10 STEAM Activities To Do With Your Pre-schooler This Fall

It’s fall and we’re going full STEAM ahead!

STEAM is an educational discipline that aims to ignite an early interest and love of math, art, and sciences in children. Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math are similar fields of study in that they all involve creative processes and none uses just one method for inquiry and investigation. 

Not only do these activities support the development of math and science skills but also provide opportunities to strengthen language skills. A study by researchers at the University of California Irvine even found that early math skills were the most consistently predictive measure of future academic success among kindergarten to fifth-grade students.

This month, as we continue our partnership with DreamWorks Animation and Netflix for Gabby’s Dollhouse, we’re focused on highlighting the STEAM activities that are in the show. Some of our locations are hosting STEAM Parties to explore Bubble Science, but just in case you can’t make it, or don’t have an event near you, we pulled 10 STEAM-themed experiments you can do at home with your pre-schooler.

1. Ice Cream in a Bag

Looking for a simple treat that’s fun to make? Try this easy recipe for making ice cream in a bag. Little ones will get to expend some energy as they shake, shake, shake to churn the ice cream. This activity is best for preschool-age children (~22 months and older).

2. Black Pepper Soap Science Experiment

Teach little ones in an abstract way why it is important to wash your hands to keep yourself and others healthy. This activity is best for Explorers and preschool-age children (~2 years and older).

3. Soap Playdough

Use this playdough recipe for a fun STEM-building challenge that your kids will love! You can use simple materials to challenge children to build, create and problem solve with this recipe.

4. Magnetic Fishing Game

Practice your hand-eye coordination with this easily-assembled fishing game. You can even talk to your little ones about how magnets work! This activity is best for Explorers and preschool-age children (~20 months and older).

5. Sensory Bin Coffee Grounds

Don’t throw out those coffee grounds just yet! Learn 3 ways to use coffee grounds for a super sensory bin! From a Spring garden to a construction site, what else can you think of to do with your coffee grounds? This activity is best for Explorers and preschool-age children (~20 months and older).

6. Toy Car Painting

Bored of your paintbrush? Try painting with a toy car instead! Afterward, you can bring out a tub of water and have a car wash. This activity is best for Runners, Explorers, and Preschool-age children (~20 months and older).

7. Slime

This slime recipe is super! Mix together water, borax, wet glue, and a bit of food coloring or paint. This activity is best for preschool-age children (~2.5 years and older). Be sure to supervise your little ones while they play with their slime!

8. Color Explosion Science

Chemistry doesn’t have to be boring—especially when you can get a cool art project out of it! This science experiment demonstrates chemical reactions. Not only is it fun to watch, but even more exciting to do.

 

9. Five Green Speckled Frogs

Enjoy this fun stop-motion version of a classic finger-play song! This activity is perfect for children of all ages!

10. Threading Practice

Let your little one practice some threading using simple supplies. Great for developing fine motor skills and preparing for tasks like lacing up shoes or stringing beads. This activity is best for Walkers, Runners, Explorers, and preschool-age children (~14 months and older). Make sure younger children are no longer mouthing and be sure to supervise them during this activity.

How to Inspire a Growth Mindset In Your Child


Whether we consciously know it or not, we all have certain beliefs about our abilities and our future potential. These beliefs form the foundation of our mindset early in life, ultimately fueling our behavior, and shaping our everyday lives.

This month we’re discussing the idea of the growth mindset, and why it can support the future success of your child. We took a deep dive into the research of Dr. Carol Dweck, which was featured in her 2014 TED talk

In her research at Stanford University, Dr. Carol Dweck identified two different types of mindsets. Read more below. 

What are the mindsets? And why do they matter?

According to Dweck, the beliefs children have about intelligence, effort, and struggle impact the choices they make about learning. Based on her research, people tend to hold one of two different beliefs about intelligence:

    • Children with a growth mindset believe that intelligence can be developed. These students see school as a place to develop their abilities and think of challenges as opportunities to grow.
    • Children with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence is fixed at birth and doesn’t change or changes very little with practice. These students see school as a place where their abilities are evaluated, they focus on looking smart over learning, and they interpret mistakes are a sign that they lack talent.

Developing the right mindset early on is crucial for a successful, happy life. When kids learn putting forth effort and using the right strategies can help them get better at things, they feel empowered, and try harder. When they know their brains are capable of growing, they are more confident, resilient, and are not afraid to fail! 

So how do we instill this simple and incredible concept to children? To start, it’s important to understand the basics.

Step 1: Build the Foundation 

Take time to talk to your child about the following questions:

  1. What does it mean to GROW? What sorts of things grow? Answers will vary. Growth means to develop, change, mature, evolve. Living things grow – plants, animals, and people. Even our brains can grow!

  2. When you think of the brain or minds, what do you think MINDSET means? Mindset is the way our brain perceives ourselves and the world. Our mindset helps us look at problems and mistakes in a positive way!

  3. Let’s put those words together: growth and mindset. When we combine them, it means something really important. What could growth mindset mean? A growth mindset is believing in the power of yourself and your brain! We know our intellect and abilities develop when we try difficult things, use the right strategies, and don’t give up. So a growth mindset is when we know, with practice, we will get better at something.

  4. If fixed is the opposite of growth, what does it mean to have a FIXED mindset? A fixed mindset means you think you can’t get better at things, even if you practice. Wanting to quit, give up, or deciding we’re just not good at something are all clues we have a fixed mindset.

Step 2: Share Examples from Your Life

Share a personal story about when you were stuck and used hard work and/or help from others to overcome a challenge. 

Ask your child to share similar examples from their lives. You can encourage other caretakers like grandparents, babysitters or siblings to do this with your child as well. 

Step 3: Practice Switching from a Fixed to Growth Mindset

Ask your child/class to think of some FIXED mindset phrases commonly used at home or anywhere else (“I am not good at this”, “I can’t do anything right”), and write them down.

Next, create a list of alternate phrases that reflect a growth mindset (“I’m not good at this yet”). Above the fixed mindset column, write “Instead of” and on the Growth mindset column, “I Can Say…”

Ask your children how they can change each statement from negative to empowering. For example, you could ask, “What is a better way of looking at a situation?”

Step 4: Use the Power of Yet

With one simple word, any fixed mindset phrase can be transformed into a statement of hope. “I can’t do this…yet.” It’s all about the FUTURE, and not giving up until we get there.

Make a “YET” bulletin board or designate a wall at home for all the things you can’t do…yet!

Step 5: Encourage Productive Struggle & Reframe Mistakes

In the safe environment of your home or class, give children time to think through their challenges, brainstorm solutions, and seek help if needed. Grappling with a problem builds resilience, so give kids time for reflection before jumping in to help or “save” them.

Get excited when opportunities for growth occur! In a challenging moment, say things like, “This seems like an opportunity to grow our brains!” Create  
an environment where setbacks are expected and even celebrated

Content appearing from this blog was originally published on TED, and Big Life Journal

 

Encourage Independence In Your Child With These 4 Tips


We all know our children will eventually take their place in the world, but long before they become Olympians, doctors, and teachers, they are just little tykes who are looking to us to understand the basics of life. Whether it’s confidence, grit, or independence, our small cues help them better understand how to approach these things and how to practically leverage them in their environment. Below are some proven tips to help you support your child develop their own independence as they grow. 

 

Give Them Tasks

One way to help your child understand independence is to give them tasks to complete on their own. Research supports that small tasks and chores for children are a way to building a sense of responsibility, teaching collaborative skills and nurturing empathy. Not only does it give the child the opportunity the finish things on their own, but it’s a subtle way to help them understand your expectations. Some simple tasks to try are: 

  • Putting away toys.
  • Let them select the bedtime story.
  • Let them determine their daily snack, get it out of the fridge and clean up.
  • Help make bed.
  • Select clothes for the day.

Ask Questions 

As parents, it’s common to step in and make decisions that we feel is in the best interest of our kids. But what’s not so common is to ask the child if they agree with what we’ve selected and why. By asking questions we get a sense of their preferences, and we help them think critically about what they prefer and why. Some simple questions to ask are: 

  • What kinds of snacks should we buy?
  • What kinds of shows do you want to see?
  • What kinds of places do you want to visit?

Let Them Struggle (A little)

No one likes to see their child struggle. But when it comes to their long-term success, sometimes allowing them to struggle temporarily is a good thing. Let your child to try things that are difficult (for them) to solve on their own. When children are first learning to walk, we let them fall. When they try something that’s spicy (that we told them not to), we wait for the tears and offer something to quell the burn. Leave room for your child to feel discomfort, learn and try again from their own learned experience.

 

Give Positive Feedback

It goes without saying that we should always support a job well done. But what’s important when it comes to independence, is to support all of the attempts and failures. Children need to know that their progress is a step in the right direction. When you provide the cue that some failure is normal, and they will get it right, they will thrive through those hiccups. 

 

5 Ways to Resocialize Your Kids This Summer


Every parent wants their child to have a strong foundation early in life. Whether it’s through their child’s ability to excel in academic environments, meet milestones or even make friends, parents are constantly on the lookout to help their little one succeed. 

But what does a parent do when a global pandemic shifts their ability to control how their child develops outside of the home? They do what most parents did last year,  provide as much emotional and academic support in the home as possible, and hope for the best

But now that more businesses are re-opening, parents have found themselves facing new questions; how much did the pandemic really impact my child, and how do I resocialize my kids so they feel comfortable in the world again? 

We feel your pain moms and dads, so we set out to find answers to both of these questions.

To our surprise, researchers said the pandemic might not have impacted your littles as much as you think. A recent New York Times article revealed, “The majority of neurotypical kids will be able to socialize just fine… A lot of socialization happens implicitly through interactions with caregivers,” said Erika Hernandez a postdoctoral scholar of social development at Penn State. “Just having conversations with your kids, asking them about their feelings, and setting boundaries gets you most of the way to the socialization they need.”

But if you’re not completely sold on this theory, we did some research to identify the top 5 ways other experts are saying you should support your child this summer as they venture back into the world. 

In no particular order, experts say: 

Start Small 

In our excitement to get back into the swing of things, and re-start our “old-life,” we may inadvertently rush this process for our kids. We have to keep in mind that even though we’re comfortable spending time with new people in new environments, our children still need to operate at their own pace. Taking small steps with new interactions should also be managed with mini-milestones. Experts say setting small incremental goals can help children feel more in control about facing uncomfortable situations where their initial response may be to avoid.

Go at the Child’s Pace

Another way parents can ease the transition of re-socializing is to start with environments and people with whom the child may be more familiar. Pediatric psychologist Kate Eshleman, PsyD, encourages parents to remember kids need to go at their own pace. 

“Kids haven’t had to share with others, and they haven’t had to talk to unfamiliar adults,” Dr. Eshleman says, “so you may see some shyness or kids responding to other people in ways that aren’t typical of how they act around their families.”

A Routine Helps

Whether you want to re-start classes at Gymboree Play & Music, join a play-date group or head to the farmer’s market, other experts say it’s best to create a routine around the places your child will socialize in. Pandemic aside, when babies and toddlers are a part of familiar activities and routines, they establish relationships with familiar people who help them gain a sense of self-confidence. And as older toddlers and young children grow, a routine can help them demonstrate independence.

Listen to Them in Busy Environments

One of the positive benefits children experienced in the last year was more of their parent’s undivided attention. In many cases, they haven’t had to compete with other adults or people to get your attention. As social engagement for your family picks up, don’t forget to listen to your child when other people are around. They need to know you haven’t cut them off now that other adults are around. We found this proven research on the CDC website that gives some examples of how to actively listen to your child so they feel supported. 

Try the Scaffold Approach

The concept of Scaffolding is that a light framework helps to support new skills as the child is stretching beyond their current, stable abilities. It teaches kids to reach higher because the scaffolding provides extra support. When the child can do it themselves, the support is removed. And just like a building supported by scaffolding during construction, it stands on its own.

According to Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, author of The Scaffolding Effect, the three pillars of scaffolding are support, structure, and encouragement. At every stage, parents can model and teach positive, prosocial behaviors, give corrective feedback, and boost self-esteem. 

In practical terms, Scaffolding means: 

  • Support your children with empathy, and validation. Assure your child that you understand their fears and concerns. 
  • Provide security through scheduling. Many of our structural norms — like having breakfast and going to Gymboree Play & Music were upended during the pandemic. You can ease a child’s anxiety by reestablishing old household routines and reinforcing rules more than you have in the past. 
  • Encourage your kids to put themselves out there. This can be as simple as taking them to the park and encouraging them to play with other kids, or arranging play dates where the kids can interact with other kids to watch a movie, bake or engage in a shared interest or activity. 

Transform Your Home for Play, Life & Learning

Transitioning from an actual office, school or learning center to an at-home work and play environment has been an overwhelming shift for parents around the world.

Where homes used to have obvious and defined areas for lounging and living, the lines have become blurred to accommodate for Zoom calls, and remote,  (or “virtual”) learning, on top of day-to-day life.

We’ve gathered some of the best tips for creating a co-working, co-learning, space in your home, that won’t break the bank or require you to overload your home with tons of furniture.

Create Boundaries
Giving your play area boundaries not only helps to keep toys and objects in their proper space, but it gives your child the impression that they have a special part of your home or living room that is all theirs.

Use Containers & Cabinets to Conceal Items
Just because you aren’t likely to have company at this time, doesn’t mean you should forgo the cleaning and organizing you would typically undertake. Using a cabinet, cloth baskets or a shelf will keep things like toys, papers, work-out gear, and virtual class tools out of sight when you want to enjoy your living space.

Repurpose Everyday Items for Learning 
Believe it or not there are tons of items you can find around your home that are perfect for learning. Things like q-tips, sponges, balls, and disposable dixie cups can be used for art and science projects. 

Set Defined Working and Learning Hours for Your Space
One of the biggest hurdles that working parents and little learners have had in recent months has been how to keep a routine in what seems to be a routine-less world.

Our advice: treat your day, and your space just like you would if you were in a routine. If you are supposed to be in a class or in a meeting at a specific time, commit your space to those things at their assigned time.

Once those things would typically end, leave the space accordingly. So, for example, if you would typically be at a desk at 8am, get out of bed and sit at your desk or table at 8. If your baby has a class, get your virtual space set up, and when the class is over – put away any class related items. 

Although it appears that life won’t be back to “normal” anytime soon, at least we can find ways to make our day-to-day life more manageable. 

Hang in there, mama!

 

 

Believe in Self-Confidence

email template for July

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. So much learning takes place through mistakes, building a growth mindset that promotes self-confidence in our little ones.

Raising a confident and happy child is important. It sets a foundation for the rest of their lives and helps them learn necessary emotional and social skills. When your little ones believe in their ability to accomplish tasks on their own, they will feel empowered to take on challenges in all aspects of life.

Here are a few ways to help build self-confidence in your child:

Focus on strengths
Strengths come in all shapes and sizes. Some strengths are obvious, while others are harder to notice -such as being a good listener. By recognizing your little one’s strengths, you are helping them thrive.

Be positive
Being optimistic can go a long way. If your child makes a mistake, turn their frown upside down with an encouraging discussion that focuses on a solution and the lessons that were learned.

Allow children to make their own decisions
Empower your little ones by giving them opportunities to make their own choices. Teach good judgement and offer multiple options.

Become a supportive role model
Parents and caregivers serve as role models, through their attitudes and behaviors within the family and their community. Encourage positive interactions that contribute to your little one’s personal growth and development.

Raising confident children can be challenging. Putting trust in your little one’s abilities and seeking opportunities to challenge them will help build the self-esteem they need to grow into confident learners.

Come play with us with Gymboree Play & Music’s YouTube channel where our teachers will take you on different adventures such as:
Story Time, Play Time Fun, and Art & Music  Activities!
Through these videos your little one will be engaged in play, building crucial skills to support a lifetime of learning! 

Get your daily dose of fun!

The Fearless Parent

July Graphic_FBAs parents, you are responsible for what happens to your children, and that can feel overwhelming. We all strive to be “perfect” parents, but successful parenting is not about achieving perfection. Let’s face it, good parenting is hard work and is loaded with uncertainty. You can suddenly find yourself worrying about things you never thought about until you held your tiny one in your arms for that very first time.

Fear is a natural part of the human experience. Being a parent can be scary, and that is why we created a few tips on how to defeat those fears one step at a time.

You are enough
We have said this before, and will continue to say, that you are doing a great job. Yes, mistakes will happen, but that does not mean you’re not a great parent. Take a deep breath and give yourself a high-five. You deserve it!

Take care of yourself
It’s no surprise that taking care of yourself makes you a better parent but, in turn, it will help your little ones to be confident in their everyday life. Hydrate, get plenty of sleep, and a take a little “me time.”

Make parenting goals
While you might set goals in different areas of your life (career, health, and home), goal setting for parents is also important for modeling behavioral values and building relationships with your little ones. Write down what you want to achieve as a parent. Be consistent and positive with the goals you set for yourself.

Lead by example
Everything that you do or say rubs off on your little ones. Hold a mirror up to yourself and reflect the qualities and traits that you want your children to aspire to.

It is okay to fail
Being a parent is both rewarding and challenging. Your little ones do not come with an instruction manual, and you may fail from time to time. Parenting mistakes do not mean you are bad parent. Mistakes provide an opportunity to sharpen those parenting skills and teach your child valuable life lessons.

Come play with us with Gymboree Play & Music’s YouTube channel where our teachers will take you on different adventures such as:
Story Time, Play Time Fun, and Art & Music  Activities!
Through these videos your little one will be engaged in play, building crucial skills to support a lifetime of learning! 

Get your daily dose of fun!

It’s Slime Time

Support a lifetime of learning by introducing your little ones to science at an early age.

Tactile activities such as making slime (yes slime) have many benefits for children’s cognitive and physical development. Slime is a type of sensory and messy play that encourages the imagination to explore and create.

Making slime is a relaxing activity that you and your little one can do together at home. This hands-on science experiment blends different substances together, and supports sensory play through movements such as pouring, mixing, measuring, and even cleaning. Children will have fun stirring and stretching the slime, as well as exploring the texture. Your little one will also learn colors and color combinations.

What you will need:
Water
Borax
Glue (Elmer’s School Glue)
Food coloring to add color to the slime (Optional)

How to:
Take 1 cup of water
Add 1 teaspoon of Borax to the cup of water, stir until dissolved and set aside
Put ½ cup of water and ½ cup of glue in a big bowl
Add a few drops of food coloring to the big bowl of ingredients
Stir glue, water, and food coloring together
Add the cup of water and Borax to the big bowl and stir some more

Now your little one is ready to be sticky and slimy!

 

Visit our Gymboree Play & Music YouTube channel where our teachers will take you on different adventures such as:
Story Time, Play Time Fun, and Art & Music Activities!
Through these videos your little one will be engaged in play, building crucial skills to support a lifetime of learning! 

Get your daily dose of fun!

Engage In Play At Home

April 16

There is nothing more fun than spending quality time with family and loved ones! But during these uncertain times of staying in place and social distancing, finding activities for your little ones to do at home can be challenging.

We at Gymboree Play & Music are committed to taking care of our community. We recognize how hard it can be to come up with creative ideas for every moment of the day. That’s why we have compiled a list of activities encouraging exploration and self-expression that will keep your little one engaged in play from the comfort of your own home.

Create a Daily Routine
A routine creates a sense of security for your little one and will provide a calmer family environment. Our friends at HOMER have created a “build your own learning routine” that focuses on movement, story time, and so much more. Check out their colorful routine that can be applied to ages 10 and under.

Click the image to view all the routines.

HOMER_BuildYourOwnLearningRoutine--page-001

Play Dress Up
We have mentioned before that dressing up and costume play has tons of developmental benefits that encourages problem solving, empathy, and builds confidence. Get the scoop on all the benefits of engaging in dress up play by reading our past blog–10 Benefits of Dress Up Play

Bubble Ooodles
Everyone loves bubbles and your little one will stay safe with bubble play! Children learn and develop from early sensory experiences. Bubble Ooodles use touch and movement to engage the senses. Not only that, but Bubble Ooodles are non-toxic and are an easy clean-up activity. 

Build a Fort
Introducing fort play has many benefits to early development that includes problem solving skills, planning, and creativity. Building a fort can be as simple as throwing a blanket over a table. Not to mention it’s fun!

Get Outside
If you have a yard, your little one will have fun exploring the world around them. A bit of sunshine can certainly turn those frowns upside down. Outdoor play improves physical development that is important for growth and movement of the body.

Messy Play
Messy play is essential to your little one’s cognitive and physical development. Messy play activities such as finger painting and shaving cream sensory bins can provide your child with hours of messy fun. Read our seven tips to “Keeping Messy Play Clean”.

Gymboree Play & Music Video Library
If you need to schedule some screen time for your little one, check out our Gymboree Play & Music YouTube channel where we offer playful videos that support a lifetime of learning. Our teachers will guide you on different adventures such as Story Time, Play Time Fun, and Art & Music Activities.

 

Engage in play at home with even more Gymboree Play & Music activities!

 

 

Make A Tambourine At Home!

This week is about musical play!

Support a lifetime of learning by teaching children about music at an early age! Playing with a tambourine provides a sensory experience that exposes your little learner to improvisation and creative thinking. It also encourages curiosity and movement. Making your very own musical instruments at home is a great way to not only bond with your child, but it will also keep them entertained for hours!

DIY Music tambourines are easy to construct using items that can be found around your house.

What your will need:
Two paper plates
A hole puncher
Dried beans, beads, Cereal, or anything that will make a noise
Ribbon, String, or yarn
Crayons or paint

Step One:
Decorate your paper plates

Step Two:
Sandwich your plates together

Step Three:
Use a hole punch to create holes around the plates that are about two inches apart

Step Four:
Slip the ribbon through the lined-up holes of both plates

Step Five:
Before tying up the last hole, don’t forget to add your noise material (dried beans, beads, etc.)

Step Six:
Tie up the last hole

Now your little one is ready to tap, shake, jingle, and move!

Jive on over to our Gymboree Play & Music YouTube channel where our teachers will take you on different adventures such as:
Story Time, Play Time Fun, and Art & Music Activities!
Through these videos your little one will be engaged in play, building crucial skills to support a lifetime of learning! 

Get your daily dose of fun!