Gymboree Play & Music April Book Recommendations

This month is all about neurodiversity at Gymboree Play & Music!

Neurodiversity is a concept that’s been around for a while. In a nutshell, it means that brain differences are just that: differences. So conditions like ADHD and autism aren’t “abnormal.” They’re simply variations of the human brain. For kids with learning and thinking differences, the idea of neurodiversity has real benefits. It can help kids (and their parents) frame their challenges as differences, rather than as deficits.

Our book recommendations for April aim to support both kids and their parents understand the complexities around neurodiversity, and to educate others on this concept as well. Check out our full list below. 

 

Recommendations for Children

Wiggles, Stomps, and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down

by Lindsey Rowe Parker and Rebecca Burgess 

A Picture Book about Sensory Differences. 


The vibration in her feet when she runs, the tap-tap-tap of her fork on the table at mealtime, the trickle of cool water running over her hands–these are the things that calm her jitters down. This book is for anyone who has ever felt the need for a wiggle, stomp, or squeeze! 

A Friend for Henry

by Jenn Bailey and Mika Song 

In Classroom Six, second left down the hall, Henry has been on the lookout for a friend. A friend who shares. A friend who listens. Maybe even a friend who likes things to stay the same and all in order, as Henry does. But on a day full of too close and too loud, when nothing seems to go right, will Henry ever find a friend—or will a friend find him? With insight and warmth, this heartfelt story from the perspective of a boy on the autism spectrum celebrates the everyday magic of friendship.

Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You

by Sonia Sotomayor and Rafael López 

Feeling different, especially as a kid, can be tough. But in the same way that different types of plants and flowers make a garden more beautiful and enjoyable, different types of people make our world more vibrant and wonderful.

In Just Ask, United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor celebrates the different abilities kids (and people of all ages) have. Using her own experience as a child who was diagnosed with diabetes, Justice Sotomayor writes about children with all sorts of challenges–and looks at the special powers those kids have as well. As the kids work together to build a community garden, asking questions of each other along the way, this book encourages readers to do the same: When we come across someone who is different from us but we’re not sure why, all we have to do is Just Ask.

I See Things Differently

by Pat Thomas 

I See Things Differently will help children understand what autism is and how it affects someone who has it, and is a wonderful catalyst for discussion that will help children to better understand and support autistic classmates or siblings. Titles in the sensitively presented A First Look At series explore the dynamics of various relationships experienced by children of preschool through early school age. Kids are encouraged to understand personal feelings and social problems as a first step in dealing with them. Written by psychotherapist and counselor Pat Thomas, these books promote positive interaction among children, parents, and teachers. The storylines are simple and direct–easily accessible to younger children. There are full-color illustrations on every page.

All My Stripes

by Shaina Rudolph 

Zane the zebra feels different from the rest of his classmates. He worries that all they notice about him is his “autism stripe.” With the help of his Mama, Zane comes to appreciate all his stripes — the unique strengths that make him who he is!

Includes a Reading Guide with additional background information about autism spectrum disorders and a Note to Parents and Caregivers with tips for finding support.

Foreword by Alison Singer, President, Autism Science Foundation.

Recommendations for Parents

Sincerely, Your Autistic Child

by Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network (Author), Emily Paige Ballou (Editor), Sharon daVanport (Editor)

Most resources available for parents come from psychologists, educators, and doctors, offering parents a narrow and technical approach to autism. Sincerely, Your Autistic Child represents an authentic resource for parents written by autistic people themselves.

From childhood and education to culture, gender identity, and sexuality, this anthology tackles the everyday joys and challenges of growing up while honestly addressing the emotional needs, sensitivity, and vibrancy of autistic kids, youth, and young adults. Contributors reflect on what they have learned while growing up on the autism spectrum and how parents can avoid common mistakes and overcome challenges while raising their child.

Part memoir, part guide, and part love letter, Sincerely, Your Autistic Child is an indispensable collection that invites parents and allies into the unique and often unheard experiences of autistic children and teens.

Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity

by Steve Silberman and  Oliver Sacks 

What is autism? A lifelong disability, or a naturally occurring form of cognitive difference akin to certain forms of genius? In truth, it is all of these things and more—and the future of our society depends on our understanding it. Wired reporter Steve Silberman unearths the secret history of autism, long suppressed by the same clinicians who became famous for discovering it, and finds surprising answers to the crucial question of why the number of diagnoses has soared in recent years.  Going back to the earliest days of autism research, Silberman offers a gripping narrative of Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger, the research pioneers who defined the scope of autism in profoundly different ways; he then goes on to explore the game-changing concept of neurodiversity. NeuroTribes considers the idea that neurological differences such as autism, dyslexia, and ADHD are not errors of nature or products of the toxic modern world, but the result of natural variations in the human genome. This groundbreaking bookwill reshape our understanding of the history, meaning, function, and implications of neurodiversity in our world.

Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine 

by Barry M. Prizant 

Autism therapy typically focuses on ridding individuals of “autistic” symptoms such as difficulties interacting socially, problems in communicating, sensory challenges, and repetitive behavior patterns. Now Dr. Barry M. Prizant offers a new and compelling paradigm: the most successful approaches to autism don’t aim at fixing a person by eliminating symptoms, but rather seeking to understand the individual’s experience and what underlies the behavior.

“A must-read for anyone touched by autism… Dr. Prizant’s Uniquely Human is a crucial step in promoting better understanding and a more humane approach” (Associated Press). Instead of classifying “autistic” behaviors as signs of pathology, Dr. Prizant sees them as part of a range of strategies to cope with a world that feels chaotic and overwhelming. Rather than curb these behaviors, it’s better to enhance abilities, build on strengths, and offer supports that will lead to more desirable behavior and a better quality of life.

The Pattern Seekers: How Autism Drives Human Invention

by Simon Baron-Cohen  

Why can humans alone invent? In The Pattern Seekers, Cambridge University psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen makes a case that autism is as crucial to our creative and cultural history as the mastery of fire. Indeed, Baron-Cohen argues that autistic people have played a key role in human progress for seventy thousand years, from the first tools to the digital revolution.


How? Because the same genes that cause autism enable the pattern-seeking that is essential to our species’s inventiveness. However, these abilities exact a great cost on autistic people, including social and often medical challenges, so Baron-Cohen calls on us to support and celebrate autistic people in both their disabilities and their triumphs. Ultimately, The Pattern Seekers isn’t just a new theory of human civilization, but a call to consider anew how society treats those who think differently.

Connecting With The Autism Spectrum

by Casey “Remrov” Vormer  

For a friend, family member, or coworker with autism, communication can be challenging. But Connecting with the Autism Spectrum can help you find common ground with expert tips and helpful insights about talking (and listening) to neurodiverse adults so you can make your interactions more transparent, meaningful, and rewarding for all.

Written by Casey Vormer, a self-taught artist and autism advocate, this comprehensive guide is a trusted source for understanding neurodiversity that features a brief introduction to the autism spectrum. It also provides easy communication strategies like active listening and positive encouragement as well as steps to avoid misunderstandings by teaching how to recognize biases and correct them. Additionally, you’ll learn why the term “high functioning autism” is a misnomer to define members of this vibrant community.

Car Seats, Lactation Support and Everything in Between with Tot Squad Founder Jen Saxton

Episode Information

In this episode of The Parent Pod, we spoke to Tot Squad founder Jen Saxton about how she’s helping families identify and hire the best experts for their family.

Jen is the founder and CEO of Tot Squad. She started Tot Squad in 2011 during her time at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, where her business idea won first place in the Kellogg Cup Business Plan Competition. She’s been featured on CNBC, Fast Company, Forbes, Bloomberg BusinessWeek and The Doctors, you can learn more about her through LinkedIn, and through the Tot Squad website.

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.

Yoga & Meditation for Kids with Yo Re Mi founder Rachel Costello

Episode Information

In this episode of The Parent Pod we spoke to Yo Re Mi founder Rachel Costello about the benefits of teaching yoga to kids and families.

Rachel Costello is a Yoga Alliance certified teacher specializing in hatha, vinyasa, prenatal, postpartum, yoga nidra, trauma-informed yoga and yoga for children and families. She trained with Dharma Mittra and also studied at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram in India, with Rainbow Kids Yoga in Toronto, and at Integral Yoga Institute in NYC. She is currently working toward a Yoga Therapy Certification through the Kripalu School of Integrative Yoga Therapy. Through Yo Re Mi, Rachel works with schools, educators and early childhood professionals to bring music, yoga and mindfulness to young children all over NYC. She is an artist, singer, and performer and loves incorporating dance, theater and music into her classes. Rachel has been teaching both adults and children since 2005 and, as mother of two, especially loves sharing the benefits of yoga and mindfulness with women, children and families.

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.

Gymboree Play & Music March Book Recommendations

Photo Credit Robyn Budlender

Imagine the World Through A Child’s Eyes

This month we are focusing on the magic of imagination and how children see the world from their own perspective. The books we selected are perfect for encouraging children to use their creativity. As you’re reading with your child feel free to ask them questions about the illustrations, or the storyline. Ask them what they think is likely to come next in the story. You can even ask them to imagine a different outcome for the books and see what they come up with.

Our book recommendations for parents include new titles by Michaeleen Doucleff and Kristina Kuzmic. Check out the full list below. 

Recommendations for Children

Everything You Need for a Treehouse

by Carter Higgins and Emily Hughes

Delight your baby in this great big hug in book form, perfect for Valetine’s Day or any time year ‘round! You’ll find love on every page along with Boynton’s classic illustrations and rhyming text.

In a Jar

by Deborah Marcero

Llewellyn, a little rabbit, is a collector. He gathers things in jars–ordinary things like buttercups, feathers, and heart-shaped stones. Then he meets another rabbit, Evelyn, and together they begin to collect extraordinary things–like rainbows, the sound of the ocean, and the wind just before snow falls. And, best of all, when they hold the jars and peer inside, they remember all the wonderful things they’ve seen and done. But one day, Evelyn has sad news: Her family is moving away. How can the two friends continue their magical collection–and their special friendship–from afar?

The Box Turtle

by Vanessa Roeder

An irresistibly cute story about finding the confidence to be yourself, starring a turtle in search of the perfect shell. Terrance the turtle was born without a shell, so he uses a cardboard box instead. Terrance loves his box. It keeps him dry on soggy days, safe from snooping strangers, and is big enough to cozy up with a friend. But when another turtle points out that Terrance’s shell is, well, weird, he begins to wonder whether there might be a better shell out there…

Eventually, and through much trial and error, Terrance learns that there’s nothing wrong with being different–especially when it comes to being yourself.

Please Bring Balloons

by Lindsay Ward  

Ever wondered what it would be like to ride a carousel right off its platform?  As Emma discovers, all it takes is a handful of balloons and a very kind polar bear to show you the way.  This soaring story of friendship, between a carousel bear and the little girl who noticed him, will take readers to the arctic and back—in time for bedtime, of course—and remind them anything is possible.  Even flying.

Max’s Castle

by Kate Banks and Boris Kulikov 

When Max finds a pile of forgotten toys under the bed, his brothers Benjamin and Karl wonder what’s so special about some old blocks. So Max shows them. With some clever twists of both blocks and imagination, he constructs not only a castle but an entire adventure, complete with pirates and knights, a dark dungeon and a dragon.

This ingenious sequel to Maxs Words and Maxs Dragons shows readers just how much fun wordplay can be. This title has Common Core connections.

Recommendations for Parents

Hunt, Gather, Parent: What Ancient Cultures Can Teach Us About the Lost Art of Raising Happy, Helpful Little Humans

by Michaeleen Doucleff 

In Hunt, Gather, Parent, Doucleff sets out with her three-year-old daughter in tow to learn and practice parenting strategies from families in three of the world’s most venerable communities: Maya families in Mexico, Inuit families above the Arctic Circle, and Hadzabe families in Tanzania. She sees that these cultures don’t have the same problems with children that Western parents do. Most strikingly, parents build a relationship with young children that is vastly different from the one many Western parents develop—it’s built on cooperation instead of control, trust instead of fear, and personalized needs instead of standardized development milestones.

Filled with practical takeaways that parents can implement immediately, Hunt, Gather, Parent helps us rethink the ways we relate to our children, and reveals a universal parenting paradigm adapted for American families.

Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine 

by Michele Borba Ed D. 

Michele Borba has been a teacher, educational consultant, and parent for 40 years — and she’s never been more worried than she is about this current generation of kids. The high-achieving students she talks with every day are more accomplished, better educated, and more privileged than ever before. They’re also more stressed, unhappier, and struggling with anxiety, depression, and burnout at younger and younger ages — “we’re like pretty packages with nothing inside,” said one young teen.

Thrivers are different: they flourish in our fast-paced, digital-driven, often uncertain world. Why? Dr. Borba combed scientific studies on resilience, spoke to dozens of researchers/experts in the field and interviewed more than 100 young people from all walks of life, and she found something surprising: the difference between those who struggle and those who succeed comes down not to grades or test scores, but to seven character traits that set Thrivers apart (and set them up for happiness and greater accomplishment later in life). In Thrivers, Dr. Borba offers practical, actionable ways to develop these traits in children from preschool through high school, showing how to teach kids how to cope today so they can thrive tomorrow.

Hold On, But Don’t Hold Still: Hope and Humor from My Seriously Flawed Life

by Kristina Kuzmic 

Kristina Kuzmic has made herself a household name, speaking directly to mothers from the trenches of parenthood via her viral videos and social media presence. She is now bringing her message of self-acceptance, resilience, and joy to book readers. With a refreshingly unpretentious, funny, and galvanizing voice, Kuzmic goes behind the scenes to reveal how she went from broke and defeated to unshakably grounded and brimming with thankfulness. Illuminating the hard-won wisdom from a life always spent one step behind–whether it was as a high school student new to America, a suddenly single mother to two kids, remarried and juggling two teens and a toddler, or the unexpected recipient of Oprah’s attention and investment–Hold On, But Don’t Hold Still is the book every mother needs to reassure her that she’s not only fine just as she is, but that she already has more tools and support than she can possibly imagine. Sparkling with wit, this heartfelt memoir is like a long coffee date with a best friend, or the eleventh-hour text message that gives you just the boost you need to get through the night.

The Brave Learner: Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning, and Life

by Julie Bogart and Susan Wise Bauer 

In this book, Julie Bogart distills decades of experience–homeschooling her five now grown children, developing curricula, and training homeschooling families around the world–to show parents how to make education an exciting, even enchanting, experience for their kids, whether they’re in elementary or high school.

Enchantment is about ease, not striving. Bogart shows parents how to make room for surprise, mystery, risk, and adventure in their family’s routine, so they can create an environment that naturally moves learning forward. If a child wants to pick up a new hobby or explore a subject area that the parent knows little about, it’s easy to simply say “no” to end the discussion and the parental discomfort, while dousing their child’s curious spark. Bogart gently invites parents to model brave learning for their kids so they, too, can approach life with curiosity, joy, and the courage to take learning risks.

The Montessori Toddler: A Parent’s Guide to Raising a Curious and Responsible Human Being

by Simone Davies  and Hiyoko Imai 

It’s time to change the way we see toddlers. Using the principles developed by the educator Dr. Maria Montessori, Simone Davies shows how to turn life with a “terrible two” into a mutually rich and rewarding time of curiosity, learning, respect, and discovery.

With hundreds of practical ideas for every aspect of living with a toddler, here are five principles for feeding your child’s natural curiosity, from “Trust in the child” to “Fostering a sense of wonder.” Step-by-step ways to cultivate daily routines with ease, like brushing teeth, toilet-training, dealing with siblings, losing the pacifier. Plus learn how to:

  • Stay composed when your toddler is not and set limits with love and respect—without resorting to bribes or punishment
  • Set up your home and get rid of the chaos
  • Create Montessori activities that are just right for your one-to-three-year-old
  • Raise an inquisitive learner who loves exploring the world around them
  • See the world through your toddler’s eyes and be surprised and delighted by their perspective
  • Be your child’s guide—and truly celebrate every stage

Meet our new micro-partner “Tot Squad”.

Photo Credit: Khoa Pham


We Have a New Micro-Partner!

Today we’re happy to announce our new micro-partner Tot Squad! Tot Squad connects you with trusted and verified baby experts offering service, education, and support for all of your baby needs. 

Prior to 2020, Tot Squad offered expert car seat and baby gear installation, cleaning and safety services at locations across the US.

Today, the new TotSquad.com reflects expanded parenting service offerings, including their expert car seat installation, but also postpartum doula support and sleep training, and more services being added weekly.

Get your pressing parenting needs answered virtually via their live video link with trained experts, or they can dispatch these same experts to your home for more personal communication, depending on where you live. 

They are offering a special discount on these services to our customers. Learn more about them and the promotion here

Exploring Toys as Tools in Play with Scientific Mommy Co-Founder Erin O’Connor

Episode Information

In this week’s episode of the Parent Pod Podcast, we spoke to Erin O’Connor the co-founder of Scientific Mommy.

The Director of New York University’s Early Childhood Education Program, Erin is a tenured professor and holds a Doctorate in Human Development and Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a Masters in Teaching from Fordham University, and a Masters in School Psychology from Columbia University. Erin teaches human development and education classes to pre- and in-service teachers in New York City schools. She also co-directs a community partnership working with families and caregivers. 

​In addition, Erin leads a research program examining relationships with mothers and teachers and the impacts of these relationships on children’s development in early and middle childhood. She also conducts randomized control trials of relationship-building interventions on the language and social development of pre-kindergarten children from low-income families and neighborhoods. 

Erin has published in educational and psychology journals including the American Educational Research Journal, Journal of Educational Psychology, and Journal of Applied Psychology. Her work is supported by grants from several institutions including the Institute for Education Sciences. She is a member of the American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, and the Society for Research in Child Development.

Feel free to check out the episode and comment on the conversation with the #gymboreeplayandmusic hashtag. You can also shop a wide variety of toys in any of our open locations in North America.

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.

February Book Recommendations

Photo Credit Kelli Mcclintock

Love is in the air at Gymboree Play & Music 

The month of February has been known for “love” for as long as any of us can remember. This February we have decided to show our love a little differently. 

For those of you who have followed our brand since our inception 40+ years ago, you know that we provide an inclusive, warm environment for our parents to support their children’s learning and growth. To expand this practice, this month we have added a few braille children’s books.  These books can be read by the parent, and can help your child become acquainted with braille. 

Gymbo loves each and every one of you, and he wants to help more children cultivate an appreciation of reading through more versatile titles. 
 
See the full list below. 

 

Recommendations for Children

Snuggle Puppy

By Sandra Boynton

Delight your baby in this great big hug in book form, perfect for Valetine’s Day or any time year ‘round! You’ll find love on every page along with Boynton’s classic illustrations and rhyming text.

Love

By Emma Dodd

This sweet story featuring a pair of bunnies is perfect for babies and toddlers. Follow a young rabbit and her parent as they spend the day in the meadow. The little rabbit finds love in many places, but knows a parent’s love is always best! This book is also available in braille at nbp.org

I Love You Stinky Face

By Lisa Mccourt & Cyd Moore

Older toddlers and preschoolers will love this playful bedtime story that shows a mother’s unconditional love for her little boy. “But Mama, what if I were a super smelly skunk, and I smelled so bad that my name was Stinky Face?” As he imagines himself to be a variety of sillier and sillier creatures, he finds that nothing will change his mother’s love for him. This book is also available in braille at braillebookstore.com

A Kiss for Little Bear

By Else Holmelund Minakik & Maurice Sendak

Little Bear asks Hen to deliver a drawing he made to his grandmother, who then sends Hen back with a kiss for little bear. Your older toddler or preschooler will love hearing how the kiss travels from Little Bear’s grandmother, to Hen, and all the way to Little Bear with a few stops along the way. Kisses are a great way to show your little one some love! Make this story lovingly playful by giving your little one a kiss each time the kiss in the story is passed along. This book is also available in braille at braillebookstore.com

Happy Valentine’s Day, Curious George

By N. Di Angelo, H. A. Rey, & Mary O’Keefe Young

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Curious George!  Join every preschooler’s favorite inquisitive ape as he and his friends decorate cookies and make Valentines, with some hilarity along the way! How much mischief can one monkey get into on Valentine’s Day?

Recommendations for Parents

The Scaffold Effect: Raising Resilient, Self-Reliant, and Secure Kids in an Age of Anxiety

by Harold S. Koplewicz  

In The Scaffold Effect, world-renowned child psychiatrist Harold Koplewicz introduces the powerful and clinically tested idea that this deliberate build-up and then gradual loosening of parental support is the single most effective way to encourage kids to climb higher, try new things, grow from mistakes, and develop character and strength.

Drawing on Dr. Koplewicz’s decades of clinical and personal experience, The Scaffold Effect is a compassionate, street-smart, and essential guide for the ages.

Make Their Day: 101 Simple, Powerful Ways to Love Others Well

by Karen Ehman  

In this practical and deeply touching guide–inspired by her book Reach Out, Gather In–popular author Karen Ehman gives you 101 actionable ideas you can implement today to truly make a difference in the lives of other people. Make Their Day is filled with creative ideas to connect with your family and friends on a deeper level throughout the year. This book will help you develop habits of kindness, reconnect with friends and family, and make encouraging people a priority. You’ll be able to put these ideas into action in real time with everyone in your life–even if hospitality doesn’t come naturally to you or you don’t think you have time.

Let’s outshine the negativity and hatred in our world, and reach out to others with love, just as God intended.

Live Love Now: Relieve the Pressure and Find Real Connection with Our Kids 

by Rachel Macy Stafford 

With illuminating, straightforward strategies, this guide reveals the importance of practicing acceptance, pursuing peace, and exploring wellness and purpose for yourself so you can be the kind of real, relevant, and lifelong role model young people are searching for. Engaging and thoughtful, each chapter includes moving stories from Rachel’s personal journey as a mom of a teen and pre-teen along with illustrative narratives and prompts to help you reflect and take steps toward becoming the kind of adult young people trust.

Whether you’re a parent, educator, older sibling, coach, or anyone in a role of leading young people, this book will help you meet the goal of raising and guiding young people to become resilient, compassionate, and capable adults.

The Intellectual Lives of Children

by Susan Engel  

Adults easily recognize children’s imagination at work as they play. Yet most of us know little about what really goes on inside their heads as they encounter the problems and complexities of the world around them. In The Intellectual Lives of Children, Susan Engel brings together an extraordinary body of research to explain how toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary-aged children think. By understanding the science behind how children observe their world, explain new phenomena, and solve problems, parents and teachers will be better equipped to guide the next generation to become perceptive and insightful thinkers.

The activities that engross kids can seem frivolous, but they can teach us a great deal about cognitive development. A young girl’s bug collection reveals important lessons about how children ask questions and organize information. Watching a young boy scoop mud can illuminate the process of invention. When a child ponders the mystery of death, we witness how children build ideas. But adults shouldn’t just stand around watching. When parents are creative, it can rub off on their children. Engel shows how parents and teachers can stimulate children’s curiosity by presenting them with mysteries to solve.

UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World

by Michele Borba Dr. 

In UnSelfie Dr. Borba pinpoints the forces causing the empathy crisis and shares a revolutionary, researched-based, nine-step plan for reversing it.

The good news? Empathy is a trait that can be taught and nurtured. Dr. Borba offers a framework for parenting that yields the results we all want: successful, happy kids who also are kind, moral, courageous, and resilient. UnSelfie is a blueprint for parents and educators who want to kids shift their focus from I, me, and mine…to we, us, and ours.

10 Valentine’s Day Ideas Your Child Will Love

Valentine’s Day is a special day for kids to celebrate love and friendship. We rounded up some of the cutest Valentine’s Day ideas from blogs near and far, and we included them in our list below. Enjoy!

Make Valentine’s Day Boxes at Home

Help your kids craft Valentine’s Day boxes to collect all of their Valentine’s Day cards from their classmates, friends, and family! They’ll love the chance to get creative with the colors and materials they can use. We spotted these cute boxes over at Giggle Galore.

Give Airplane Valentines

These cute little airplanes will surely make any child’s heart soar! A quick trip to the candy aisle will get you all you need. And these airplanes are easy enough that your kids can join in on the fun of making them, too! Get the tutorial at The Krazy Coupon Lady.

Buy A Valentine’s Themed Lego Set

Even kids who aren’t into Lego (are there any?) will be drawn to this irresistible canine cherub. With 150 pieces, this set is a challenge, yet it comes together quickly enough that young children won’t lose interest. This is available at Amazon.

Throw A Chocolate Fondue Party

Who doesn’t like chocolate? Kids will love dipping cookies, crackers, or fruit in this sweet fountain. This idea is deliciously smooth and perfect for a Valentine’s Day dessert. We spotted this over on Fresh Mommy Blog.

Share An Animal Gram

You can get a pack of four zoo animals at the Dollar store and tie them to construction paper as shown above. We spotted this over on The Blue Robin Cottage.

Stage a Fun Photo

This adorable Valentine balloon craft is made with only a few supplies! You can even modify the balloons by drawing your own, using heart stickers or make fingerprint hearts. Get the full tutorial at The Best Ideas for Kids Blog.

Do An Experiment With Candy

Valentine’s Day is a fun holiday to experiment with candy. And this blog shows you science experiments that can be entertaining for your little ones. Check out their ideas here.

Bake Red Velvet Cookies

These red velvet sugar cookies will make your day! Soft & tender, fun & brightly colored, with a hint of cocoa & a slight cream cheese tang. Get the recipe at Baking A Moment.

Make Heart-Shaped Cheesecake

You’ll make everyone happy with this marbled red velvet cheesecake recipe. It’s packed with flavor and tastes just as good as it looks. Get the recipe at The Novice Chef Blog.

Make A Box Of Chocolates

It’s fun to receive a box of chocolates, but have you ever thought about making the box of chocolates yourself? This tutorial is easy to duplicate. Check out the full tutorial at Lily The Wandering Gypsy.

Hiring the Perfect Caregiver with the Windy City Nanny Florence Ann Romano

In this episode of The Parent Pod spoke to the Windy City Nanny (Florence Ann Romano) about everything from nanny cams to hiring dos and don’ts for parents.

Florence Ann Romano, The Windy City Nanny ™, is an author, podcast co-host of “Finger Painting the Future”, a philanthropist and child-care expert who has always had a special place in her heart for children. Romano worked for over 15 years as a nanny, beginning as a ‘Mommy’s helper’ at the age of 11. She believes the key to success for a family is by focusing on what she has coined as THE TRIFECTA – parent, child, and caretaker working in unison toward common, family goals.

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.

January Book Recommendations

Photo Credit Paige Cody

Out With the Old, In With the New… Books 📚

We’re celebrating 2021 by focusing on experiences that are new and exciting for parents and kids alike.

From yoga and mindfulness to New Year’s celebrations and flowers, our January book recommendations teach your little one about the joy of new beginnings.

See the full list below.

 

Recommendations for Children

The Stars Will Still Shine

by Cynthia Rylant and Tiphanie Beeke 

Author Cynthia Rylant and illustrator Tiphanie Beeke bring us a story that is perfect for all ages. No matter what the new year may bring, the stars will still shine.Through positive affirmations in gentle verse this book teaches that even when we face new challenges in our lives, many things will always stay the same. We can take comfort in all he goodness life has to offer.

Little Yoga: A Toddler’s First Book of Yoga

by Rebecca Whitford and Martina Selway 

Get your toddler up and moving and try something new with this first book of yoga poses! Encourage your toddler to move just like “yoga baby” as you model the poses alongside them. Make a New Year’s resolution to spend time each day moving along with your toddler!

The Night Before New Year’s

by Natasha Wing and Amy Wummer

It’s the night before New Year’s! The whole family is dedicated to staying up until midnight to bring in the New Year. Everyone has sparkly streamers and fancy party hats. But after a night filled with many cupcakes and card games, will the children be able to stay awake? Older toddlers and preschooler will love this rhythmic rhyming text and hearing about the family’s New Year’s festivities.

The Tiny Seed

by Eric Carle  

Beloved author Eric Carle brings us an inspiring story about a flower. We begin with a tiny, brand-new seed floating in the wind. Preschoolers will love the gorgeous collage illustrations as they learn about all the hardships this tiny seed endured to be able to grow into a new flower. At the end of the story, we see the cycle begin anew as the flower sheds its seeds into the wind.

If I Never Forever Endeavor

by Holly Meade

A little bird, safe in the comfort of his own nest, wonders whether he should try to fly. On the one wing, he might fail. But on the other wing, he might soar! He’ll never know unless he tries. This sweet story about trying new things will resonate with anyone facing a challenge, a rite of passage, or a change. Preschoolers will enjoy following along with this story and cheering on the little bird until he is finally ready to take flight.

Recommendations for Parents

The Power of Showing Up: How Parental Presence Shapes Who Our Kids Become and How Their Brains Get Wired

by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson 

Based on the latest brain and attachment research, The Power of Showing Up shares stories, scripts, simple strategies, illustrations, and tips for honoring the Four S’s effectively in all kinds of situations—when our kids are struggling or when they are enjoying success; when we are consoling, disciplining, or arguing with them; and even when we are apologizing for the times we don’t show up for them. Demonstrating that mistakes and missteps are repairable and that it’s never too late to mend broken trust, this book is a powerful guide to cultivating your child’s healthy emotional landscape.

Untigering: Peaceful Parenting for the Deconstructing Tiger Parent

by Iris Chen 

In Untigering, Iris Chen shares her journey of leaving behind authoritarian tiger parenting to embrace a respectful, relational way of raising children. As a Chinese American mom, she draws from her experiences of living in both North America and Asia and offers insights and practices to:

Heal from your childhood wounds
Change your beliefs about yourself and your children
Parent through connection instead of control
Redefine your understanding of success
Navigate and challenge cultural norms

Iris calls for a radical shift from parenting that is rooted in power to one that is grounded in partnership, but she does so with humor, humility, and empathy. This book is her invitation to you to begin your own journey of transformation as a parent.

Parent Up: Inspire Your Child to Be Their Best Self

by Kelly Rippon  

How do you raise a champion? After her son Adam Rippon, medaled in the 2018 Olympic Games, single mom Kelly Rippon found herself being asked this question all the time. Kelly had six children―what did she do to inspire them to their achievements and how did she raise confident, self-driven, emotionally intelligent children? Kelly realized that her unique parenting ideas shared the same leadership influence model she presented to audiences across the country as a motivational and professional development speaker.

Her philosophy is simple: a parent has the greatest opportunity to be the most significant influence in a child’s life. Kelly shares ten key types of influence―from Optimism to Accountability―that will inspire your kids and build your own sense of purpose and self-worth.

The Parenting Toddlers Workbook: Manage Your Child’s Moods, Potential, and Well-Being 

by Katie Penry PsyD

Toddlers have a difficult reputation―and an easy aptitude for connection, learning, and growth. Nurture your toddler’s potential with The Parenting Toddlers Workbook, a resource packed with research-driven tools and quick, accessible parenting techniques. Key insights into your child’s development, combined with tailored exercises and activities, help deepen your understanding―and strengthen your bond.

Explore strategies for parenting toddlers of different ages: 12 months, 18 months, 2 years, 3 years, and 4 years.

The 6 Needs of Every Child: Empowering Parents and Kids through the Science of Connection

by Amy Elizabeth Olrick (Author), Jeffrey Olrick  (Author)

Like most parents, Amy and Jeffrey Olrick left the hospital with their first child desperate to know, “What do we do?” But years of parenting three kids and Jeffrey’s work as a child psychologist convinced them to ask a better question: “How shall I be with this new person?”

In a culture obsessed with parenting formulas, it’s easy to miss the fact that science and lived experience have proven that human development and thriving are a matter of relationship. Drawing on decades of psychological research, neuroscience, and their own experience as parents and people of faith, the Olricks present six relational needs for human growth that will transform the way you think about your child–and yourself. Together, the needs form a trustworthy compass to guide you and your child to a path of purpose and relational wholeness.