Building Community in December: Book Recommendations!

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December is all about the power of building community here at Gymboree Play & Music. For children, community involvement and engagement produces long-term benefits that provide a sense of belonging and is crucial to their early childhood identity.

This month’s book recommendations inspire the importance of strengthening community bonds and developing relationships between your littles, family, and teachers.

Happy Reading!

Maybe Something BeautifulMaybe Something Beautiful By F. Isabel Campoy & Theresa Howell

Based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, California, “Maybe Something Beautiful” shows how people living in a gray city bring a little color into their world. Citizens come together to create a work of art more beautiful than they could have ever imagined on their own, and it all starts with one little artist!

 

Its a Wonderful WorldWhat a Wonderful World By Bob Thiele, George David Weiss & Tim Hopgood. As sung by Louis Armstrong

“And I think to myself, ‘What a wonderful world!” There is so much beauty to behold in the world around us. This brightly illustrated book adopts Louis Armstrong’s famous song lyrics to promote love for your community and your “world.”

 

The secret Sky

The Secret Sky Garden By Linda Sarah & Fiona Lumbers

Funni loves spending time at the old car park playing her recorder and flying her kite…. but something is missing. So Funni decides to create a garden in the space. A little boy sees her garden out the window of an airplane and decides to try and find it. As Funni’s flowers bloom, a special friendship blossoms too.

 

All our Welcome

All Are Welcome By Alexandra Penfold & Suzanne Kaufman

Read all about a school where kids in patkas, hijabs, and yarmulkes play side-by-side with friends in baseball caps. These students grow and learn from each other’s cultural traditions, and the whole community comes together to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

 

Rabbits Gift

Rabbit’s Gift By George Shannon & Laura Dronzek

Winter is here and the snow will be falling soon. Luckily, Rabbit finds a turnip… and another one! Does Rabbit hide his extra turnip away for the long winter? Not Rabbit. He decides to share his turnip amongst his forest friends, setting off a heartwarming wave of generosity.

 

Visit your local Gymboree Play & Music today! 

 

 

How to Teach a Little Kindness

G24.jpgIn the thanksgiving spirit, we are celebrating kindness this November. We know as parents you have A LOT on your plate raising that tiny little human — just getting them fed and clothed can feel like a doozy on some days. Sometimes we forget that our little one is watching our every move! When you take the time to pause and say thank you to your barista for that delicious cup of coffee, your little one takes note. Why is this important? Well, those little moments accumulate in your child’s mind and help teach them about how to treat others. To the surprise of many, emotional intelligence actually does not always come naturally to all children. Often it is necessary for parents to take the initiative to help teach their child about understanding others’ emotions and about putting oneself in other people’s shoes.

Parents from What To Expect have put together a list of suggestions that we think are perfect for helping parents raise kind humans and teaching a little kindness!

Practice manners. The first baby sign language words both of our children learned were “please” and “thank you.” We remind our kids even before they can speak, that using manners is commonplace and expected. Our kids have brightened the day for countless cashiers and restaurant servers by signing “thank you” to them before they could even speak.

Introduce empathy. It is never too early to help guide children into recognizing other people’s feelings. We start this lesson through playtime with their siblings and friends. Our rule simply goes that if their playmate starts to cry or says “no” while playing, our kids should immediately stop what they are doing and ask, “Are you okay?” We remind them that we first check to see if they are okay before resuming playtime — and if not, they should get help.

Assist in our works of kindness. Our kids may not be old enough to participate entirely when our charity opportunities arise during the year; however, they are always aware of our plans and eager to help with tasks to prepare for the main event. Our toddler and preschooler help bake cookies for the local fire department, choose toys for our annual Adopt-A-Family through the Salvation Army, and raise money at Halloween with Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF.

Encourage waving and smiling. Sometimes a smile and a wave can be the difference in a bad day. We encourage our kids to smile and wave to people around us, like our neighbors, the garbage man, and the grocery bagger. Having a friendly face toward others is a small but impactful way to be kind.

Teach conversation prompts. In our house, we practice saying phrases during particular situations that will help our kids feel confident while also being kind and caring towards others. We teach our kids to ask, “How is your day?” after saying hello to someone, and “Have a great day!” after saying goodbye. We also practice asking things like, “How is your dinner?” and mentioning, “I am glad to see you.” These simple phrases are mini-kindness boosts while speaking to others.

Practice before doing. Many times in public places, children can unfortunately be the root of frustration for other people. Although not necessarily fair, it is a truth, so we attempt to combat this unpleasantness by simply practicing appropriate behavior before doing new things in public. We have set up our own trial runs at home for the airport security line and appropriate knocking and response for trick-or-treat night. The benefits have been two-fold as our kids’ worries about a new situation have been greatly subdued by getting a chance to experience it first at home, but also for the people we have come in contact with during the real thing.

Approach frustration with patience. When we come upon a potentially frustrating situation, we speak aloud to our kids about what might be the reason for the circumstance and how we might be able to help. For example, if we come up to construction on the road where we have to sit and wait unexpectedly, I’ll say something like, “Looks like they are working hard on the road to keep us safe, huh?” I explain that we need to wait for our turn so that everyone can be careful while others work hard for, ultimately, our benefit. Sometimes patience and kindness are the same exact thing.

Be the example. No matter what you practice and teach your kids, it will rarely be as strong as the example that you show them each day in your own actions. If you speak kindly about others in your home and have patience in difficult situations, you will see your child mimic the same behavior and words in their own actions. Our kids notice when they see someone being kind to a stranger, and I have seen their smiles and manners literally change the frown on a person’s face to a surprised smile.

We cover ALL the above! Find the Gymboree Play & Music near you! 

 

 

Create Your Own Thankful Jar This Thanksgiving!

Treat your children to a new family tradition that is both fun and educational. Have kids create “thankful notes” by drawing a small picture of what they are thankful for. Older kids can use a word or two in addition to drawings.

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It will be fun for kids to create their own little drawings and kids of all ages can participate! Have kids create a “Thankful Note” for 3 or 4 days in November.

Put all of the notes in a jar marked “Thankful Jar”, you can even have the kids decorate it.

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On Thanksgiving Day pull the notes out of the jar and share with the whole family!

It’s Kindness November: Book Recommendations!

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November to Gymboree Play & Music means giving thanks, giving back and being kind. And, in honor of World Kindness Day, we are celebrating KINDNESS all month long! Our expert programming team compiled their top book recommendations to teach about the joys and importance of spreading a little kindness!

thank you omu Thank You, Omu! By Oge Mora

Omu is preparing a thick red stew that smells so delicious, everyone in town wants a bowl! This heartwarming story about sharing and community was chosen for this year’s “Read for the Record” campaign by Jumpstart, in which millions of children and adults are brought together to read in classrooms, libraries, community centers, and homes across the world. 

last stop on market

Last Stop on Market Street By Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson

Every Sunday after church, CJ takes the bus with his grandma through town. With Grandma’s help, CJ learns that you can find beauty and value in everything around you.

 

stick and stone.pngStick and Stone By Oge Mora

Meet Stick and Stone. They stick up for each other ‘cause friends rock! This pair become fast friends when Stick rescues Stone from a mean pinecone. Can Stone return the favor when Stick gets stuck in the mud?

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Do Unto Otters By Laurie Keller

We all know the saying, “Do unto otters as you would have them do unto you.” This playful book lists some different ways otters (and other animals) can be kind to one another.

 

 

ordinary maryOrdinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed By Emily Pearson

Can one little girl’s kindness change the world?  It was an ordinary day for Mary when she came upon a bush growing blueberries. When she decides to pick them for her neighbor, it sets off a chain reaction that multiplies around the world!

 

 

10 Benefits of Dress Up Play

preschool-schoolskills_2036.jpgIt’s one of our favorite times of the year…Halloween! And, with Halloween season comes spooky creatures, candy, and, of course, COSTUMES! Did you know there are tons of developmental benefits to letting your little one dress up in costumes and play? That’s right! When your little one puts on that pirate’s hat, they are transforming their world and pushing their minds to think outside the box!

There’s more going on under that pirate’s hat than you’d think! Read below to learn the many developmental benefits of pretend play and dressing up in costumes!

10 Benefits of Dress Up Play from Sarah Baldwin, M.S.Ed., at Bella Luna Toys:

1. Brain Building

Dress-up engages your child’s brain and memory. Dramatic play requires kids to remember what they’ve seen or heard. They remember how their mother behaves when performing household chores when they are imitating her. Or they recall the details of a fairy tale they’ve heard before acting it out.

2. Vocabulary Building

Dress-up play builds vocabulary as a child decides what his or her character would say. It gives them a chance to expand their vocabularies with words and phrases that they might have heard in stories, but wouldn’t ordinarily use. Children may then begin to use these new words in conversations.

3. Problem-Solving

Who’s going to be the doctor? Who’s going to be the patient? Children must make decisions when they engage in dress-up play. They practice problem-solving problems when deciding on what costumes elements and props each character needs to act out a scenario.

4. Empathy

When a child is engaged in role-play, it helps her see the world through another’s eyes which increases empathy – whether pretending to be a parent nurturing a baby, a doctor taking care of an injured patient, or a firefighter putting out a fire. Dramatic play helps children understand the role that helpers play in in our lives.

5. Emotional Development

Children are constantly confronted with scary situations that they don’t understand – whether witnessing an accident in real life, or seeing violent images on TV. Children process their fears through play, which helps them make sense of the world, and overcome their feelings of helplessness.

By allowing children to act out their fears through dress-up and role playing, we are helping their emotional development.

6. Motor Skills

Children develop fine motor skills by putting on dress-up clothes, whether buttoning a shirt, zipping up pants, or tying on a pirate’s bandana

They use their large motor skills when engaged in role-play, whether they are jumping like a superhero, running like a baseball player, or twirling like a ballerina.

7. Gender Exploration

When children choose costumes and characters to be, they are able to explore different gender identities and the behaviors of those characters.

While boys often want to be superheroes, firemen, or pirates, and girls often want to be fairies and princesses, it is normal and healthy for children to try on different gender roles as they learn about the world. A child should never be ridiculed for pretending to be a different gender.

8. Imitation

Children are naturally imitative creatures. They learn about the world by imitating the lives of the adults and others around them. Through dress-up and dramatic role-play, children explore the lives of other people by imitating their actions, feelings and words.

9. Socialization

Dress-up play encourages cooperation and taking turns. Children learn how to negotiate as they agree on stories and rules. They develop interest in others and learn how to give-and-take.

10. Imagination

Children’s imaginations are limitless, and have not yet been hardened and constrained by the “realities” of the world. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, believed that imaginative play in early childhood is the key to creative thinking during the adult years.

When children engage in dress-up play, their imaginations are given free reign. There is no limit to who, where, or what they can be.

 

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Don’t forget to reserve your spot at one of our Gymboween parties this month! Dress up your little one for a spooktacular good time! Click here to find a location near you.

October’s Mystery Book Recommendations

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In honor of Halloween, we aren’t just throwing amazing Gymb-O-Weencostume parties and spooktacular bashes! We’re also highlighting the many developmental benefits of mystery and imagination that inevitably come with the celebration of Halloween

To get in the Halloween spirit, each of our October book recommendations highlights MYSTERY! If you’re in for a suspenseful, mysterious (and educational!) good time, check out the list below! 

hatch Hatch By Heather Brown

Use the rhyming clues to predict what baby animal is about to hatch from each egg. Little ones will love lifting the flaps to reveal who is hiding inside.

 

 

 

hide and snake

Hide and Snake By Keith Baker

Follow this colorful snake through the pages as he challenges children to find his next hiding place. “Baker’s elaborate acrylic designs, variety of lush hues, and sly wit provide a feast for the eyes while maintaining the cohesive personality of the book from page to page.”–Publishers Weekly. 

 

alphabet mystery

Alphabet Mystery By Audrey Wood and Bruce Wood

Little letter x is missing! Follow the other lowercase letters as they solve the mystery of his disappearance and learn the value of the letter x… the only letter that stands for kisses! xxxx

 

 

moongame.png Moongame By Frank Asch

One night, Bear was playing a game of hide and seek with the moon. When the moon hides behind a dark cloud, Bear becomes worried that the moon is lost! Will Bear ever find the moon?

 

 

 

pigeon

Pigeon P.I. By Meg McLaren

Birds are going missing all over the city and word on the wire is there’s a feather thief on the loose! Not to worry, Pigeon P.I. is on the case! Follow this daring detective and his new partner as they investigate the mystery of a missing friend.

 

 

For more information about our Gymboween parties or to visit a site near you, find your location here! 

September Book Recommendations

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This month we will be celebrating the importance of creative, rhythmic, and internal movement. Studies show that children use movement as part of their development and engaging their bodies helps little ones absorb new skills! Let’s get our move on with these rhythmically inspired September reads! 

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Giraffes Can’t Dance By Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees

Gerald the giraffe wishes he could dance like all the other animals, but everyone knows “giraffes can’t dance.” With some encouraging words from a helpful friend, Gerald discovers “we can all dance when we find the music that we love!

 

flora

Flora and the Flamingo By Molly Idle

Follow Flora and her Flamingo friend as they learn to dance together in perfect harmony. Get creative with this wordless lift-the-flap story!  Challenge older children to mimic Flora and the Flamingo’s movements or play classical music as you help your little one turn the pages and lift the flaps! Try “Swan Lake, Op. 20, Act II: No. 10”  or “Dance of the Hours” from La Gioconda.

 

 

dinosaur dance

Dinosaur Dance By Sandra Boynton

These dinos LOVE to dance! Stomp your feet, shake your tail and get into the groove with this rhythmic rhyming book. Can your little one repeat some of these patterns or try mimicking some of these dances?

 

 

jazz baby

Jazz Baby By Lisa Wheeler and R. Gregory Christie

Singing, snapping, tapping clapping… there are so many ways to make our own music! This Jazz Baby gets the whole family dancing to the beat, and it all starts with a ‘clap-clap-clap!’

 

 

animal boogieThe Animal Boogie Illustrated by Debbie Harter, Sung by Fred Penner

Let’s shake, swing, stomp and boogie along with the animals in the jungle! This book comes with a CD so you can listen and sing along! Encourage older children to dance along or hold baby in your arms as you do the Animal Boogie!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25_u1GzruQM

 

COME VISIT YOUR LOCAL GYMBOREE PLAY & MUSIC! 

5 Tips to Raise Resilient Kids

Children grow and learn through play. And, with play, comes exploration, pushing boundaries and even the inevitable mistake. But that’s OK (and, actually, what we encourage in early development!). Mistakes can teach children resilience and grit IF they are taught to perceive those mistakes as an opportunity to learn.  When we support and encourage children as they take risks, push boundaries and overcome challenges, kids understand how to bounce back and learn from their mistakes!

We love these 5 tips provided by the Big Life Journal on How to Raise Kids who Never Give Up!

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It’s our mission at Gymboree Play & Music to encourage children to explore their world, push their boundaries and step out of their comfort zone. We encourage mistakes, teach children how to learn from those mistakes, and focus on building a growth mindset in our little ones. Because here at Gymboree Play & Music, we know that with mistakes comes success! Come in for a visit today!

FIND YOUR LOCAL GYMBOREE PLAY & MUSIC 

F.A.I.L = First Attempt in Learning

G51As parents, we always want the best for our child and for our child to succeed at everything they do. It’s in our nature to want to help them and nurture them through everything they do. However, when it comes to early development, failure and making mistakes actually leads to their learning and success!

As your little one grows and tackles new developmental milestones, failure is inevitable. When your child learns to walk, falling down and getting up again as they learn to balance is part of the process! When your little one learns to feed themselves, we all know that very little of that food is going to make it into their mouth — but that’s all part of the learning! Your child is actually learning how to succeed in each of these examples by failing (falling, dropping their food, etc). Learning from their mistakes is how they learn to crawl, walk, eat, climb, write, etc. It builds resilience and encourages confidence!

So, that brings up the biggest questions of all — when should you step in and help your little one with that difficult task and when should you let them make a mistake or fail? Below are a few examples from Michigan State University of how you can help your child learn to succeed through failure!

  • Encourage your child to take risks and try new things. Trying new things can be scary, especially if we are worried that if we try, we will ultimately fail. Give your child encouragement to try things outside of their comfort zone, and attempt things they might not be good at right away. By taking risks and trying new things, your child can overcome their fear of failing and learn that when you take risks, you learn so many new things and practice new skills.
  • Emphasize your child’s efforts. Not every effort will result in success. When your child is trying to draw a unicorn for the first time, it likely won’t be a perfect picture. This may be discouraging for your child, but try focusing on emphasizing their efforts. You can talk about their work they put into the project, “You worked so hard on this drawing. You tried something new, you did your best! I’m proud of you for working so hard!” Remind your child that great things happen over time; even famous artists start with a rough draft.
  • Teach problem-solving skills. Failure often makes us feel stuck and can make someone feel like giving up. Teach your child that through hard work and effort, you can work to solve problems. If they are trying to learn a new skateboarding trick and they just can’t seem to pick it up, help them think about what they can do to solve their problem. Is there someone who knows that trick who can help them? Can they watch a video on YouTube that will help them figure out what they need to do differently? Help your child think about what they can do to keep working and trying.
  • Value hard work. Show your child that you value hard work by noticing it happen all around you. Notice those who work hard around you and in your child’s life. Point out the construction workers who are working hard in rain to repair the roads. Write a thank-you note to your mail carrier who works extra hard during the holiday season to help deliver gifts and goodies. Showing gratefulness and appreciation for those that work hard will show your child that hard work is to be valued.
  • Engage in self-praise. When children hear you praise yourself, they learn to do the same. Show off your hard work and that you can be proud of yourself for not giving up on tasks that are hard. When you work hard, say out loud, “I’m so proud of myself! I was having a hard time figuring out how to fix the TV, but I kept trying and I did it! Go me!”
  • Help your child adopt a growth mindset. Show your young child that making mistakes and failing is normal and something that happens to everyone. It means you tried something new. Failure doesn’t mean an ending—it’s just the beginning. You can teach your child to be a hardworking problem solver that can turn their failures into successes. [1]

Let’s make some successful mistakes at Gymboree Play & Music! 

 

[1]  “The Key to Success is Failure.” Michigan State University: MSU Early Childhood Development. November 13, 2018, https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/the-key-to-success-is-failure

 

3 Reasons To Use Gymboree Play & Music Bubble Ooodles At Home!

You can now bring home the Gymboree Play & Music fun and learning with Bubble Ooodles! Our world famous bubbles have been entertaining children for decades. Here’s 3 reasons that Bubble Ooodles can benefit your child in the comfort of your own home.

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  1. Bubble Ooodles create a sensory experience at home – Babies learn and develop from early sensory experiences. Bubble Ooodles engage texture (touch) and movement (sight) to engage the senses.
  2. Familiarity and practice – Children use Bubble Ooodles in our Gymboree Play & Music classes and using Bubble Ooodles at home allows children to practice their gross/fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination. They also feel the familiarity that comes with a common task that they are doing both at school and at home.
  3. Bubble Ooodles are non-toxic and easy to clean up! – Moms love the ease of use that comes with using Bubble Ooodles which is safe on indoor fabrics!

Buy Gymboree Play & Music Bubble Ooodles from Gymbo’s Bubble Shop — you can choose from three different bubble products: Bubble Ooodles Refill (8oz or 16oz) or Bubble Ooodles with Wand and Tray.

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From one of our Gymboree Play & Music teachers – “I highly recommend the bubbles not only for children but for pets as well; what makes them so fabulous & original is that they last so long on surfaces!!