark usually spends most of its time in the basement, where Lazlo visits it once in a while. But one night, the dark makes its way to Lazlo’s room. After spending some time with the dark, Lazlo discovers it may not be so bad after all.  Help your preschooler feel more comfortable in the dark with this  poetic and empowering story.

Recommendations for Parents

13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do

by Amy Morin

As a foster parent, psychotherapist, and expert in family and teen therapy, Amy has witnessed first-hand what works. When children have the skills they need to deal with challenges in their everyday lives, they can flourish socially, emotionally, behaviorally, and academically. With appropriate support, encouragement, and guidance from adults, kids grow stronger and become better. Drawing on her experiences and insight, 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do combines case studies, practical tips, specific strategies, and concrete and proven exercises to help children of all ages—from preschoolers to teenagers—build mental muscle and develop into healthy, strong adults.

The Conscious Parent

by Dr. Shefali Tsabary

Instead of being merely the receiver of the parents’ psychological and spiritual legacy, children function as ushers of the parents’ development. Parents unwittingly pass on an inheritance of psychological pain and emotional shallowness. To handle the behavior that results, traditional books on parenting abound with clever techniques for control and quick fixes for dysfunction. In Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s conscious approach to parenting, however, children serve as mirrors of their parents’ forgotten self. Those willing to look in the mirror have an opportunity to establish a relationship with their own inner state of wholeness.

Raising Good Humans

by Hunter Clarke-Fields MSAE and Carla Naumburg PhD

With this book, you’ll find powerful mindfulness skills for calming your own stress response when difficult emotions arise. You’ll also discover strategies for cultivating respectful communication, effective conflict resolution, and reflective listening. In the process, you’ll learn to examine your own unhelpful patterns and ingrained reactions that reflect the generational habits shaped by your parents, so you can break the cycle and respond to your children in more skillful ways.

The 5 Love Languages of Children

by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell 

Discover how to speak your child’s love language in a way that he or she understands. Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Ross Campbell help you:

  • Discover your child’s love language
  • Assist your child in successful learning
  • Use the love languages to correct and discipline more effectively
  • Build a foundation of unconditional love for your child

Discover your child’s primary language—then speak it—and you will be well on your way to a stronger relationship with your flourishing child.

The Self-Driven Child

by William Stixrud PhD and Ned Johnson 

The Self-Driven Child offers a combination of cutting-edge brain science, the latest discoveries in behavioral therapy, and case studies drawn from the thousands of kids and teens Bill and Ned have helped over the years to teach you how to set your child on the real road to success. As parents, we can only drive our kids so far. At some point, they will have to take the wheel and map out their own path. But there is a lot you can do before then to help them tackle the road ahead with resilience and imagination.