The winter traditionally brings snow, hot cocoa and warm sweaters. But this year, it also bought a ton of titles that are pushing the limits to the ways children explore their environment and even learn to love themselves.
It was hard to pick just 5 books that would resonate with all of our families, but we did our best. See the books that made the list below.
There are so many ways to spend a chilly winter day. Join The Very Hungry Caterpillar and explore everything winter has to offer!
Welcome winter with The Very Hungry Caterpillar and his friends in this sensory exploration of the season. Discover the very best of this time of year: snowy days full of play, the sounds of birds chirping atop a snowman, the smell of cookies fresh from the oven, and so much more!
Hello, World! is a series designed to introduce first nonfiction concepts to babies and toddlers. Told in clear and easy terms (“Roots spread into the soil below, and then a shoot pushes up out of the earth”) and featuring bright, cheerful illustrations, Hello, World! makes learning fun for young children. And each sturdy page offers helpful prompts for engaging with your child. It’s a perfect way to bring science and nature into the busy world of a toddler, where learning never stops.
Celebrate all kinds of babies with this original board book by Emily Winfield Martin–perfect for baby showers and fans of the New York Times Bestseller, The Wonderful Things You Will Be!
From sweet baby to wild baby, from snuggly baby to grumpy baby, this book captures the adorableness of a diverse cast of babies in all their moods. With simple text and irresistible art, this book will capture the hearts of parents and the youngest readers alike.
This joyful and lyrical picture book from New York Times bestselling author Eva Chen and illustrator Sophie Diao is a moving ode to the immigrant experience, as well as a manifesto of self-love for Chinese American children.
What do you see when you look in the mirror, Mei? Do you see beauty?
We see eyes that point toward the sun, that give us the warmth and joy of a thousand rays when you smile. We see hair as inky black and smooth as a peaceful night sky. We see skin brushed with gold.
Welcome to 2022! As we kick off a new year, we’re exploring the thing that makes Gymboree Play & Music unique, our commitment to Play. This month our brand channels will highlight the many ways play and imagination have a purpose in our lives.
Our booklist reflects titles that teach children how to push the limits of their mind, and explore the world unseen through play. See the books that made the list below.
On a dreary, stuck-inside kind of day, a brother and sister heed their grandmother’s advice: “Use those beautiful and brilliant minds of yours.” And before they know it, their imaginations lift them up and out of their boredom. This precious skill, their grandmother tells them, harkens back to the days long before they were born, when their ancestors showed the world the strength and resilience of their beautiful and brilliant minds. Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael Lopez’s dazzling art celebrate the extraordinary ability to lift ourselves up and imagine a better world.
Ben loves baseball. He loves the lines of diamond-shaped field and the dome of the pitcher’s mound. What Ben doesn’t like is reading. Ben has dyslexia, which means letters and sounds get jumbled up in his brain, and then the words don’t make sense. But when Ben starts looking at reading like he likes to play baseball, he realizes that if he keeps trying, he can overcome any obstacle that comes his way.
There’s lots for baby to explore in See, Touch, Feel: A First Sensory Book. This sturdy board book, with bright photographs of happy babies, is specially designed to stimulate curiosity through sensory play.
As your baby grows, See, Touch, Feel will help your child develop language recognition and motor skills, as they learn to interact with the book in new ways. With lots to explore together, See, Touch, Feel is an ideal first book to share with your baby.
When Sukie’s family moves and she has to start at a new school, she feels shy and lonely at first. But soon she learns that receiving small acts of kindness—someone saying hi, or saving a hoop for her—makes her feel braver, and that passing friendliness along is a good feeling, too. Before long, Sukie, Joe, Poppy, and Stan are all becoming friends! Young readers are invited to join them as they explore meeting new people, celebrating differences, being thoughtful, and standing up for one another.
As 2021 comes to a close, we’ve been reviewing every piece of content, every influencer suggestion, and every submission we’ve come across this year. As we move towards 2022, we wanted to share some of the top influencers we’ve seen doing amazing work in the parenting community! See who made our list below.
Jenna Kutcher is a digital marketer, podcaster, educator, wife, and mother from Minnesota. As a woman of many talents, Jenna inspires thousands of people through her podcast @goaldiggerpodcast in addition to being a mama.
They are a crazy family of 8 from Hawaii. They believe in doing hard things, spontaneous adventures, laughing together and trying new things. You can catch them across social media and on IG and Youtube.
Jessica Shyba has five kids and still manages to blog full time and still look beautiful! Her blog, Momma’s Gone City, is all about her chronicles of moving and being a parent of five in the big city of New York.
With 2021 coming to a close, we are focusing on the things that matter most during the holiday season – family, love, and traditions. Whether it’s the celebration of Diwali, Kwanza, Hanukkah or Christmas, we recognize that each family observes the holiday season in their own way and for that reason, our December theme is “Happiness Through the Holidays.” See which books made our December list below.
Les the Leprechaun finds himself in the ultimate predicament when Calendar encounters a horrific wind that blows the months away! Les discovers St. Patrick’s Day is lost so he sets out find it but instead stumbles upon holiday after holiday that is not St. Patrick’s Day! Will the luck-o-the-Irish be on his side and lead him to his favorite holiday? Travel with him on this whirlwind journey through the holidays to find out!
Home for the Holidays: A Book for Kids About the Different Holidays That Bring Us Together
No matter what holidays you celebrate during the most wonderful time of the year, love, family, togetherness, and giving are universal. In this diversity book for kids, share in the joy with Elmo, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, and more friends with festivities on Sesame Street! From Thanksgiving and Eid al-Fitr, to Chinese New Year, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Christmas, and New Year’s, this special picture book is a heartfelt celebration of different cultures and holidays from around the world. Featuring new and international Sesame Street characters, this sweet story proves that the things everyone cherishes are the same…because there’s no place like home for the holidays.
With beautiful illustrations evoking folk art traditions and sensitive storytelling, Babushka tenderly reminds us that nothing is more important during the holiday season than taking the time to show love for one another. This timeless Russian tale will warm your heart and fill you up with the joyful, generous spirit of Christmas.
It’s Christmas Eve and an elf is on the loose… in YOUR house! Do you have what it takes to catch him? Follow along in this fun holiday story as a mischievous elf causes chaos Christmas Eve! Filled with zany traps, vibrant illustrations, STEAM concepts, and even Santa Claus himself, this Christmas picture book for kids is guaranteed to become a new holiday tradition!
The perfect elf book for kids, funny stocking stuffer or Christmas gift for ages 4-10, this festive read aloud is loved by children, parents, and educators alike.
Wish your little sugarplum a beary Merry Christmas and jingle all the way with this heartwarming story for babies and toddlers! Combining beautiful illustrations, charming animal puns, and the evergreen message of love, All I Want for Christmas is Ewe is a moovelous way to celebrate the season and share your love for each otter.
For fans of I Love You Like No Otter, this cute holiday treat is the best book gift for kids and animal lovers ages 0-3—made just for their little hands! The perfect addition to any Christmas gift, holiday stocking stuffer, baby shower gift, or festive read aloud.
In this episode of the Parent Pod, we spoke to Sheryl Haft the author of the children’s book, Goodnight Bubbala. This zesty parody of Goodnight Moon, offers a very different bedtime routine: one that is full of family exuberance and love. Instead of whispers of “hush,” this bedtime includes dancing and kvelling, and of course, noshing—because this little bunny is a Jewish bunny, and this joyous book celebrates the Jewish values of cherishing your loved ones, expressing gratitude, and being generous.
It is filled with Yiddish words, and includes a phonetic glossary and even an easy latke recipe by beloved cookbook author Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa, who calls the book “brilliant, beautiful, important, and so much fun!”
Sheryl Haft Creates enriching, imaginative books for children. She is the author of four (4) books including Goodnight Bubbala—A Joyful Parody and the forthcoming Mazie’s Amazing Machines (Spring 2023.) The founder of Kids Engineer!, Sheryl teaches design and invention-building to elementary school children in New York City and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
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.
For more than 45 years, parents around the world have entrusted Gymboree Play & Music to support several areas of early development in children ages zero to five. Although we are known for our play-based classes, our value proposition goes far beyond “play” allowing families to present children with unique opportunities to cultivate deep personal knowledge, solve problems and develop real-world skillsets. Our decision as a brand to support learning around the ways children think, explore their environments and ultimately figure things out, sets us apart from other children’s educational companies.
At our core, we believe children must be agents in their own learning. This belief was shared with Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget, whose theory around cognitive development underpins the trends we see in current-day approaches to childhood education. Essentially, his work highlights the ways in which children acquire knowledge, and how their intelligence evolves over time. Piaget’s theory states that cognitive development occurs in four stages which are:
Sensorimotor stage: birth to 18-24 months Preoperational stage: 2 to 7 years Concrete Operational stage: 7 to 11 years Formal Operational stage: ages 12 and up
The Sensorimotor phase extends from birth to approximately 2 years. This period of rapid cognitive growth in babies is where they develop an understanding of the world through their senses (seeing, hearing) along with their motor actions (reaching, touching). During the sensorimotor stage, babies learn two things. Firstly, they learn that objects exist, and secondarily, they learn that motion or events can occur in their immediate space, independent of their actions, or object permanence.
Although his theory states that all children go through the stages in the same order, their individual development is ultimately determined by biological maturation and interaction with their specific environment. And since each child’s development is qualitatively different from the other stages, each stage involves a different type of intelligence based on what they are independently exposed to.
In our Babies, Crawlers, and Walkers classes, children interact with tactile balls, mirrors, scarves, and bubbles. They play with instruments, hear lullabies, music and hear their parents singing. The rhymes, chants, and routines presented in our classes also support language development, memory, and communication skills. By exposing your child to our play-based learning environment from an early age, you support their maturation in this phase of cognitive development.
The next phase is the Preoperational stage which begins around age two and lasts until approximately age seven. During this development, children are thinking at a symbolic level, and they are not yet using cognitive operations. A good way to remember this stage is pre (before) operations, essentially meaning the period of time before children can use logic or transform, combine, or separate ideas.
Another characteristic of this stage is that children also become increasingly adept at understanding symbolism which becomes more obvious to parents who can observe children playing out scenarios through pretend play. This is where role-playing also becomes more important and children start to mimic roles like mommy, daddy, astronaut, pilot, or teacher.
Our Explorers, Play Lab, and Family Play are ideal for this stage of development. Each of these classes challenges young minds to imagine outcomes and play through scenarios. Play Lab in particular, which encourages STEAM-based learning, introduces engineering and experimentation which provide children with the tools for creative problem-solving.
After the Preoperational stage, is the Concrete Operational stage. This developmental period starts around seven to eleven years of age. It is characterized by the development of organized and rational thinking. We’d like to point out here that although our classes are only available to children up to 5 years old, consistent involvement in classes like ours can set children up to make the most out of this phase of learning.
Piaget actually considered this stage as a pivotal turning point in a child’s cognitive development, marking the beginning of logical or operational thought. By now, it is believed that children are now mature enough to use logical thought or operations (like rules for example) but can only apply logic to physical objects.
And lastly, is the Formal operational stage where adolescents gain the ability to think in an abstract manner by manipulating ideas in their head, without any dependence on concrete manipulation. This is just a fancy way of saying that children can start to do more difficult mathematical calculations, think creatively, use abstract reasoning, and even imagine the outcome of particular circumstances.
For more information on our class offerings and to obtain pricing details, find the location nearest you below.
When it comes to building strong foundations for our children, their community is key. Whether it’s a community of friends and family, educators, or people in our neighborhood, children learn about the world around them based on those they engage with most frequently. This month we’re focused on the concept of Community and the ways children can identify the circles and networks around them. See which books made or November list below.
In the circles all around us, everywhere that we all go, there’s a difference we can make and a love we can all show.
This is the story of a circle. When we’re first born, our circle is very small, but as we grow and build relationships, our circle keeps getting bigger and bigger to include family, friends, neighbors, community, and beyond. Brad Montague originally created Circles as an Instagram video adorably narrated by his kids, and now this picture book adaptation is the perfect way to start a conversation about how to expand our worlds with kindness and inclusivity—even if it seems scary or uncomfortable. This book makes an ideal new-baby, first-day-of-school, or graduation gift, or any milestone that celebrates someone’s world getting bigger.
Cooperation, helping, and working together are beautifully illustrated in this book that demonstrates the joys of community and teamwork for young readers.
We’re better together when we play, when we make music, and when everyone pitches in. This celebration of coming together to solve problems, support communities, and honor everyone’s differences is perfect for young children who are learning about empathy and cooperation. With durable cardstock pages and approachable language, this book will help spark meaningful conversations at home or in the classroom.
Indestructibles is the trusted series for easing little ones into story time. Beloved by babies and their parents, Indestructibles are built for the way babies “read” (i.e., with their hands and mouths) and are:
Rip Proof—made of ultra-durable tight-woven material
Waterproof—can be chewed on, drooled on, and washed!
Emergent Literacy Tool—bright pictures and few or no words encourage dialogic reading
Portable—lightweight books can go anywhere, perfect for the diaper bag and for travel
In this engaging nonfiction picture book, five young friends — Nick, Yulee, Pedro, Sally and Martin — spend the day traveling around their neighborhood and participating in activities designed to raise money for their local library. Along the way, they learn about the people and places that make up their community and what it means to be a part of one.
A map opens the story, with each of the places the children will be visiting labeled, including the gas station, retirement home, school, police station, soccer field, community garden and, of course, the library! Then each of the following spreads features a different location, detailed in a bright, busy illustration. Illustration captions expand the locations’ connections to the concept of community. For example, when they stop at a yard sale, the caption reads, “Donating means you give something to help a good cause. You can donate money, things or your time.” In some cases, readers are asked to find things or people within the illustrations, which adds an interactive experience.
Teachers do so much more than just teach academics. They build a sense of community within their classrooms, creating a home away from home where they make their students feel safe, included, and loved.
With its heartfelt message and colorfully whimsical illustrations, “Our Class is a Family” is a book that will help build and strengthen that class community. Kids learn that their classroom is a place where it’s safe to be themselves, it’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s important to be a friend to others. When hearing this story being read aloud by their teacher, students are sure to feel like they are part of a special family.
With more than 45 years of experience, Gymboree Play and Music classes are uniquely and intentionally designed for early childhood development. Through play, your child will be challenged physically, socially and cognitively, building the crucial skills to support a lifetime of learning.
But beyond these benefits, there is more than meets the eye about our brand, and if you’re in the market for a program for your child that checks all of the boxes, you’ll want to see the top 5 reasons to enroll at Gymboree Play & Music today!
We Have Options to Enroll In Virtual or In-Person
Did you know that in addition to our in-person, COVID 19 safe classes, we are now offering online play and learning classes for babies, toddlers, and preschool-aged children. Both class types provide a comprehensive learning option in your local community or in your home. And with flexile class times, you can find a class that fits your schedule.
Choose your child’s favorite theme and we’ll create a private, personalized party experience filled with kid friendly activities guaranteed to be 100% fun with zero clean up! We specialize in 1st birthday parties all the way through to 5th birthday parties. Gymboree Play & Music Parties are available to members and non-members alike. Themes and party packages may vary by location.
We Have Affordable, Easy to Participate In, Music Classes
Experience music from all around the world– music from both past and present, near and far! From The Beatles to Bach! In Music 1, children will delight in the sound of instruments, and “singing” through musical baby talk. They’ll enjoy being sung to, experiencing new sounds and the anticipation of surprise!
Some of the benefits are:
Physical: Sensory exploration time is supported while children practice their motor skills, which is crucial for your baby’s overall development.
Cognitive: Music-play helps activate parts of the brain responsible for music and speech processing. It creates an early appreciation of music and supports language development.
Social: Through music, you can hear and feel emotions. Tunes can be happy, sad, or angry! This supports social development in understanding emotions in a new way.
Adults: You get to engage with your little one making emotional connections and strong bonds. Being involved in your child’s play helps both of you feel more connected.
We Offer Preschool and Kindergarten Readiness Classes
We have a myriad of classes for children ages 3-5.
Our Preschool Prep with HOMER offers highly engaging themes that create a captivating setting for children to be motivated and engaged as they explore movement and gain early learning skills in preparation for preschool, Kindergarten and life!
Your early learner will work on building curiosity, expanding vocabulary, and making meaningful connections as they get “Preschool Ready” with these important life skills.
We’ve created an engaging in-person setting for children to be motivated and engaged as they explore math, SEL, and literacy. Children will learn while enjoying captivating themes that include — All About Me and Farms & Food.
Our small classroom setting will help children develop life-readiness skills like communication and collaboration apart from parents and guardians.
Children will learn to share, follow directions, and take turns. They will also be participating in simple back-and-forth conversational exchanges with both teachers and other children.
Our Locations Are Managed By Franchise Owners Who Care About Early Childhood Development
For over 40 years, our brand has been sparking a love of learning with millions of families around the world, with research-based play programs designed by experts. Whether it’s our home office team or our franchise community, the GPM brand has proven expertise in early childhood education and franchise management.
Our custom curriculum is uniquely created around the 3 keys to early childhood learning (Social/Emotional, Cognitive and Physical). Children are our future and ages 0-5 are the foundational years upon which their later successes—both personal and professional, will be built. Our community believes learning through play is the method that touches each child in a way that helps them learn best. Gymboree Play & Music delivers a joyful experience and enhances learning, while setting the stage for a future filled with possibilities.
It goes without saying, at Gymboree Play & Music, we LOVE music! This month our corporate theme is Music to My Ears and we’re taking a deep dive into the importance of sound and melodies in early childhood development. A couple of weeks back, we published a post that had all kinds of studies about the benefits of music for children, if you missed it you can read more here. But we wanted to take it a step further. Our brand has been around for more than 45 years, and in that time we’ve been asked by parents all over the world about our own philosophy on music, and how and why we pick the songs for classes. For the most part, our Music-osophy has been under wraps, but now – we’re ready to let it out.
Listening is just one of the many ways we experience music and adds an extra layer of sensory development to our little ones’ play experience. But how do we decide what songs to add to our playlists at Gymboree Play & Music?
Studies show that listening to varying genres of music engages larger areas of the brain, helping to create new neural pathways for both cognitive and emotional development. With this in mind, we have created several specially curated playlists that feature many different genres and styles of music. Some songs are specifically catered to children, while others are written for all ages.
Children are exposed to varying rhythms, time signatures, melodies, harmonies, instruments, and even languages. Now, you can also access these playlists at home via our official Gymboree Play & Music Spotify page to listen at home with your little ones!
Our Gymbo Corp Spotify page features two types of playlists: Musical Genre-Based playlists and Theme-Based playlists. Among our Musical Genre-Based playlists, you can enjoy all the various musical genres and regional styles explored in our Music Classes.
Did you hear a recorded song in your music class that you can’t wait to listen to again? You can likely find it on the corresponding playlist.
Our Theme-Based playlists house a series of songs that are specific to a certain theme, such as Living Creatures, The Ocean/Beach, and Transportation.
Several of these themes also match up with the themes in our Play & Learn classes, so you can bring a bit of your class experience home with you!
With the holiday season in full swing, parents everywhere are checking the trends to see what to expect this Halloween season. Lucky for you, we took the time to scour the internet and pull of the information parents are talking about the most right now.
Based on our research, here are 7 key trends each parent should know about in 2021.
1. The Importance of Blue Buckets
You might not have noticed, but in recent years, the blue Halloween bucket has become an unofficial signifier for kids with autism and autism awareness. For the most part, we’re all fairly used to the normal Halloween night practices when it comes to trick or treating. Kids typically ring the doorbell, say “trick or treat” and swiftly receive candy. The buckets are meant to inform the homeowner that the child with autism may be nonverbal, and the candy should be offered without requiring the child to speak.
You can purchase them at major retailers like Target and Walmart.
2. COVID-Friendly Alternatives to Trick or Treating
Although Trick or Treating will always be the cornerstone to Halloween, with COVID restrictions still in place in several states, some families are still opting for safe alternatives. Things like haunted hayrides and pumpkin patches, which allow people to physically distance themselves, are a popular choice this year. And for those who would prefer to stay inside, some families have been holding holiday parties with close friends and loved ones.
3. Pajamas Are The Craze
Holiday pajamas have always been a special treat around this time of year, but for families who don’t want to splurge on costumes, they are exceptionally popular. We spotted some fun options over at Hanna Andersson.
4. Costumes That Reflect All The Best Things About School
Remember when it was trendy to get an astronaut costume, or even a dinosaur? Well, this year parents are opting for costumes that are a true reflection of the sign of the times. After a year without school, some parents are looking for costumes that capture all of the best things about the classroom. So expect to see more kids in school themed costumes like this cute Lunchable from Oriental Trading Co..
5. Squishmallows Are The Craze
Squishmallows are all the craze and in case you haven’t yet heard of them, they are these cute, squishable, plush toys that come in a variety of characters. While you shouldn’t expect to get them in your Halloween basket, they are a nice gift to get for your tot ahead of the holiday season. They are the perfect pal for the stroller, and they are cute to snuggle with. If you want to get your hands on one you might want to shop now as supply chain issues may contribute to their scarcity, come mid-November.
Decoupage pumpkins are a beautiful addition to any home this time of year, but these candy inspired options are all anyone is talking about. The way to get this look is to print some nice candy wrappers, then cut papers into strips, then use Mod Page to decorate your pumpkins. And boom! Now you have candy inspired decoupage pumpkins.
6. Halloween Themed Family Fun Nights
Pumpkin patches, and Halloween mazes will always be a mainstay of the season, but one thing many parents are adding to their to-do list are Halloween Family Fun nights. You can plan a night to carve pumpkins, you can make cookies or you can recreate popular games like Twister – but with a spooky twist. Get instructions on this adorable DIY mat at Pint-sized Treasures.
7. Celebrating During the Day, Instead of Night
It’s been a longstanding tradition to allow the excitement of Halloween to build throughout the day and climax in the evening whilst trick or treating and visiting different neighborhoods. But with varying COVID restrictions, traffic and extended wait times at restaurants some parents are opting out of the late night candy meltdowns. By celebrating early in the day, the kids get the entire afternoon to get the sugar in and out, allowing parents to contain the excitement to daylight hours, while still adhering to the established bedtime routine.
We spotted these fun breakfast ideas over here at Cool Mom Eats.