Gymboree is our favourite new find! It’s a music, movement and sensory class for babies, right through to 5 years. It is a franchised group, meaning that there is probably one local to everyone in the UK. We have been attending with J since Christmas, when he turned 5 months old. We had been on a waiting list for several months, which is testimony to how good the class is!
Sensory Baby Play – Level 1
This first class is suitable from newborn to crawling. Each session is 45 minutes long, and groups are made up of about 8-10 babies. They are levelled according to their mobility, which allows activities to be suitably tailored to each baby. J is still in the youngest group, which he will stay in until he is able to totter about!
Each session begins with a welcome song, where each baby is addressed individually. We say hello to each child, and sign their name, which is a really lovely touch. This is followed by 5 minutes of ‘tummy time’. A large mirror is placed on the floor in the middle of all the babies. We rest them all on top, and lots of coloured balls and bells are placed on top, encouraging them to lift their heads up and reach for the toys they want.
The group leader then works through a series of songs, which all fit the week’s given theme. These are sung as we massage the babies, play with different percussion instruments, and grab their attention with different sensory materials. The theme is different every week, and is a great way to help us to remember what we have done, so that we can repeat the activities during the week.
The equipment that they use is brilliant for the babies. One week we listened to Under the Sea from the little mermaid. All the little ones were on their backs, and a huge blanket was wafted above them. It was blue and green, with dozens of fish hanging and bouncing from it. They were fascinated! Another time, they played Over the Rainbow while waving a shiny rainbow over their heads. The lights were turned off, and furthermore a disco light accentuated all of the wonderful colours in the material. They also regularly use optic lights, bubbles, and torches to enhance the musical experience.
Baby Play – Level 2/3
When babies begin moving around, they are then promoted to the baby gym! They stay at this level until they are walking confidently and starting to run. The baby gym is a brilliant soft play space, perfect for little ones that are just finding their feet. They have slides, tunnels, soft steps, climbing frames, planks….everything they need to challenge them! It is such a safe environment, with the floors completely lined with soft and spongy mats. The equipment is rearranged every couple of weeks, so there are always new things to explore, and new thing to accomplish.
Every week begins with some welcome songs, encouraging the children to wave and look at each other. The warm-up activity changes every week. Sometimes we have shakers or rain sticks to beat along to the music, sometimes we sing songs and do some dancing, and sometimes there is some baby massage! Gymbo the Clown is a very big presence now – he is a giant doll, which the group leader uses to demonstrate the movements.
Every week, there is a 30 minute free play session, where your baby is free to explore the gym. Different activities are set up, often involving sensory balls and shapes, to encourage your little one to move and reach for the objects they want to grab. Every 5 minutes or so, the class leader explains a different part of the room, and tells you how you can get the most out of the layout. There is a different theme each week to focus on: tunnels, climbing, finding instruments…it’s always a challenge!
Air Log and Parachute
The next part of the class is J’s favourite! There is a huge air log, which is placed in the middle of the room. The children line up along in, banging their hands as we sing several songs. They then sit on it to bounce and rock along to more singing! As soon as this comes out, you can see all the babies stop what they are doing, and head for the centre of the room. It’s a big hit with the kids!
Next the big parachute comes out, along with the bubbles! There are a series of songs and games on top of the parachute, and then we all get underneath it to sing Twinkle Twinkle.
To finish the session, Gymbo comes back to sing goodbye to everyone. We sing a song that encourages lots of simple actions, such as clapping, waving, and peek-a-boo. We give three cheers to congratulate the children on their hard work!
Gymboree is such a fab class for little ones. It encourages them to use all of their senses, and uses visual aids to demonstrate the musical content. As part of our membership, we are also able to use the baby room and toddler gym at other times during the week, outside of our class time. This provides a great opportunity to meet up with other parents, and play with the children in a safe and also educational environment. I strongly urge you to get your children’s names down for a free trial session!
Originally posted 2017-02-11 22:17:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter