Falling Forward with August Book Recommendations

In August, we are highlighting the benefits of falling forward. That means turning mistakes into stepping stones and a path to success. At Gymboree Play & Music, we look at failure as a great learning tool. In fact, we believe in encouraging failure! When your little one doesn’t succeed on the first try, they are learning so many great things — most importantly that it’s OK to fail! They’re also learning the importance of getting up and trying again, along with many more early development benefits! And, we can all agree that childhood is the time to experiment.

So, check out some of these super fun book recommendations this August, and read all about the positives to trying new things, even if it might mean you don’t succeed the first time around!

August Book Recommendations


Unstoppable Me! By Dr. Wayne W. Dyer and Kristina Tracy

Through ten rhyming poems, Dr. Wayne gives context to some important ideas about living life to the fullest. How to take risks, deal with stress, and enjoying the moment. The poetry is a fun way to introduce children to some big ideas, and help them see the value in their creativity, their ideas, and themselves!


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Beautiful Oops! By Barney Saltzberg

Interactive textured pages take us through how messes, mistakes, and unexpected things can be beautiful! This simple story explores how to be creative through the ‘Uh Oh’s!’ And turn them into something magnificent!



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The Most Magnificent Thing By Ashley Spires

A girl is creative and works hard to make the most magnificent thing but what happens when it’s not magnificent at all?! This book takes us on a journey about not giving up even when our hard work doesn’t turn out exactly how we thought. A wonderful story about perseverance and dealing with our emotions.


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The Paper Bag Princess By, Robert Munsch

You might remember this story from your childhood! Originally published in 1980 The Paper Bag Princess tells the story of a resilient, problem-solving princess who realizes her wits and intelligence are all she needs to outsmart a mean dragon there’s also a fun twist at the end!


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Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons By, James Dean and Eric Litwin       

Pete the Cat is losing his buttons! But does he cry? Goodness no! We just keep going! This story is not only a perfect read aloud with it’s song and rhyming repetitive text, it shows us that when things happen we don’t need to get upset; we can just keep singing! Singalong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkQ4d_fff3E 


Our equipment is specifically designed to create challenges and spark learning in your little one. Come give it a try!  


Benefits of Rough & Tumble Play

Sometimes we’re quick to tell our little ones not to roughhouse. You want them to be safe and don’t want any injuries. But there is a very big difference between aggressive play and rough & tumble play. We are all about safe rough & tumble play because it has SO many developmental benefits for your little one! For example, did you know that roughhousing can make your child SMARTER? You read that right!

There are so many different kinds of Rough & Tumble play! Some will definitely surprise you!

Here are just a few:

  • Dancing
  • Hopscotch
  • Climbing up and jumping off
  • Wrestling
  • Play fighting
  • Roughhousing
  • Tickling
  • Tag
  • Football
  • Duck-Duck-Goose

Here are 5 Benefits of Rough & Tumble Play from our Friends at Flintobox:

1. Kids learn healthy risk-taking

Let kids do the unimaginable and feel accomplished when they climb a tree or jump high. Give them freedom to try new things rather than constantly telling them about the hazards and forcing them to live in fear.

Let children assess danger and understand when to push limits and when to hold back. When kids engage in healthy risk taking, they get a better understanding of their limits and capabilities.

2. Develop physical bond.

Physical contact is an important part of close relationships, provided it evokes positive feelings. If two children or siblings want to roll over one another or piggyback on each other, it’s a great bonding exercise. Yes, provided they can balance well and not hurt each other.

Let pillow fights, pulling hair, or ticking each other be part of the growing up process. After all relationships are not just conversations, touch and playing in close contact should be encouraged. They play an important role in strengthening bonds between kids.

3. Learn emotional intelligence

It’s during rough play kids realize what fun is and what can hurt. They can judge other kids’ reactions, expressions—are they enjoying or getting hurt? Children learn to address the emotional needs of other kids, they learn when to stop and how to discover new means of adrenaline rush.

With increased emotional intelligence, children better relationships with others, can focus more in studies and other activities, and learn to regulate their emotions.

4. Exercise for mind and body

With rough play, one can reap physical benefits-build strength, exercise muscles, improve gross motor skills, increased flexibility, hand-eye coordination, and better body and emotion control.

5. It’s pure fun

How many toys can you buy and how many times children can sit in one place and play? Rough play actually is easy fun. Children do have a lot of fun in the process. There’s something exciting about free play when they can hold, push, throw themselves, etc.[1]

We LOVE Rough & Tumble Play at Gymboree Play & Music! Find a Site Near You!


  1. Bhatnagar, Ekta Sharma. “Rough and Tumble Play and It’s 5 Benefits for Kids.” Flintobox. https://flintobox.com/blog/child-development/5-benefits-of-rough-play-for-kids


July Book Recommendations

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Where the Wild Things Are By Maurice Sendak

Let the wild rumpus start! Max is off on an adventure where he meets beasts and friends alike. A magical tale that teaches us about dealing with emotions and unconditional love.


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Chicka Chicka Boom Boom By Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault

Chicka, Chicka Boom Boom, will there be enough room?! This rhyming text is a favorite. This book is a wonderful read aloud all about having a little too much fun with our friends and that our moms and dads are always there to make it all better.



brothers  sistersWhat Brothers/Sisters do Best By Laura Numeroff

What’s better than one book? A two in one book! What Brothers/Sisters Do Best, is a simple sweet text that explores all the wonderful ways to play with your siblings. Including a few Rough-and-Tumble adventures!



Nuts Keep Rolling! By, Eric Litwin

By the same author as “Pete the Cat”, this story as a similar upbeat, funny, and engaging text. The story is all about tumbling and fun! Enjoy reading this aloud and you can even sing it!



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Silly Sally By, Audrey Wood

Silly Sally likes to do things a little differently. This story is wonderfully silly and will have kids of all ages giggling about walking on our hands, going upside down, sleeping sheep, and pigs who do jigs! All tumbling towards town in this delightful story for all! 



Come visit us for some fun, safe rough & tumble play this July! 

National Day of Play Highlights!

This past Saturday was our biggest playful celebration of the year – National Day of Play! We opened our doors to the public for a big, FREE day of play…and oh boy did we play! Thank you to all of the families that came out to join the fun and to celebrate the importance of play. We couldn’t have had such a successful national event without our amazing Gymbo families and teachers!

Relive the smiles, play, and fun with a few pictures from the big day!

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Come Relive the Fun at Your Local Gymboree Play & Music! 

National Day of Play is This Saturday!


We’re throwing our doors open this Saturday for our biggest play event of the year! Join us for a BIG, FUN, FREE day of play this Saturday where we celebrate the importance of play in early childhood development.

Bring your little ones, tell your friends and let’s get our play on! Click below for site event details and make sure to enter your email to let us know you’re coming to play. And, don’t miss our BIG PLAYFUL GIVEAWAY this Saturday where 10 lucky winners will be chosen to win can’t-miss prizes!


Tips for Teaching Early Friendship Skills!

Copy of independence_2291Did you know that learning to socialize is one of the most complex skills your little one will learn in their life? And, the fundamental way to make friends is through learning how to play!

So, how can you help your little one build crucial social skills needed to create friendships? Here are a few tips from our friends over at Good Days with Kids!

Friend-ship Making Skills to Teach

  • Learning Names: Help your child learn the names of kids they know. Keep a class list at home, or have photos of the other kids – run through the names with your child.
  • Meeting: Teach how to make eye contact, smile warmly, and introduce themselves.
  • Greeting: Once they know someone, encourage them to say hi, use the other person’s name, ask them about something specific – “how was your trip?” “what book did you bring today?”
  • Use Kindness to Connect: Suggest that they share a snack, make a drawing or card for a friend.
  • Finding common ground: Ask your child what they know about what another child likes to play or talk about, that your child is also interested in, so they know how to connect to them.
  • Joining into play: Teach them how to come up to the group with a smile, and ask “Can I play?” Or, play nearby, with friendly body language, and they may invite you in. Make a suggestion for how you could participate: “That looks like a fun town you’re building – can I add a house?”
  • Keeping a conversation going: Teach your child some standard conversation starters: “do you have any pets / brothers / sisters” or “what is your favorite food / book / movie / video game?” Teach them how to ask follow-up questions. Teach how to stay on topic, by teaching the analogy of a conversation as a Lego tower. Your friend says something. You say something related that connects. Then they ask something related that connects. You’re building a tower of connection.

How to Create Opportunities to Build Friendship and Practice Social Skills 

Playdates. Set up playdates with other children. The one-on-one practice is the best skill builder, and also the best way to build closer friendships.

Tips for success:

  • Timing: Pick a time of day when both kids tend to be in good moods. Keep the playdate short.
  • Have some plans: Work with your child to plan and set out possible activities that they think their friend would particularly enjoy. Sharing a fun experience builds connections.
  • Minimize conflict triggers: If there are toys your child has a hard time sharing, or games your child has a hard time losing, put them away for the playdate.
  • Supervise, but try to step back and let them play without a lot of interference from you.
  • Snacks: If things aren’t going smoothly, offering a tasty snack is often a good intervention.
  • 2 person or 4 person playdates are best. If there’s 3 kids, one often gets left out.

Play Opportunities: Take your child Gymboree Play & Music or other play locations, often. If your child wears a t-shirt or carries a backpack with a favorite character, or brings a favorite book, that can end up as a conversation starter with someone who shares the same interests.

Extracurriculars: Enrolling your child in activities and classes with a focus means that they’ll find kids there that they have something in common with. However, within the structure of something like music class or soccer practice, they don’t have a lot of time for free, unstructured interaction, which is what really helps to build friendships. So, try planning some playdates or free play opportunities with those kids after the lesson is over. [1]

Gymboree Play & Music is the perfect place to make your first friends! Come give it a try today! 


[1] More Good Days. “Teaching Friendship Skills.” January 29, 2018,  gooddayswithkids.com/2018/01/29/teaching-friendship-skills/ 

June Book Recommendations: Making Connections!

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Summer is perfect for family time, adventures with friends and meeting new people.  That’s why our June theme is MAKING CONNECTIONS! The below reads are great for teaching your little one about friendship-building, sharing and diversity…all important things to learn when it comes to making connections!

Image result for how kind kids book How Kind! By Mary Murphy

Sharing, giving, being kind! This book’s simple story is a wonderful way to introduce our youngest reader to the thought: What is being kind? Pig, Hen and dog show us; it’s simple! The bright illustrations are as eye catching as the humble text, with a big message!


Image result for we all sing with the same voice We All Sing with the Same Voice  By J. Philip Miller and Sheppard M. Greene

This story (originally seen on Sesame Street) is a sweet message about how through all our differences we are all the same! It can be read or sang aloud. It’s diverse and colorful illustrations spark conversation from young listeners, perhaps they’ll even spot “themselves” somewhere in the story!


Image result for llama llama misses mama Llama Llama Misses Mama By Anna Dewdney

Llama Llama is feeling shy, sometimes new experiences and making connections with new people is difficult! Llama Llama is a wonderful story to show it’s okay to feel unsure and of course that Mama always comes back!



Image result for peanut butter and cupcake Peanut Butter & Cupcake By Terry Border

Peanut Butter is looking for a new friend to play! This story shows us it’s okay to keep trying! That making friends sometimes takes some time, and that’s okay! It also shows us how fun it can be when a whole group plays together!



Image result for the peace book The Peace Book By Todd Parr

What is peace? Todd Parr’s book shows us some of the simplest yet profound ways to show peace. Sometimes it’s taking a nap, and sometimes it’s doing something good for the planet, but mostly peace is being who you are.



Come visit your local Gymboree Play & Music for your very own Making Connections story time!

10 Surprising Benefits of Sensory Play

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Sensory play and sensory exploration is paramount in helping our little ones understand themselves…and the world! It covers all the necessities in early development — physical, cognitive, social and emotional.

Here are a few things you may not have known about sensory play!

  1. Sensory play isn’t all about touch. Sight, smell, taste, hearing, vestibular, proprioception…they’re all important!
  2. Sensory play can help calm your anxious or frustrated little one. Ever notice that bath time seems to calm your little one? It’s the sensory play!
  3. Massaging your little one is a form of sensory play. It helps them understand their body and touch.
  4. Sensory play supports cognitive skills like language development.
  5. Children use their senses to collect data about life.
  6. Every child can be successful at sensory play, building confidence.
  7. Sensory play builds neural pathways in the brain, strengthening their problem-solving and decision-making skills.
  8. Sensory play aids our little ones in building emotional awareness and expression.
  9. Using the senses to accomplish a task allows your child to learn even more throughout the activity.
  10. Sensory play is a great group activity. It provides a positive environment where children can begin to share their ideas and work together!

Gymboree Play & Music is a program for the senses! Visit your local site for some one-of-a-kind sensory play! 

7 Tips to Keep Messy Play Clean!

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Messy play has big benefits for our little one’s cognitive and physical development. While your child is having the freedom to imagine, explore and create, they are also building gross and fine motor skills to help with early writing skills and build strength!

While every parent wants to encourage their child to get messy, they MIGHT not be so excited about what comes with it…a MESS! Here are some tips for our parents to help encourage a big mess with maximum cleanliness!

  1. Get out the plastic and newspaper! Lay down some paper or plastic covers to rescue your floors. You might even want to bring out a cover for your child too (and maybe even yourself!) to really keep everything clean.
  2. Take it outside (and near a hose)! Get that chalk out! Then hose everyone down and wash it away.
  3. Use the bathtub — the mess is contained and you can wash away any mess. You can also turn bath time into messy play time! Just make sure to use washable materials…
  4. Really don’t want to have any mess at all? Use sensory bags!
  5. Use reverse psychology and turn clean up time into messy play time! You know what’s a BIG hit for the little ones? Cleaning your car! They think they’re making a mess with all the soap and water but they are also cleaning your car!
  6. Choose your materials wisely. You can have messy play with only a few materials. Example, they don’t need tubs and tubs of play doh. Just give them the amount they need. Same goes with paint!
  7. The most important tip of all — try to relax if things get a bit too messy! [1]

Don’t worry about the mess at all at Gymboree Play & Music! We do all the cleanup!


[1] “10 Tips to Keep Messy Play Clean,” Hands On As We Grow, https://handsonaswegrow.com/10-tips-to-keep-messy-play-clean/